High Street (west): nos 20-26
The three rubblestone cottages numbered 20, 22 and 24 are probably all of 17th-century origin, and may have once formed a single property: the front of No. 22 extends under the eaves of No. 20, and has a jagged join with No. 24. As with many Burford buildings the façade of No. 20 includes some ashlar blocks which have been ‘pecked’ to hold a covering of render. Fragments of limewash are visible both here and at No. 22, though there the front was rebuilt in the 19th century. A predecessor of No. 20 is documented from the 1430s, when it belonged to Keynsham abbey in Somerset, and in 1571 the site was occupied by a barn.
From the 1840s and probably much earlier all three cottages were occupied by craftsmen or tradesmen, including bakers, wheelwrights, tailors, slaters, and blacksmiths. Iron rings in the front of No. 20 were probably for tethering horses when a blacksmith worked here c.1900. From the 1830s to 1970s No. 24 was a smithy run by the Hall family, and the segmental-headed openings in the ground floor date from that period. Until 1970 two of them were stable doors, but the central one has been filled in to make a window. An iron hook and bracket on the wall were also for the smithy. The significance of the date 1827 (scratched over the door) is unclear, while the Sun fire insurance plaque at No. 20 came from a house in London.
No. 26 is of similar date but higher quality, with its stone-mullioned windows and upstairs flat-arched fireplace. The off-centre doorway opens to a through-passage. The casement windows are 18th-century in style, but may date from a 20th-century restoration. The house was at one point divided into two cottages, and 19th-century occupants were labourers of probably lesser status than their neighbours. In the early 20th century it was briefly a cyclists’ café.
(Photo by Michael and Rosemary Howden, Oxfordshire Buildings Record)
See: RH Gretton, The Records of Burford (1920), 322, 328–9, 331–2, 422, 424, 426–7 (No. 20); A Jewell, Burford in Old Photos (1985), 23