Steeped in history and full of life
Stamford’s stone heritage has drawn accolades over the centuries – and tourists from far and wide.
Its unique blend of history, niche shopping, stunning architecture and an over-riding sense of community even won the supreme compliment from the Sunday Times Newspaper as ‘Britain’s top place to live’ (March 2013).
Behind such praise lies a hard-working and bustling town with a wealth of character. Its population benefits from the beauty of Rutland Water to the west, one of Europe’s largest reservoirs and now a haven for fishing, cycling, sailing and wildlife, and rolling countryside with picturesque villages all round.
– Stamford has over 600 listed buildings of mellow limestone and was the UK’s first conservation town.
– Sir Walter Scott described Stamford as ‘the finest stone town in England’.
A unique treasure
Stamford is a unique treasure trove of provincial English architecture built in the finest stone.
Sited at the south westerly tip of South Kesteven, it was England’s first urban town to gain conservation status and its historic fabric survives largely unscathed. Town walks, guided tours and even ghost walks unveil its past.
And now in more modern times it’s the stage for a fabulous Georgian Festival which recreates the bustle and feel of the Georgian period over a weekend-long programme of events.
The gibbet sign of The George Hotel evokes memories of highwaymen like Dick Turpin from the days of the stagecoach, and ‘Fat Dan’ Lambert was famously recorded as the country’s fattest man Georgian times, clocking in at 53 stone (337 kg).
Its historic core is a perfect backdrop for business and niche retail alike. It has a true market town community with open-minded residents keen to progress.
‘Stamford is a reminder of the days when Britain was hale and hearty’; Sunday Times ‘Best Places to Live in Britain’.
A history of commerce through the ages
Stamford’s recorded history goes back well over 1,000 years.
In the 13th Century it was one of the 10 largest towns in England, complete with a castle, 14 churches, two monastic institutions and four friaries.
Parliaments met in the town and a tradition of academic learning led to a short-lived university in the mid 14th century.
The removal of the wool trade to East Anglia in the 15th Century forced the town into decline.
Its fortunes recovered in the late 1600’s with improvements to the Great North Road as everyone who travelled north passed through Stamford and the coaching trade elevated old medieval inns like the George to nationally reknowned hostelries.
It‘s a time that drew prosperous professional men and merchants who built the classical and Georgian houses which remain the town’s architectural; backbone.
But the arrival of the railway in the 1830s, bypassing the town to the north, signalled a death blow to the coaching trade and to Stamford’s fortunes – now happily revived.
On the streets
Stamford is unusual in having whole streets entirely made up of Georgian houses, yet vibrant with modern life.
It’s an architectural legacy which has drawn innumerable film companies for classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch.
A vibrant Friday street market epitomises all that’s best about market towns, stretching along the High Street, Ironmonger Street and into Broad Street.
Stamford also stages a regular farmers’ market, offering produce traceability and a sales outlet for local food producers.
On a daily basis Stamford’s eating houses, pubs and food speciality shops make its winding streets a voyage of gastronomic discovery. Elsewhere niche retailers vie with designer fashion outlets .
Stamford Arts Centre is a thriving focal point for arts and cinema and houses the Tourist Information Centre.
Already voted the best place to live in the UK, Stamford sits proudly in South Kesteven which has been named as one of the top 10 district’s to live in the UK, in the 2014 Halifax Quality of Life survey.
Here are just a few things that make it a great place:
Delight in a walk along the River Ouse or just relax on the town’s historic water meadows
Enjoy sailing, climbing or cycling at nearby Rutland Water
Take guests to the spectacular Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September, where corporate hospitality is also available
Indulge yourself amidst Stamford’s uniquely niche shops, from antiques to jewellery and upmarket fashions
Stamford has a wealth of attractions on the doorstep including the beautiful county of Rutland and the delights of Rutland Water and historic houses like Grimsthorpe Castle and Burghley House.
The Stamford Shakespeare Company at Tolethorpe is one of the finest open air theatres and has a very popular summer season.
Palatial Burghley House , one of the crowning glories of the Tudor era, was built by local man Henry Cecil , Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth 1.
Burghley is a top visitors attraction and hosts the annual Burghley Land Rover Horse Trials, one of the world’s top events which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every autumn.
Visit Stamford Arts Centre to find out more about events http://www.stamfordartscentre.com/
Stamford Town Council also hosts various events throughout the year http://www.stamfordtowncouncil.co.uk/
South Kesteven District Council http://www.southkesteven.gov.uk/
Stamford Arts Centre www.stamfordartscentre.com
All Saints Brewery www.allsaintsbrewery.co.uk
Brownes Hospital www.stamfordcivicsociety.org.uk
Historic Buildings and Churches www.stamfordchurches.co.uk
Burghley House www.burghley.co.uk
Stamford Shakespeare Company www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk
St Martins Antique Centre www.st-martins-antiques.co.uk
Stamford Leisure Centre www.leisureconnection.co.uk
Stamford Corn Exchange Theatre www.stamford-corn-exchange.co.uk
Town Hall (no website) but call 01780 753808