The Buildings of Burford: A Cotswold Town in the Fourteenth to Nineteenth Centuries

  • Michael Laithwaite
Part of the Problems in Focus Series book series


Burford is a decayed town on the eastern edge of the Cotswolds, noted nowadays for the picturesque quality of its old stone houses and its setting in the Windrush valley; ‘an enchanted backwater’, one writer has called it. But to the historian it presents a rare opportunity to study the housing of a small town between the fourteenth and the seventeenth centuries, for after that few entirely new houses were built in Burford until a housing estate and a scatter of other houses appeared on its fringes in the present century. Of course, much alteration and addition was done to older houses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but this had the effect of disguising rather than destroying, and in the late nineteenth century, when so much was rebuilt in other towns, building seems to have ceased almost entirely. In this essay I want to consider the fabric of the town as a whole, analysing the forms of houses as they evolved down to the seventeenth century, and discussing what the continual process of alteration has to tell about the social and economic history of the town during the whole period from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century.


Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Fifteenth Century Fourteenth Century High Street 
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References and Notes on Text

  1. 1.
    W. G. Hoskins, Provincial England (1963), pp. 87–8.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    I. Origo, The Merchant of Prato (1957), p. 349.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    R. H. Gretton, The Burford Records (1920), PP. 445–62, 624–9. I have identified some of the property-owners in 1652 and 1685 from other sources.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    For a definition, see R. A. Cordingley, ‘British Historical Roof-Types and their Members: a Classification’, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society (1962).Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Cf. J. T. Smith, ‘Cruck Construction: A Survey of the Problems’, Medieval Archaeology (1964), PP. 133–4.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    E. F.Jacob, ‘The Building of All Souls College’, in J. G. Edwards (ed.), Essays in Honour of James Tait (1933).Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    See, e.g., R. B. Wood-Jones, Traditional Domestic Architecture in the Banbury Region (1963), p. 12.Google Scholar
  8. 23.
    D. Portman, Exeter Houses,1400–1700 (1966).Google Scholar
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    This is best illustrated in W. G. Davie and E. G. Dawber, Old Cottages, Farmhouses, and Other Stone Buildings in the Cotswold District (1905).Google Scholar
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    See P. Eden, Small Houses in England 1520–1820 (1969).Google Scholar
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    V. Parker, The Making of King’s Lynn (1971).Google Scholar
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    W. A. Pantin, ‘Medieval English Town-House Plans’, Medieval Archaeology (1962–3), pp. 223–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alan Everitt, R. C. W. Cox, Michael Laithwaite, D. M. Palliser, Alan Rogers, W. B. Stephens, John Whyman 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Laithwaite

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