Building » Burford – St John Fisher and St Thomas More

Burford – St John Fisher and St Thomas More

The Hill, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18

From about 1933 Mass was said in the club room behind the New Inn in the High Street. The local Littledale family gave a plot of land for the construction of a small temporary church. Holding forty people, this was built in 1939 of cedar wood on staddle stones. Fr Arthur Vincent Littledale was priest-in-charge for thirty-seven years, while the mission was part of the parish of Eynsham. He built the presbytery from his private income.

An anonymous donor (thought to be the Littledale family) gave a site for a permanent church. Planning permission was granted on 28 October 1952 for a ‘temporary’ church (i.e. the present building), designed by F. Russell Cox. It was built in 1953-5 by Irish workers at the nearby US airfield at Brize Norton.

The sale of a parcel of land behind the church paid for extension and refurbishment in 2002-3 (architects Daniel Hurd Associates of Birmingham). The extension provided additional seating for about fifty people, a sacristy, a reconciliation room, and a WC. The old sacristy was converted to a meeting room with a small kitchen. A screen was installed at the west end of the nave, creating a small lobby.

The original church of 1953-5 has a long oblong plan; shallow transepts were added in 2002-3. The original church was built using rock-faced local stone with a tiled roof and metal windows. The transepts are faced in cut Cotswold stone with curved aluminium roofs above a clerestory. They are linked to the church by a narrow glass block link, separating the old and new elements. The west elevation has a shallow central porch with a mosaic in the gable.

The interior has a canted boarded ceiling. Over the west door is an inscription commemorating the opening of the church in 1955. Set into the north wall is a relief of a sacra conversazione apparently presented by Lord Howard. The circular sanctuary, the stone altar, the pews and the Belgian Stations of the Cross all date from a 1990s reordering. The north transept has a modern bust of Blessed John Henry Newman. The south transept has a black marble altar with a tabernacle, as well as a stone font.

The church is set back from the street (A361), with the presbytery to the southwest.

The church is not listed and is not considered to be a candidate for listing.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. Russell Cox; Daniel Hurd Associates

Original Date: 1953

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed