• Lucy Lambert

Burford -Travel Guide

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

Burford is located 9 miles South East of Stow on the Wold & 19 miles North West of Oxford. Burford is classed as one of the 'gateways' to the Cotswolds. A stunning market town located on the hillside, lined with impressive buildings along the main street. At the base of the hill can be found a stout medieval bridge moving modern day traffic over the river Windrush. Prosperity came to the town during the medieval period with the rise of the wool industry, it was the first Cotswold market town to receive the Royal charter to host a market in 1087.

Burford was surrounded my many quarries, and as such master stone masons could be found in the towns surrounding villages of Windrush, Great Barrington & Upton. The 'Strong' family from Great Barrington's craftsmanship was renowned throughout England. The family contributed to restoring many buildings in the Nation capital after the Great Fire of London in 1666, along with working on St Paul's Cathedral at the request of Sir Christopher Wren. The town has a host of hoteliers a sign of it's previous use as a coaching stop that are still thriving today. In years gone by travellers would disembark so that horses could be rested or changed & travellers could enjoy sustenance & a good nights sleep before their onward journey. The town became well-known for its 'Burford Bait' the hotels & inns monstrous meals often contained venison poached from the nearby Wychwood forest. The fine for poaching would be hanging, so the meat was discreetly 'stored' in the 'table tombs' in the local church yard (not a nice thought!) but no-one seemed to complain! Walking a few minutes away from the main street you will find the beautiful Parish church with its Norman tower topped with a wonderful 15th Century spire. Inside the church you will find evidence of its use during the English Civil War, take a look at the Church Font, which is inscribed 'Anthony Sedley 1649' Sedley was one of a group of 340 Parliamentarian supports who were imprisoned in the Church, they were forced to watch the execution of 3 of their leading officers, who were shot outside the Church before receiving a pardon from Oliver Cromwell. One of the oldest building in the town is Tolsey House, which was built in 1561 & can be found on the main high street. It's purpose was for hosting meetings of the wealthy merchants & also to collect taxes / fees from the market traders, along with it's occasional use as a prison when the need would arise, this half timbered building houses a small local museum.

In the centre of the town you will find the Tourist Information Centre, the staff are a font of local knowledge & you can purchase a town walking guide for self exploration, access the local bus timetables & more.

For those who love antiques, Burford has an array of shops to explore along with a selection of cafe's one of note is Huffkins Bakery said to be the longest running bakery in the region. Or why not head out on foot, there are many country walks that can fill your day one which will take you West to Great Barrington on the 'Donnington Way' or you can head East along the River Windrush footpath via Swinbrook, Widford, Fulbrook & further on to Minster Lovell with it's atmospheric ruins of the 15th century hall.

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