STAMFORD

 

 

Stamford, one of the most stunning and most complete Georgian stone towns in Britain, contains 600  listed buildings, and is familiar world over to viewers of high quality period dramas.

 

However, as beautiful as the honey coloured Ancaster limestone and the gentle hues of the Collyweston slate roofs are; there is much more to Stamford than the wonder left to us by the regency residents.

 

With a history stretching back to the Romans, the apparent constancy of the town is a splendid façade which hides a narrative of rebellion, reinvention, and the power plays of the rich and famous.

 

Stamford has played a role in several English civil wars, a gathering place for rebelling Barons against King John in 1215, attacked by the Lancastrian Army during the War of the Roses, and held by Parliamentary forces during the siege of Burghley in 1643.

 

The 14th Century saw rebellion of another kind, as students from Oxford University, disgruntled with the establishment, came to Stamford, which was developing a reputation for education. There was outrage from Oxford, and the students were eventually ordered back to Oxford by the King.

 

At the height of Stamford’s medieval wealth, there were 14 churches in the town, along with at least six religious communities. Today only five churches remain, all of which are stunning examples of medieval architecture, with their towers and spires defining the skyline.
Several alms-houses still survive in the town, including the spectacular Browne’s Hospital.

 

The town benefited  from its position on the Great North Road, and its convenient distance from London. Coaching inns thrived, and visitors would pour in to the town for a day at the races and to participate in the gruesome spectacle of the annual Stamford Bull Run.

 

One race-goer in 1809 was Daniel Lambert, famed as the fattest man in Britain. On the 21st June Lambert died suddenly while staying at The Waggon and Horses, and he is buried at St Martin’s Church.

 

While Stamford may be considered the jewel in the crown of the district, it is far from the only gem – South Kesteven has much more to offer.