High Street (west): No. 124 (former New or Crown Inn)
Externally there are few clues to the age and interest of this building. The shape of the roof is unusual, however, and hides a medieval structure with arch-braces and smoke-blackening. The building was recorded as the New Corner Inn in 1423, and as the roof has been tree-ring dated to 1401 it was probably purpose-built as an inn. Certainly this is a prime site, right by the Tolsey (or market house) at the central crossroads. Behind the render at first-floor level is a jettied timber frame, and rear wings and outbuildings along Sheep Street derive from its use as an inn. Charring of joists over the cellar marks the location of a ground-floor open hearth.
By 1501 the inn was renamed the Crown. It closed soon after 1734 when it was leased to an apothecary, Nicholas Willett, and has remained a druggist’s or chemist's ever since – reputedly the oldest functioning chemist’s in England. Just inside the shop is a massive elm ‘samson post’ with some carved decoration, possibly inserted to support the upper floors when the original front wall was replaced with the present panelled frontage and windows, on the building becoming a pharmacy. The first-floor sashes and timber shopfront are also 18th-century. The pharmacy shop fittings inside are an important survival.
See: R Moody, Inns of Burford (2007 edn) 6–9; RH Gretton, The Burford Records (1920) 422, 425, 435, 679
(Photo by Jessica Brod, Oxfordshire Buildings Record)