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The southern gate to the Cotswolds

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High Street
Shops & Inns
The Tolsey
St John the Baptist
Burford's high street slopes down, north towards the River Windrush. Stand at the top of the hill and you'll get a view across the houses, shops and cottages, whose golden stone glows in the sunlight. They've barely changed in hundreds of years.

Pretty cottages in Burford.
Photo PeterJBellis
This is a relatively small town, with a population of only a thousand people. Most of them live within a stone's throw of the main avenue, which provides just about everything. There are independent delis selling home-made foods, galleries displaying the work of British artists and antiques dealers selling period furniture.

Shops in Burford
The majority of these tradesmen have been here for years. Burford's pharmacy is reputedly the oldest in England, but it's still newer than medieval pubs like The Bear Inn, The Crown Inn and The Old Bull Hotel. They look old, too; wooden beams line the rooms, while plants crawl up the walls outside.

Burford House Hotel.
Photo Jim Linwood
The Tolsey is a particularly noticeable black and white timber structure. You can't miss it - it's the one that's raised up on stone pillars. Merchants used to meet here to discuss their business, back in the medieval era. It's now a museum, featuring everything from Roman artefacts to 20th century photographs. There are exhibitions of local craftwork, and a dolls house that's kitted out like something from a Jane Austen novel. Taking pride of place are the seals and charters that Burford earned during its years of great wealth, when the wool trade was booming.

Burford Tolsey
The town used its money to build a church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. In the opinion of G.E. Street, a 19th century architect, there is "no church in the whole diocese of Oxford which exceeds in beauty and architectural interest". It's open to the public, so pop inside for a look at the treasures they've accrued over the years. There are ancient carvings, and a piece of 17th century clockwork. On the north side is a memorial to Edmund Harman, who was both barber and surgeon to Henry VIII. Elsewhere, an engraved, black stone tells the story of a gruesome murder that took place in the priory.

Burford Church.
Photo Dave_S
Burford ends at the bottom of its High Street, where an arched, stone bridge crosses the Windrush. From here you can venture out into the trees and fields of the surrounding countryside. There's a particularly scenic walk west, along the banks of the river, to the twin villages of Great and Little Barrington. This, mind you, is just one route of many. It's not for nothing that they call Burford the "southern gate to the Cotswolds".

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Photo John5199
Set in the grounds of Bradwell Grove manor house, a mile south of Burford, Cotswold Wildlife Park has grown into one of the country's largest zoo's, with over 300 species spread across 160 acres of parkland. Carnivores like lions, wolves and leopard lurk around the southern edge of the park. Next to them are bigger herbivores like giraffes, rhinos and zebras. Birds outnumber them both; there are 131 species in total, including the largest of all: the ostrich. penguins, owls, storks and flamingos. You will also find a reptile collection and a Madagascar walkthrough, which highlights the plight of that African island's endangered species.
Visitor Information
Burford Tourist Information 33a High Street, Burford, OX18 4QA. Tel: 01993 823 558
Tolsey Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday and bank holidays, April to October, 2pm to 5pm. Entry is FREE, but donations are invited. 126 High Street, Burford OX18 4QU. Tel: 01993 823 196
Cotswold Wildlife Park is open daily , 10am to 5pm. Entry costs around £14. Near Burford, OX18 4JP. Tel: 01993 823 006

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