Burford and Bath were two cities that I had the pleasure of visiting this week. As to date, they were my two favorite places I have visited thus far. To get there we went over the Cotswold hills. The hills were lovely and rolling full of ewes and lambs. Both Burford and Bath are both “wool towns” which are known for making the majority of their income off of sheep farming and now tourism.
Burford had only one street! The street was long and packed full of cheese, chocolate, antique, and tea shops. The shops were absolutely adorable. There was one shop we went in that sold homemade ice cream and chocolate truffles. I will admit that I bought a few truffles although I abstained from the ice cream. The struggle was real though.
The main reason we went to Burford was its church. It has a lovely little Parish church that sits to the East of the main street. It’s a medieval church which is quite elaborate for a little parish church. It turns the community was quite wealthy off of all the wool trade and had an extreme sense of civic pride for their religious life. It was Catholic at the time. After the reformation it turned into a Protestant church which was used as a part-time jail. Our professor Dr. Allan Chapman told us about a group of people called “The Levellers” who served in the civil war. They believed that men who served in the war deserved to have the right to vote. They would not submit to Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England) who imprisoned the soldiers in the church. One of the prisoners carved his name in the lead Baptismal Fount at the front of the church and both the fount and his name are still there. Cromwell ended up having his firing squad send them to heaven right outside of the church. The squad shot them with muskets less than six feet from their heads. It can be imagined it made quite the mess and the bullet holes can actually still be seen right in the stone wall outside of the church.
The church’s cemetery was possibly the most terrifying I’ve every seen. There was a small path (less than two feet wide) between the church and where the cemetery begins. It was chock full of gravestones and stone above ground caskets. Thorns were entangling themselves all throughout and out of the stones and caskets. Nearly all of them were from before the 1600’s. I wouldn’t like to be there at night.
Afterwards we got back on the bus and rode to the city of Bath. Bath is a much larger city than Burford. It’s in the county of Somerset, England which has very spectacular ancient Roman Baths. I’ll be touching on those Roman Baths in my blog post Roman Baths in Bath if you care to learn more about them and hear of my adventures there.
First of all we went on a walking tour around Bath lead by Chapman. He showed us the most expensive place to live in Bath which consisted of beautiful marble connected estates on a large hill. There was a large lawn outside where many people lounged and played with their children. Further down were sidewalks looking over the rest of the city with rolling hills far in the distance. It was breathtaking.
Dr. Chapman left us to explore shortly after because he is the President of two prestigious organizations which were having their annual meeting. We went to see the Roman Baths and afterwards had a few hours to explore the town. The town was bustling. There were street performers, food carts, and so many people. We went to food district because naturally we wanted to get some good food. We found a delightful coffee shop where I got the best muffin I’ve ever eaten (apricot) and a cup of hot chocolate. We walked along the river Avon for a bit and then went back to catch our bus back to Oxford.
It was a great day where we got to see history come to life before our very eyes.