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The Hill (east): No. 139 (Hill House)

This late medieval stone and (probably) timber-framed house has been much altered, but its medieval plan can still be discerned. In its right-hand part, a late 15th-century arch-braced roof with two rows of purlins survives above an (inserted) ceiling over the former open hall. The private parlour would have been the room to the left, which has deeply moulded beams and a 6-light window. (Restored tracery survives in two of its lights; the rest was lost when a bay window was inserted in the 18th century.) The medieval private chambers above were probably in a jettied and gabled timber-framed cross wing, the cut-off joists for which can be seen in the external stonework. The medieval service rooms and entrance would have been on the right, where the carriageway belonging to No. 141 is now. The present doorway has been reset, and a traceried window of c.1320 at the rear and a 14th-century carved head corbel at the front may also have been reset from an earlier building. The original owner is unknown, but was presumably a merchant or someone of similar status.

As so often there was considerable modernization in the 16th century, when the parlour gained a fireplace and a first floor was inserted into the hall. In the 18th century the jetty was removed and the wall rebuilt in stone, with sash windows. None of the people responsible are known, and by the 19th century, like many of Burford's larger buildings, the house was divided between relatively humble tenants, including a tailor and shoemaker (1840s), and a tailor and builder or broker (1860s). In 1850 Elizabeth Clare applied for a license to use part as a Nonconformist meeting house. The house was heavily restored in the 20th century by Lady (Susan) Tweedsmuir, widow of the writer John Buchan (Lord Tweedsmuir), who lived here from c.1940 until her death in 1977. The stone mullion-windows to the ground and first floor, despite their authentic Cotswold 'feel', are of that period.

See: D Sturdy, 'Houses of the Oxford Region', Oxoniensia 36–7 (1961–2), 319–20; M Wood, English Medieval House (1965), 354; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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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