About Us

Burford Tolsey Museum

The Tolsey, in which the Tolsey Museum is situated, was built in the early 1500’s, as the market house where traders came to pay tolls for the use of market facilities, and where the Borough Court met. At the back was a prison (Blind-house), the door of which is displayed in the Museum.

When the Corporation was dissolved in 1861 the collection of insignia, charters and other muniments passed to the town’s doctor, and were housed at the surgery, occasionally being exhibited. A Museum was needed. Restoration of the building began in 1955 and the museum opened in 1960.

A leading Burford antique dealer, Roger Warner, who had been collecting objects with a known Burford connection since the 1930’s, donated the collection, ranging from rope-making tools to a boxwood clarinet, to the museum. Since then gifts of items with a local connection have helped to build an illustration of life in Burford and it environs over the centuries.

 

Exhibits of interest include:

  • The Keble leaded-bronze mortar, which was cast in 1659,  is the largest recorded, dated and named example from the foundry of Edward Neale of Burford.

  • The long vellum roll of the burgesses’ rules (1605), with its echoes of the merchant guild.

  • The decorated charter from Henry VII granting a fair

  • A collection of locally stitched samplers

  • doll’s house that is modelled on the Great House in Witney Street portraying Regency high society.

  • Exhibits portraying the various crafts and trades that once flourished here, recalled in displays of tools and wares used in bell-founding, quarrying, roofing, brewing and coopering, rope-making, saddlery and souvenirs

 

We also have a large photographic collection

Burford Tolsey Archive

We are now in the process of establishing a specialist Archive centre to collect and preserve Burford’s written and oral stories and images, which is planned to open in 2022.

The Falkland Hall Charity has made possible the purchase of a town centre historic barn and garden in Swan Lane for extensive specialist conversion.  It will include a three room archive together with a small apartment whose rent will cover the Archive’s running costs. A major fundraising campaign is underway. If you would like to assist us, please donate.