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St. John, Burford, Oxon
Chipping Norton branch of the ODG
St. John, Burford
St. John, BurfordęKMC 19 Oct 2002
Dedication: St. John, Burford

Service Ringing: Sun 10.25

Practice night: Fri 7.30pm (not 1st)

The Bells (8) 17-3-1

Access to ringing chamber: spiral staircase of 72 steps from inside the church

This information comes from Andrew Bull. The inscriptions are taken from F. Sharpe The Church Bells of Oxfordshire. He visited the tower in 1949 (before the restoration below).

The ring was rehung by Gillett & Johnston in 1950 in a metal H-pattern frame with cast-iron headstocks, fixed steel gudgeons, self-aligning ball-bearings, traditional wheels and sliders.

A ring of 8; tenor 17-3-1 tuned to E
Bell Weight
Diameter Strike
Founder Foundry
Treble 6-0-2 27¼ E 1771 Matthew Bagley II Chacombe EDWARD : ANSELL : IAMES : MONK : ABSOLOM : MONK : CHURCH-WARDENS [border]
MATTHEW :-: BAGLEY :-: MADE :-: MEE J77J [border]
2 6-1-16 30½ D# 1868 Henry Bond Burford [Bell M9 twice] CAST BY H. BOND & SON. BELLFOUNDERS BURFORD
3 7-0-2 31 C# 1949 Gillett & Johnston Croydon unknown
4 8-0-15 33¼ B 1949 Gillett & Johnston Croydon unknown
5 9-0-5 36 A 1885 Henry Bond Burford Blessed be the name of the lorde [Q1] 1586 [Q1]
Joseph [bell] carter
6 11-2-26 39½ G# 1635 Henry Neale Burford THOMAS [Lion L10] SILVISTER [L10] IOHN [heart] <> HVNT. [L10] TVNKES [L10] R [L10] TAYLER: CH WA [L10] 1635 [L10]
7 13-0-16 41¾ F# 1635 Henry Neale Burford [Lion L10] [Cross M4] [L10] THOMAS [L10] SILVISTER [L10] IOHN [L10] HVNT [L10] ROBERT [L10] TAYLER [heart] <> THOMAS [L10] [heart]TVNCKES <> [Fleur-de-lys Q5] 1635 <> [heart]
Tenor 17-3-1 46¾ E c. 1330 Unknown   S A N C T A   M A R I A [Cross Q9]


  1. On Neale’s bells the letter N is reversed in each instance.
  2. These bells have been recast by Gillett & Johnston since F. Sharpe noted the inscriptions.
  3. Black Gothic script, on bell 5 where the founder's surname is written as 'carter'.

The market town of Burford is situated on the edge of the Cotswolds about 20 miles west of Oxford. Its wealth came mostly from the wool and cloth trade from which much of the profit was spent on the parish church of St. John.

The church hosts a number of chapels and memorials the most elaborate of which is the tomb of Sir Lawrence Tanfield and his wife in the North Chancel Chapel.

Tanfield 1
Lower part of the tomb ęKMC 19 Oct 2002
Tanfield 2
Upper part of the tomb ęKMC 19 Oct 2002

Another notable memorial in the Nave North Aisle is to Edmund Harman, Henry VIII’s barber and courtier:

ęKMC 19 Oct 2002

Outside in the Churchyard

In the church-yard there are many bale-tombs with carved representations of bales of cloth, cherubs and skulls: ęKMC 19 Oct 2002
Levellers memorial
On the wall of the church is a monument to the Levellers, erected by the Victorians some 200 years after the event.
ęKMC 19 Oct 2002

The Levellers were originally part of Cromwell's army in the Civil War but they mutinied against Cromwell because they wanted more democracy than Cromwell was prepared to countenance.

About 340 of them were imprisoned in Burford church for 3 days and nights, harangued by Cromwell himself before 3 of the ringleaders were taken out to be shot standing against the wall of the church, while the rest were herded up on to the roof to watch the executions, together with a regiment of loyal troops.

A few days later the church warden accounts record a payment of 3 shillings and 6 pence for cleaning of the church after the Levellers were taken. Later still when Cromwell's forces had left the area, the vicar recorded the three deaths in the parish burial register with no details.

Points of interest in church:

Simon Jenkins lists Merchants' guild chapel, Red Indian memorial, Kempe glass.. On the wall outside is a plaque commemorating three ‘Levellers’ of the 17th Century; several hundred were imprisoned by Cromwellian forces in the church during the Civil War. One carved his name on the lead of the font. Three others were shot just outside the church.

Church facilities: toilet

Travel Details: OS Grid Ref: SP253124. - Park in public car parks

Local points of interest for non ringers:

  • Swinbrook church is a few miles East and well worth visiting for the many marble Fettiplace family monuments inside and the graves of the 20th century novelist, Nancy Mitford, and her sisters.

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