High Street (west): 42-44 (Falkland Hall)
This intriguing building has an alleged but unproven connection with the clothier Edmund Silvester (died 1569) - see Falkland Hall and Edmund Silvester.
Sixteenth-century features include part of a window surround at the back (now out of sight in a new development), and a doorway and window behind 4 Priory Lane, while the symmetrical High Street front with its distinctive central oriel window shows Renaissance taste. The fabric has been much altered, however. No trace remains of the former central chimney-stacks, the roof has been completely renewed, and a stair turret at the rear has been removed.
In the mid 17th century the building was remodelled, probably as a lodging block for the adjoining Bear Inn. This included linking it with abutting cottages on Priory Lane: restoration at 2–4 Priory Lane in 2005–6 showed that No. 2 connected with Falkland Hall at all three levels, although there was a noticeable gap between the buildings, covered by the present outer wall. The cottage's first floor has been tree-ring dated to 1650. Outside, a moulded string-course above Falkland Hall's ground-floor windows carries on round the building into Priory Lane, also linking it with the first cottage. The general configuration (stair turret at the rear to allow more space in the main building, large central stack to heat at least two rooms at each level, and links to the Priory Lane range) all strongly suggest its use as inn accommodation. Georgian-type windows were inserted at ground- and first-floor level in the 18th century.
After the Bear closed Falkland Hall was apparently divided into cottages, and up to 5 households were recorded here in 19th-century censuses. In 1890, after some time vacant, it became a Salvation Army citadel. The large first-floor opening in the Priory Lane elevation replaced a window during the 19th century, and was used for taking in goods. In 1900 there was a platform below it.
Burford Recreation Society bought the building in 1906 and renamed it Falkland Hall, in a fanciful reference to Laurence Tanfield’s grandson Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland (who had no connection with the building). In 1920 the War Memorial Committee bought it for the town and vested it in trustees, who let it for meetings and community activities, including a brief stint as a cinema. From 1962 it was let as commercial premises. As a result of such changes the interior has been virtually gutted, though in 2000 the town council proudly placed a sculpted lion on the oriel, designed by local architect John Melvin.
See: M Laithwaite,'Buildings of Burford', in A Everitt (ed), Perspectives in English Urban History (1973) 4
(Photo by Michael and Rosemary Howden, Oxfordshire Buildings Record)