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Burford Parish Church St John the Baptist, Oxfordshire

Church exterior by Barbara Ballard Burford Parish Church (Church of England), built in the late 1100s, may be sited on the location of a Saxon church. It was not until the mid 13th century that the church was added to so that it became cruciform in shape. From the 13th through the 15th century further additions and alterations took place. Money from the wool trade funded these changes, one of which was joining the Lady Chapel, a separate building, onto the church. Other changes were the addition of the north aisle, chancel chapels, and the chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury. The interior of the church was changed around in the early 19th century, and by the late 1800s extensive restoration had taken place.

What to look for on the exterior of the church:

The porch: this was where the priest gave absolution from sins; : fan vaulting in roof
The tower: location of the bells; louvre windows.
Arch above west door: Norman with chevron and beak head patterns.
South porch: dates from 15th century; 3 storeys tall
Roman stone coffin; elaborate stone tombs of 17th century.
West doorway: dates from 1175.

What to look for in the church interior:

Church interior by Colin Smith courtesy geograph.org Nave: Romanesque arches support the tower; memorial brass to John Spicer and his wife; painting of crucifixion; fragments of medieval glass in west Jesse window, created 1889; grooves in wall showing alternations of roof over the centuries; doorway behind which are stairs once used to reach rood loft; lettered panels in the stalls; carved font thought to date to beginning of the church.
North aisle: embroidered altar frontal; carved stone monument to one of King Henry VIII barbers.
St Peterís Chapel: constructed from medieval screens; originally named the Holy Road chapel; was the pew for the lords of the manor 1580-1875; 14th century stone canopy.
North transept: pendulum clock made in 1685.
Tower: arches filled in because the spire weight was too heavy for the tower; eight bells; lectern.
Choir: stalls; 1883 organ.
Sanctuary: at the east end of church; high altar; reredos (ornamental screen) with picture of nativity; Moses in the east window; stained glass window with one of the parables of Jesus; sedilia; piscina; aumbry (cupboard for storing baptismal vessels).
Tanfield Memorial by Colin Smith courtesy geograph.org North chancel chapel: memorial to Sir Lawrence and Lady Tanfield (he was Elizabeth Iís chancellor of the exchequer and highly unpopular); squint.
South chancel chapel: text from St Paulís letter to the Romans written on wall in 1500s; memorials.
South transept: stained glass of last supper; memorial cherub to mason of Burford who worked on St Paulís cathedral in London; tomb.
Chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury: used for private prayer, enter only when empty; icon of Jesus; picture of St John the Baptist; sanctuary lamp.
Rood loft: lancet windows on staircase to rood loft and tower; carved tablet thought to date from AD160 above the windows.
Lady chapel: once a chapel of the Merchant Guild; dedicated to Mary; memorial to Thomas Sylvester, a burgess of the town; brass decorated tombstones.

Church chapel by Colin Smith courtesy geograph.org An unusual incident in the church history was the imprisonment in the church during 1649 of 340 men. They were mutinous members of Cromwellís army during the civil war. Three were killed by a firing squad while the others looked on from the church roof.

Visitor Information

Burford Parish Church
Burford, Oxfordshire
Check the porch door for opening times.
Sunday services and mid-week activities; check website.
Web: Burford Parish Church
Information courtesy Burford Parish Church

Photo of church exterior © by Barbara Ballard; photos of interior and two chapels by Colin Smith courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland

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