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St John the Baptist, Burford

Church Green, Burford High Street, BURFORD, OX18 4RY

St John's began life as a Norman church, as the central tower and west wall, with its typical Norman door, can attest. It was rebuilt in the 13th century, but in the 15th century the nave was remodelled to add enormous Perpendicular windows. A fine clerestory and a splendid three-storey porch were also constructed. One curiosity to be found at St Johns is the memorial tablet to Edmund Harman, barber-surgeon to Henry VIII. It is carved with one of the earliest known representations of South American Indians. The brightly coloured pulpit was assembled in 1878 from fragments of 15th-century wooden tracery. The tiny wooden chantry chapel opposite the door survived the Reformation thanks to the local squire, who used it as a private pew. In a small chapel north of the chancel, there is an early 17th-century canopied tomb occupied by Sir Lawrence Tanfield, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and his wife. At their feet kneels their grandson, Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, the Cavalier courtier and poet who was killed at the Battle of Newbury in 1643. G E Street restored the church in 1877, removing most of the original plaster in the process - much to the ire of William Morris, who founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) as a direct consequence. Thankfully this new society ensured that many of the region's fine churches and other buildings were preserved as they were. A plaque on the outside of the church commemorates three Roundhead soldiers who were executed here in 1649. They were the ringleaders of a large band of mutinous troops known as Levellers, 340 of whom were imprisoned by Cromwell in the church during the Civil War. One inscribed his name on the lead font, which can still be seen.

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St John the Baptist, Burford

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