Building » Burford – St John Fisher and St Thomas More

Burford – St John Fisher and St Thomas More

The Hill, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18

A small church built in the 1950s with the help of Irish construction workers. It was reordered and extended in 2002-3, when transept ‘wings’ were added.

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.

Image Credit

Jaggery on – licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. Russell Cox

Original Date: 1953

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed