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This ancient inn, originally built in 1420 as weavers’ cottages, is in complete harmony with its delightful situation in the Cotswolds. The phrase ‘charming old inn’ is used much too freely, but the Lamb has a genuine right to it.
Lined with trees and cool green lawns, behind which are set picturesque Cotswold limestone homes reflecting the historic affluence of the town, Sheep Street is the setting for the Lamb Inn. From its wisteria-clad walls to its stone-flagged bar, from the charming dining room to the beautifully refurbished bedrooms, the Lamb has been delightfully restored to create the comfort of today, whilst retaining the atmosphere of yesteryear.
Enjoy a drink or lunch in the walled patio garden, a veritable sun-trap which leads down to a beautiful traditional English cottage garden, a lovely area in which to relax, read or to take an afternoon nap.
We believe that the buildings have been here since 1402. The oldest part of which is the Priory Lane bar window. The ancient flagstones in the bar were laid in the 1420s. Sheep Street is not an idle name, nor is ‘The Lamb’ a title chosen at random. In the days of Burford market and the big sheep fairs, the sheep were penned here on the wide grassy banks and each property possessed the right to let the bank in front for the sale of sheep.
On June 24th 1715, Thomas Clappam of Eastleach, Shepherd, and Mary his wife, sold the cottage on the corner of Sheep Street, and Priory Lane to John Cooke, broadweaver, of Burford, for £50.00, a typical price for a good Burford cottage at the time. The town was at the time almost twice its present population and embarking on a century of prosperity. It was a flourishing market town, with several annual fairs.
It was also a route with a strong coaching trade and second only to Newmarket as a racing centre, and the town was crowded during racing meetings. It was a great wool town, and its prosperity was broadly based on farming, on the leather trades of tanning and saddlery, on malting, and its inns and coaching, but the cloth trade was a major source of employment, in its barches of spinning, weaving, dyeing, fulling of finishing. A broadweaver produced cloth in the piece up to two yards wide. Clothmaking remained important in Burford until the end of the Century when the increasing industrialisation of the trade caused it to relocate in centres such as Stroud and ultimately the West Riding of Yorkshire.
We cannot be sure that the trade of weaving was carried on in the corner cottage, but it would be part of a common Burford pattern. John Cooke may not have lived there. The Cookes were an established Burford family, with a tradition of weaving and John Cooke may well have owned several properties and set up work in this one. Various Cookes are described as weavers around this time.
Three years later, in 1718, Thomas and Susannah Hucks paid £60.00 for the house with Barn and ground immediately adjoining to the north in Priory Lane. They were responsible for turning the property into a traditional Inn. Further adjoining properties were purchased and the Lamb Inn was established. The frontage of the Lamb Inn is typical of the yeoman properties of Burford in the eighteenth century, although like most Burford properties it incorporates much older work inside. But the five gables and the gothic window of the late 1400s on the Priory Lane front of the Lamb mark the new purchase as out of the ordinary, and so it is. It looks out towards the boundary wall of the Priory grounds.
Before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Priory had been a “hospital” - a place for the old and infirm founded in the twelfth century and run by Augustinian canons. It was never a large or wealthy place. It eventually became a mixed sex priory and was sold privately in 2008.