Skip to main content

No results found

Duvall Homes web banner
What's On, Culture, Art, Music, Theatre, Living, Country, Knowledge, Curiosities, Perspectives

Gateway to the Cotswolds

Celebrating Burford

divider

Entering into its tenth year of community celebration and eclectic entertainment, the many venues of Burford Festival will, from Thursday 6 June, open their doors for a week and a half of concerts, open gardens, talks, workshops and performances. As arguably the most resplendent of Oxfordshire’s rural jewels, the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’ and, according to Forbes, Europe’s sixth most idyllic place to live, most of us are well acquainted with Burford’s bucolic charm – but it’s only right to celebrate the town a little more, to mark the second decade of its annual celebration.

First, a little history. Burford (originally burh-ford, which translates in that typically catchy Old English way as ‘fortified settlement near the river’), was first populated between 700-900AD, during which time the area belonged not to the English state, but to the independent kingdom of Mercia. By the time of the Domesday Book, burh-ford was a buzzing and thriving metropolis of 200 people. We can only speculate on the vitality of the restaurant scene and availability of car parking at the time.

During this time, as with much of the surrounding area, the citizens of Burford were primarily farming families. This began to change in the twelfth century, when the town was given a market charter, and traders began to settle. Burford’s population grew to over a thousand, and new styles of building were introduced to accommodate the greater influx of visitors. These ‘burgage plots’, including those that retreat away from High Street, remain extant to this day.

Burford’s primary purpose as a market town endured for another 400 years, until much of the land was reclaimed for agricultural purpose during the heyday of the wool industry in the Elizabethan era. During the eighteenth century, tanning (that’s leather, not sunbeds) became Burford’s most lucrative industry, which in turn led to the rise of breweries to satiate the workers’ thirst.

During the age of the stagecoach, Burford’s fortunate location on a crucial crossroads, connecting all four sides of the compass, gave the town a steady flow of visitors, keeping innkeepers and local traders prosperous. Unfortunately for them, the construction of a crucial train line was relocated to Charlbury, and Burford’s residents endured a rare economic downturn. It was only the introduction of motor vehicles, a few decades later, which returned the town to the prosperity to which it had become accustomed.

In recent times, of course, Burford has enjoyed a thriving reputation amongst tourists from near and far, with its wealth of boutiques, eateries, galleries, delicatessens and pubs. Much of the town’s success can be attributed to its uniquely preserved buildings – back in 1876, William Morris was moved to establish the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings after a visit to Burford. Part of Morris’ motivation to found the society can be attributed to his witnessing the removal of medieval decor from St John the Baptist Church by the vicar. On hearing Morris’s objections, the vicar retorted, “This church, sir, is mine, and if I choose to, I shall stand on my head in it.”

RECOMMENDED

Screenshot 2021 06 08 at 12.02.07 hr1fdg
Tue 8 Jun 2021

Things to do This Flaming June

From your Oxford Concierge

To celebrate the arrival of flaming June in all her glory, we’ve pulled together some seriously cool treats which you’ll want to book now through our Ask William shop.

Etype Evolution Exhibition 20210312 9 copyright 77 RW PopBangColour nm4bbf
Thu 20 May 2021

Explore the world’s largest collection of historic British cars at the British Motor Museum. From the very first Land Rover to Lady Penelope’s FAB1. 

uROo78gA
Wed 19 May 2021

Oxfordshire Artweeks 2021

Portraiture, Pets and People

On day nineteen of the Oxfordshire Artweeks May festival see portraits, pets and people in art, craft and design.

Ferris wheel
Wed 19 May 2021

Wellnergy:

The UK's First Theme Park For Wellness

Taking place on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September 2021, Wellnergy is the UK’s first ‘theme park for wellness’, designed to enhance the mind, body and soul.