Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

St. Johns Church (Burford)

St. Johns is the parish church of Burford, the very popular little town in Oxfordshire.

The spire can be seen from afar when approaching along the valley of the River Windrush, but is practically invisible within the town itself. The church can be found along a lane at the foot of the high Street.

The tower and the West door are Norman, and the entrance porch has three storeys, being thus a junior version of Cirencester.

The Guild of Merchants chapel was erected about 1200 as a separate building, and was only added to the main body of the church in the late 15th century.

Inside St. Johns there are chapels and chantries in great profusion.

The memorial to Edmund Harman, Henry VIIIs barber, has the earliest depiction in England of Native Americans.

Opposite one of the raised chapels, and best seen from it, is a carved panel that dates from about 160AD. It is sometimes claimed to be of the Flight to Egypt or alternatively Christ entering Jerusalem. It is much more likely, however, to be a remnant of horse worship, alluding to the Celtic goddess Epona.

In May 1649, Oliver Cromwell imprisoned a group of Levellers in the church, and had three of them shot. There is a memorial to those executed in the churchyard, unveiled at a ceremony in 1999 attended by Tony Benn.

In the 19th century the vicar, W. A. Cass, caused far reaching alterations to be made to St. John's, leading William Morris to protest. Cass told Morris "The church, Sir, is mine and if I choose to, I shall stand on my head in it." This was the spur for Morris to found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

The churchyard contains a fine collection of bale tombs.

Bookmark this page

Bookmark this page with

What is

Places in Burford...