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Witney Street (south): No. 12 (Bull Cottage)

This small early 14th-century house, though heavily remodelled, may be Burford's earliest surviving domestic building, and is documented from the 1390s. A watercolour of 1840 shows that it had a two-centred arched doorway to the street and an adjacent window with ballflower decoration, whose top half was cut off in the 16th or 17th century when a floor was inserted. Part of a medieval column and capital survives just below the eastern (left-hand) apex of the roof, perhaps relating to an earlier roof structure. Fourteenth-century features inside include archways, a chimneypiece, and more ballflower decoration, while the rear wing has a raised cruck truss with arched braces to a collar. A Decorated (14th-century) chimneystack shown on the eastern gable in 1840 belonged to the neighbouring house (No. 14), which has been largely rebuilt. Presumably the stack escaped demolition because the gable was shared with No. 12.

In 1396 John Cakebread left the house to his wife Matilda and others. Later owners included Thomas Spicer (1402), John Hill or Prior (to 1492), and Thomas Poole of London (1492–c.1504). By 1628 the house was a tavern or inn called the Talbot, run apparently by the cooper George Fowler who was tenant by the late 1590s. A 17th-century remodelling of the front may have taken place around that time. The name Talbot continued in use until the early 18th century, although named tenants included London gentry and a Burford clothier rather than innkeepers. If it was indeed still an inn, presumably they sublet it to local publicans. From 1707 it was held with the neighbouring Bull Inn and became associated with its stabling, which probably saved it from more radical rebuilding; in the 1850s it was inhabited by agricultural labourers, and from the 1870s by ostlers. It was brought back into full domestic use in the 20th century, when the present 17th-century-style windows were inserted.

(Photo by Richard Shaw, Oxfordshire Buildings Record) 

See: M Laithwaite, 'The Buildings of Burford', in A Everitt (ed), Perspectives in English Urban History (1973),  plate I, 74–7; Listed Building Description; RH Gretton, The Burford Records (1920), 333–6, 339–40, 342–3, 345, 351, 353, 355, 358–9, 366, 420–1; R Moody, The Inns of Burford (2007), 23–4

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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