Celebrating centuries of history at the Bull
We recently came across over some historical research about the Bull, which dates the building back to 1397. Believe it or not, from being used as a buther’s shop, it also suggests that the building welcomed some notable guests later on in the 17th century, including Lord Nelson and even King Charles II.
As an inn, the Bull has been receiving guests since 1610 – that’s 409 years – and there’s also a reason why we have the only red brick facade in Burford.
A history of the Bull at Burford
1397 – A Papal Bull authorised the construction of a guest house on the site
1473 – Records from this year show that there was a building on this site called “The Bull” belonging to Burford merchant John Pinnock, who left it first to his son John, who owned the Angel next door on Witney Street.
1489 – John’s daughter signed the property over to the trustees of the Parish Church
1539 – Trustees leased the Bull to butcher Richard Dalby (and later to his son, also Richard)
1588 – The property was bought from the Crown by William Typper and Robert Dawe, but in 1595 it was reacquired for the town
1610 – Having been used during the reformation as a butcher’s shop, in 1610 John Silvester moved the existing Bull Inn from 111–113 High Street to 105 High Street and set about renovating certain parts of the building, including fireplaces and panelling.
1630 – The Bull appears to have been used by Royalist troops for a time during the Civil War. The innkeeper at this time was John Cooke
1670 – Famous visitors included Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton (the Trafalgar Suite is named in memory of their stay) as well as King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwynne. In fact, Charles Beauclerk, the son of King Charles II and Nell Gwynne was created ‘Earl of Burford’ and later Duke of St. Albans.
1690 – The Bull is the only red brick building on Burford High Street and the facade was added at roughly this time, either by innkeeper William Tash or his son, John who died in 1747.
1750 – Burford was by this time a very busy stop on the route from London to Cheltenham and Wales, and the Bull prospered from this trade. The Market Room (now rooms 8 and 9) was in demand for meetings, sales, Auctions, plays and balls.
1768 – The princely sum of £196 was spent on further building work.
1784 – The Bull continued to attract the rich and famous but other tastes were also catered for, with cock-fighting at the Bull.
1793 – Now owned by John Stevens, former butler at Cliveden, the Bull hosted a ball after the annual Venison Feast.
1797 – The Bull suffered a serious fire, killing seven coach horses.
1802 – Stevens hosted a lunchtime visit by Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton when on their way to Milford Haven. The party obtained new horses at the Bull.
1820 – Stevens died and the bull was run by his widow and son, James into the 1830s.
1873 – The Market Room ceased to be used for town business, the market ended as the town went through a period of decline.
1936 – By now owned by Clinch & Co. of Witney, Burford and the Bull saw a period of revival as it could cater for motorists and cyclists. The Bull was offered at this time as “a real old hostelry which has not been restored, yet abounds with possibilities for opening up old fireplaces, beamed ceilings and walls.”
1982 – The building suffered a fire but remained open as an inn
2007 – Condemned for fire and safety acquired by the current owners, who completed major renovation work
2019 – Ten years after being re-opened by the current owners, the Bull is a thriving inn with a friendly welcome, comfortable rooms, wonderful food and happy guests.
It’s worth remembering, though, that no building with over 600 years of history doesn’t have the odd squeaky floor!
Reviews fit for a king!
Let’s start with an interesting fact: recent research has shed light on the fact that King Charles II may have passed through the Bull with his mistress Nell Gwynne in the late 1600s.
Burford gets busy in the spring and summer but nowhere near as busy, relatively, as it was in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Back then it was a thriving stop on the route from London to Cheltenham and Wales, and the Bull prospered from that trade. The “Market Room” (now rooms 8 and 9) was in demand for meetings, sales, auctions, plays and balls. I wonder what kind of ‘reviews’ the Inn used to get…
“Great food, chicken Sunday roast. Highly recommended. Nice atmosphere and hard working staff. Will be back. Very reasonable prices too”
“Second to none!… food is above average more of 5* restaurant. We stayed in room 18, boutique style, at the top of the house, attic, and took our dog cooper. Extremely clean, staff excellent, food excellent breakfast award winning! Couldn’t fault a thing. Will be a regular visitor there, without a doubt.”
“Great room and lovely breakfast.”
“Marvellous visit, staff work above and beyond – Rooms were very clean and with comfortable beds. The building is beautiful. We dined one evening in the attached restaurant, I had the venison which was very tasty and cooked well, again with great service throughout. I would thoroughly recommend and would stay there again”
“Easter Weekend – This place was fantastic. They were so accommodating, especially for the little dog we had with us. The girl on reception was just lovely and so helpful. Then the breakfast…..that is something to behold….. full cooked breakfast, huge buffet with cold meats, fruit, bread, cereal…..I could have stayed there all day….I wanted to.”
“Mini Honeymoon – Cannot recommend this hotel enough. Staff are amazing, warm and friendly. It’s clean and welcoming. Food is fantastic. Dog friendly too. Will definitely be back. They are more than 5 stars I’d give them 10!”
“Spacious quiet and well furnished courtyard room, perfect as travelling with a dog – Staff all extremely helpful, clean well stocked room which was lovely and warm on arrival. Much larger than it looks and although car park small a large free car park is about 4 minutes walk away. Good evening meal and excellent breakfast selection.”
Thanks again for all your reviews and we look forward to welcoming you to the Bull in the near future!
Brunch-Lunch-Dinner – all day food now on!
To celebrate the start of spring, from 1 March we are launching new menus at the Bull, meaning that both residents and passers-by can now eat with us all day!
And, with the Six Nations on and the football getting exciting, we’re also showing all the best of the sport in the bar.
NEW! – BRUNCH 0800-1200
From as early as 0800 anyone can now join us in the bar and eat from our new Brunch menu. Try the Full Burford (our own take on the full English) or scrambled eggs and salmon, our Eggy Stack (read all about it here) or simply a bacon bap.
NEW! ALL-DAY BAR MENU 1200-2100
If you fancy a fantastic lunch or dinner without the formality of a restaurant, you can now eat from our Bar menu all day, from midday until 9pm. Which means that with our Brunch menu, you can now eat with us all day!
SPRING MADNESS: SUNDAY ROAST £8.95
To mark the beginning of Spring, we’re also offering a full Sunday roast with all the trimmings for just £8.95 per person. We’ll always have beef and at least one other choice, so come and join us. You could even make a Sunday stay out of it with our crazy Sunday offer.
Valentine’s Day at the Bull at Burford
One month out from Valentine’s Day 2019 the Bull at Burford has launched an incredible, discounted Cotswold romance offer!
The budget can bite a bit at this time of year, so we have cooked up a VERY special 25% discount, even out-doing our other Cotswold midweek mini breaks.
This year’s Valentines 2019 break offers two nights’ Dinner, Bed & Breakfast from just £136.50 per person, including a glass of prosecco with dinner on the big night and delicious fudge or chocolates on arrival.
The dining offer gives both guests £35 on both nights from our delicious a-la-carte menu.
Make it a 3-night stay
And, as Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, we are also offering a special rate on the Saturday night for those who want to make it a long 3-night weekend in Burford, the Gateway to the Cotswolds.
This offer is only available by booking direct through our website and allows you to choose between every type of double room we have available: superior, 4-poster, standard and small double rooms – truly something to suit every budget.
Take me to your offers now!
Merry Christmas from the Bull!
To all of our guests past, present and future, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Also to our wonderful staff, thank you for a great 2018 and for the shift you’re about to put in over the festive season – it looks like it will be busy with a packed hotel!
This year we have a wonderful 3-night stay on 24th, 25th and 26th December as part of our Bull at Burford Christmas and New Year’s packages. Last time I checked we had a final few tables remaining for New Year’s Eve but otherwise there is no room at the inn!
However, if you still fancy a treat away we have many package deals on at the moment on our offers page including wonderful 2- and 3-night midweek offers – make sure you book soon to avoid disappointment!
Wherever you are, have a peaceful holiday and season’s greetings from the Bull!
- Bull At Burford News (18)
01 Oct 2018
Royal International Air Tattoo (19-21 July 2019)
Written by Seb Lauzier
Book a 3-night minimum stay for this internationally-renowned RAF event held at nearby Fairford.
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