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High Street (west), Cobb House

A vicarage house stood on part of this site from the Middle Ages, and a surviving medieval range at the rear may be part of it. The main street-front range, recognisable by its imposing three-bay façade with a datestone of 1672, is from a rebuilding of the vicarage probably by the vicar John Thorpe. The range may have been built on the foundations of an earlier structure, but its shaped gables and symmetrical front, with a first-floor piano nobile, were clearly designed to signal a new age of gentility and fashion in Burford. Towards the bridge, the large double gateway from the street and a small adjoining structure to its left are the last remnants of Cobb Hall, a quite separate late medieval courtyard house which was demolished c.1870. Its site now forms part of Cobb House's garden.

Most 18th- and early 19th-century vicars or curates lived here at least occasionally, but in 1836 the house was said to be dilapidated. A new block, possibly by the architect Henry Underwood (1787–1868), was added at the rear for the incoming vicar Edward Philip Cooper (a relative of Jane Austen), and a coach-house to the left was built at the same date. Later vicars lived here with their families and servants until c.1937. During the Second World War the premises were used by the armed forces, and were later divided into flats for families awaiting council housing.

The Church sold the property in 1955, and in 1958 it was divided. The front part was bought in 1960 by Raymond and Joan Moody, who named it Cobb House; that and the 1836 block (now known as the Old Vicarage) remained separate houses in 2007.

See: Pevsner, Buildings of England: Oxon (1974). 518; Images of England nos. 420234, 420235, 420236 and 420237.

(Photo by Michael and Rosemary Howden, Oxfordshire Buildings Record)

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Burford: Buildings and People in a Cotswold Town' (ISBN 13 : 9781860774881) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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