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High Street (west): Nos 78 (The Mermaid) and 80

Though substantially remodelled both buildings are of medieval origin, and were apparently of moderately high status. The Mermaid contains late-medieval cruck timbers, but in the 17th century it was largely rebuilt in stone; the remodelling probably included insertion of an upper floor (replacing an earlier open hall) and raising of the roof. The two-centred arched doorway is 14th-century, but may have been reset. The street-front's Tudor aspect, with its mullion and transom windows, results largely from a remodelling in the 1930s, while the untraditional Welsh-slate roof is also 20th-century. The building was an inn or public house by the 1820s and possibly earlier, as indicated by a worn mounting-block outside. Until the 1940s it was the Three Pigeons, renamed the Mermaid after the Second World War.

No. 80 to its left (a fishing and clothing retailers in 2007) has a 14th-century arched stone doorway to the rear of the shop. The medieval building was only one room deep, possibly already used as a shop, and the arch was probably the back door of a through-passage to the yard behind. A heated rear wing was added in the 15th century, its Perpendicular fireplace altered in the 16th century when a new lintel was inserted. The ceiling beams in the shop are a 17th-century insertion to provide an upper room, and the rubblestone façade (which originally incorporated part of the house to the south) dates probably from the same period. In the 18th century the upper part of the façade was raised to form a parapet, and sash windows (replaced in the 19th century) were inserted. Nineteenth-century occupants included a printer and book-setter (1850–60s), a teacher with 4 pupils (1870s), and the cabinet-maker and house-builder William Smith (1880s–1910s), whose wife was a toy dealer. By 1915 it housed The Wychwood Toy Co., for which the 20th-century shopfront may have been added.

(Photo by Jessica Brod, Oxfordshire Buildings Record)

See: Pevsner, Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (1974), 517; M Laithwaite, 'The Buildings of Burford', in A Everitt, (ed), Perspectives in English Urban History (1973) 72; Listed Buildings Description; R Moody, Inns of Burford (2007 edn) 58–9

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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