English Country Garden

Image taken in Burford a small Cotswold town in Oxfordshire, England.

Burford is a small town on the River Windrush in the Cotswold hills in west Oxfordshire, England, about 18 miles (29 km) west of Oxford, 22 miles (35 km) southeast of Cheltenham and only about 2 miles (3 km) from the Gloucestershire boundary. The toponym derives from the Old English words burh meaning fortified town or hilltown and ford, the crossing of a river.

The town began in the middle Saxon period with the founding of a village near the site of the modern priory building. This settlement continued in use until just after the Norman conquest of England when the new town of Burford was built. On the site of the old village a hospital was founded which remained open until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII. The modern priory building was constructed some 40 years later around 1580.

In 1649, the church was used as a prison (during the Civil War),[citation needed] when the New Model Army Banbury mutineers were held there. Some of the 340 prisoners left carvings and graffiti, which still survive in the church.

Between the 14th and 17th centuries Burford was important for its wool. The Tolsey, midway along Burford’s High Street, was once the centre of the local wool trade, and is now a museum.

The town centre has some 15th century houses and the Baroque town house that is now Burford Methodist Church. Its most notable building is the Church of England parish church of Saint John the Baptist, which is known for its merchants’ guild chapel, memorial to Henry VIII’s barber-surgeon, Edmund Harman, featuring South American Indians and Kempe stained glass.

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