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History of Fulbrook

The village of Fulbrook lies a mile from Burford, separated by the River Windrush. The name Fulebroc first appeared in The Domesday Book in 1086 and the meaning is “foul brook”. Although the water is clear in the upper reaches, it can become muddy when running through the valley to join The Windrush. Could it have flowed through a deposit of Fuller’s Earth which has been found in the area?  In the grounds of “Knights Spill” are the remains of a sheepwash. That would certainly have fouled up the water! However sheepwashes were used in later times. When wells ran dry the stream would have been in common use.

According to The Domesday Book, Fulbrook once had a greater population than Burford, but now it is a village of about 400 inhabitants. The village is divided into three main sections — the main part being based around the Norman Church, Lower End and along the A361 in the direction of Burford. Upper End rises on a hill formerly known as Spring Hill. Westhall was once separate but now a line of houses nearly joins it to the rest of the village. There are also a few properties on the north bank of The Windrush closer to Burford.

Although formerly, most occupations were based on agriculture, and we do have a few isolated farmhouses, many people are employed outside in Burford, Witney, Oxford or London. A good proportion of the villagers are retired which means that we have an enthusiastic group of workers who have made a new Village Meeting Place at the back of the Church. Now several groups meet there regularly — Fulbrook Fellowship,  Art Club,  Keep Fit,  Lunch Club for older villagers, Coffee Morning,  Prayer Group  and we’ve recently had a Village Photographic Exhibition, Pig Roast, Five Course Dinner, and several concerts and quizzes.

The Norman Church of St. James the great has had several additions over the centuries. It is a beautiful building containing memorials to 17th century families and surrounded by a peaceful, well-maintained churchyard containing a fine old English Yew over 1000 years of age.  The unadorned solid cylindrical Norman font has an interesting feature in the survival of the staple to which the cover was locked in mediaeval times. We also have a “green man” carved in wood in the roof, and several  well-carved stone corbel heads gaze at us from on high.

In early summer the fields around the village are a picture with many of the Cotswold stone walls decorated with a profusion of may blossom. There is a mixture of arable and livestock farming — cattle, sheep and horses graze in the meadows, and wheat, barley, oilseed-rape, peas and sometimes even flax make a patchwork of colour later on.

The Carpenters’ Arms is a reminder of former trades, and indeed still provides a meeting place for villagers to exchange information about possible business. It is a welcoming inn which provides a good meal for locals and visitors alike.

A new play area has recently been provided for the children at Meadow End.

Although our village school was closed in 1973 most village children attend Burford Primary School and later Burford Comprehensive. There is also good provision for the younger ones in local playgroups.

A traveller on the A361 road going to Shipton-under-Wychwood could see, at the top of the hill, in a field to the right, the gaunt remains of The Gibbet Tree upon which the bodies of two of the Dunsdon Brothers, notorious Fulbrook Highwaymen, were gibbeted in 1784. (For more details about this see Raymond and Joan Moody’s book “A Thousand Years of Burford”).