Stamford, Lincolnshire

High Street St Martin's, Stamford.jpg
The view from St Mary's
Bridge looking up the hill
towards the George Hotel
Stamford arms.png
Arms of Stamford Town Council
Stamford is located in Lincolnshire
 Stamford shown within Lincolnshire
Population 19,701 
OS grid reference TF0207
   – London 80 mi (130 km)  S
Civil parish Stamford
District South Kesteven
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town STAMFORD
Postcode district PE9
Dialling code 01780
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Grantham and Stamford

Stamford is a town and civil parish on the River Welland within the South Kesteven district in the County of Lincolnshire, England. It is 92 miles (148 km) north of London by road, and on the east side of the A1 road to York and Edinburgh. The resident population at the 2001 census was 21,800,[1] including the adjacent parish of St Martin's Without.

The town is best known for its core of 17th- and 18th-century stone buildings, older timber-framed buildings and five medieval parish churches.[2] In 2013, Stamford was rated the best place to live by the Sunday Times.[3]


Stamford was the first conservation area to be designated in England and Wales under the Civic Amenities Act 1967. Since then the whole of the old town and St Martin's has been made an outstanding area of architectural or historic interest that is of national importance. The town has over 600 listed buildings, more than half of the total for the County of Lincolnshire. Therefore there is much interest in its vibrant local history.

In June 1968, a specimen of the sauropod dinosaur Cetiosaurus oxoniensis was found by Bill Boddington in the Williamson Cliffe Quarry, close to Great Casterton. It was calculated to be around 170 million years old, from the Aalenian or Bajocian part of the Jurassic period.[4] The Rutland Dinosaur is one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons found in the UK, being fifteen metres long, and since 1975 has been in the New Walk Museum in Leicester.

The Stamford Museum was in a Victorian building in Broad Street from 1980 to 2011. In June 2011 the Museum closed because of Lincolnshire County Council cuts.[5] Some of the former exhibits have been relocated to the Discover Stamford area at the town's Library. [6]

High Street, St Martin's

The Romans built Ermine Street across what is now Burghley Park and through the middle of the town, where it forded the Welland, eventually reaching Lincoln; they built a town to the north at Great Casterton on the River Gwash. In AD 61 Boudica followed the Roman 9th Legion (Legio IX Hispana) across the river. The Anglo-Saxons later chose Stamford as their main town, being on a more important river than the Gwash.

In 972 King Edgar made Stamford a borough. The Anglo-Saxons and Danes faced each other across the river.[7] The town originally grew as a Danish settlement at the lowest point that the Welland could be crossed by ford or bridge. Stamford was the only one of the Danelaw Five Burghs ("boroughs") not to become a county town. Initially a pottery centre, producing Stamford Ware, by the Middle Ages it had become famous for its production of wool and the woollen cloth known as Stamford cloth - which "In Henry III's reign ... was well known in Venice".[8] There was an example of this cloth, also called haberget, in Stamford Museum.

Stamford was a walled town[7] but only a very small portion of the walls now remain. Stamford became an inland port on the Great North Road that superseded the Roman road Ermine Street, which passes near the town, where it forded the River Welland. Notable buildings in the town include the mediaeval Browne's Hospital, several churches and the buildings of Stamford School, a public school founded in 1532.[7]

A fragment of Stamford Castle
with modern housing development visible on right

The historian David Roffe has made a study of many aspects of the Danelaw, and his web site includes an extensive and scholarly history of Stamford Castle.[9]

A Norman castle was built about 1075 and apparently demolished in 1484.[7][9][10] The site stood derelict until the late twentieth century when it was built over and now includes a bus station and a modern housing development.

A small part of the curtain wall survives at the junction of Castle Dyke and Bath Row. From the doorway within it hustings were held until around 1971, the candidates speaking from a position above the crowd.

Stamford has been hosting an annual fair since the Middle Ages. Stamford fair is mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry IV part 2 (act 3 scene 2). The mid-Lent fair is the largest street fair in Lincolnshire and one of the largest in the country. On 7 March 1190, crusaders at the fair led a pogrom; many Jews in the town were massacred.


A jug commemorates Ann Blades - a Stamford bull runner in 1792

For some 700 years Stamford was host to the riotous Stamford Bull Run festival held on 13 November.[7][11]

According to local tradition, the origin of the custom dated from the time of King John (1199 - 1216) when William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey, standing on the battlements of the castle, saw two bulls fighting in the meadow beneath. Some butchers came to part the combatants and one of the bulls ran into the town, causing a great uproar. The earl, mounting his horse, rode after the animal, and enjoyed the sport so much, that he gave the meadow in which the fight began to the butchers of Stamford on condition that they should provide a bull, to be run in the town every 13 November, for ever after.[7] The town of Stamford acquired common rights in the grassy flood plain next to the Welland, which until the last century was known as Bull-meadow, and today just as The Meadows.

Seventeenth-century historians described how the bull was chased and tormented for the day before being driven to the Bull-meadow and slaughtered. "Its flesh [was] sold at a low rate to the people, who finished the day's amusement with a supper of bull-beef."[12]

The custom was abandoned in the nineteenth century after a campaign by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the intervention of military and police.[12] Stamford residents defended their ancient custom as a "traditional, manly, English sport; inspiring courage, agility and presence of mind under danger." Its defenders argued that it was less cruel and dangerous than fox hunting, and one local newspaper asked "Who or what is this London Society that, usurping the place of constituted authorities, presumes to interfere with our ancient amusement?"[12]

The last bull run was in 1839. The last known witness of the bull running was James Fuller Scholes who spoke of it in a newspaper interview in 1928 before his 94th birthday; "I am the only Stamford man living who can remember the bull-running in the streets of the town. I can remember my mother showing me the bull and the horses and men and dogs that chased it. She kept the St Peter's Street - the building that was formerly the Chequers Inn at that time and she showed me the bull-running sport from a bedroom window. I was only four years old then, but I can clearly remember it all. The end of St Peter's Street (where it was joined by Rutland Terrace) was blocked by two farm wagons, and I saw the bull come to the end of the street and return again. My mother told me not to put my head out of the window - apparently because she was afraid I should drop into the street."[13]


Stamford Town Council's arms: Per pale dexter side Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Or and the sinister side chequy Or and Azure

Stamford is part of the Parliamentary constituency of Grantham and Stamford. The incumbent Member of Parliament is the Conservative, Nick Boles.[14]

Since April 1974 Stamford has been within the areas of Lincolnshire County (upper tier) and South Kesteven District Council (lower tier); previous to that it was part of Kesteven County Council. Stamford is in the East Midlands region.

Stamford has a town council.[15] The arms of the town council are Per pale dexter side Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Or and the sinister side chequy Or and Azure.[16] The three lions are the English royal arms, the blue and gold chequers are the arms of the de Warennes, who held the Manor in the 13th century.


Stamford is a town and civil parish within the South Kesteven district of Lincolnshire. It is situated on the River Welland, in a southwesterly protrusion of Lincolnshire, between Rutland to the north and west, and Peterborough to the south. It borders Northamptonshire to the southwest. There have been mistaken claims of a quadripoint where four ceremonial counties, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire seem to meet at a point (52°38′25″N 0°29′40″W / 52.64028°N 0.49444°W / 52.64028; -0.49444). However, the location actually consists of two tripoints around 66 ft (20 metres) apart.[17]

In April 1991, the boundary between Lincolnshire and Rutland (then Leicestershire) in the Stamford area was rearranged[18] and now mostly follows the A1 to the railway line. The conjoined parish of Wothorpe is in the city of Peterborough. Barnack Road is the Lincolnshire/Peterborough boundary where it borders St Martin's Without.

The river downstream of the town bridge, and some of the meadows, fall within the drainage area of the Welland and Deepings Internal Drainage Board.[19]


River Welland banks and Town Bridge

Tourism plays an important part and there is substantial presence of professional law and accountancy firms. Health, education and other public service employers also play a role in the local economy, notably the hospital, two large medical general practices, schools (including independent schools) and the further education college. Hospitality is provided by a large number of hotels, licensed premises and many restaurants, tearooms and cafés.

The licensed premises reflect the history of the town with the George Hotel, The Lord Burghley, The William Cecil, The Danish Invader, The Scotgate (and previously The Daniel Lambert) together with the Easton on the Hill, nearly thirty premises serve real ale.[20] Jim's Yard[21] is on Ironmonger Street. The surrounding villages and Rutland Water provide additional venues and employment opportunities, as do the several annual large events at Burghley House.


The town has a significant retail and retail service sector. The town centre is home to many independents and draws people from a wide area for the pleasure of shopping, often in traffic-free streets. There are numerous gift shops, men's and women's outfitters, shoe shops and florists, as well as hair salons, beauty therapists and eateries.

Stamford High Street

National supermarkets Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Morrisons are represented. There are two retail parks a little way from the centre: on one, Homebase DIY, Curry's electrical, Carpetright floor covering and McDonald's fast-food; on the other Sainsbury's, Argos, Lidl supermarket, and Halfords car spares and bicycle shop. The town has three builders' merchants, and a number of other specialist trade outlets. There are two large car sales showrooms, and a number of car-related businesses. There are also local service retailers: convenience stores, post offices, newsagents and take-aways (fish and chips and others).

National jeweller F. Hinds can trace their history back to the clockmaker Joseph Hinds, who worked in Stamford in the first half of the nineteenth century; they also have a branch in the town.[22]

RAF Wittering is nearby to the south


South of the town is RAF Wittering, a main employer which was until recently the Home of the Harrier. The base originally opened in 1916 as RFC Stamford, which closed then reopened in 1924 under its present title.

The engineering company Cummins Generator Technologies (formerly Newage Lyon, then Newage International), a maker of electrical generators, is based on Barnack Road.[23] C & G Concrete (now part of Breedon Aggregates)[24] is on Uffington Road. The area is known for its limestone and slate quarries. Collyweston stone slate, the cream-coloured stone, is found on the roofs of many of Stamford's stone buildings. Stamford Stone,[25] in Barnack, have two quarries at Marholm and Holywell; Clipsham Stone have two quarries in Clipsham - Clipsham stone is found on York Minster.

The Pick Motor Company was located in Stamford. A number of smaller firms — welders, printers and so forth — are either located in small collections of industrial units, or more traditional premises in older mixed-use parts of the town.

Being in the midst of some of the richest farmland in England, and close to the famous "double cropping" land of parts of the fens, agriculture provides a small but steady number of jobs for the town in farming, agricultural machinery, distribution and other ancillary services.

Publishing and broadcasting

The Stamford Mercury claims to have been published since 1695, and to be "Britain's oldest newspaper".[26] The London Gazette also claims this honour, having been published since the 1660s; however, it is not now a newspaper in the usual sense.

Local radio provision is shared between Peterborough's Heart Cambridgeshire (102.7 - Heart Peterborough closed in July 2010) and the smaller Rutland Radio (the 97.4 transmitter is on Little Casterton Road) from Oakham. Also the BBC's Radio Cambridgeshire (95.7 from Peterborough), Radio Northampton (103.6 from Corby) and Radio Lincolnshire (94.9). NOW Digital broadcasts from the East Casterton transmitter covering the town and Spalding, which provides the Peterborough 12D multiplex (BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Hereward FM). Stamford has its own lower-power television relay transmitter, due to the town being in a valley[27][28] which takes the transmission from Waltham, and not Belmont.

Local high-profile publishers are Key Publishing (aviation) and the Bourne Publishing Group (pets). Old Glory, a specialist magazine devoted to steam power and traction engines, was published in Stamford.


Burghley House, in St Martin's Without, Peterborough

The Industrial Revolution largely left Stamford untouched. Much of the town centre was built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in Jacobean or Georgian style.[7] Stamford is characterised by streets of timber-framed and stone buildings (using the local limestone that Lincoln Cathedral is built from), and little shops tucked down back alleys. A significant number of the old coaching inns survive, their large doorways being a feature of the town. The main shopping area was pedestrianised in the 1980s.

Near Stamford (actually in the historic Soke of Peterborough) is Burghley House, an Elizabethan mansion, vast and ornate, built by the First Minister of Elizabeth I, Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley.[7] The house is the ancestral seat of the Marquess of Exeter. The tomb of William Cecil is in St Martin's Church in Stamford. The parkland of the Burghley Estate adjoins the town of Stamford on two sides. Also inside the district of Peterborough is the village of Wothorpe.

Another historic country house near Stamford is Tolethorpe Hall, now host to outdoor theatre productions by the Stamford Shakespeare Company.[29]

Tobie Norris had a famous bell foundry in the town in the 17th century; his name is now better known as a popular pub on St Paul's Street.[30]


Stamford railway station prior to being extensively refurbished by Network Rail and Central Trains.


Lying as it does on the main north-south route (Ermine Street and the A1) from London, several Parliaments were held in Stamford in the Middle Ages. The George, the Bull and Swan, the Crown and the London Inn were well-known coaching inns. The town had to manage with Britain's north-south traffic through its narrow roads until 1960, when the bypass was built to the west of the town, only a few months after the M1 opened.[31] The old route is now the B1081. There is only one road bridge over the Welland (excluding the A1): a local bottleneck.[32]

Until 1996, there were firm plans for the bypass to be upgraded to motorway standard, since shelved. The Carpenter's Lodge roundabout south of the town has been replaced with a grade-separated junction.[33] The old A16 road, now A1175 (Uffington Road), which heads to Market Deeping, meets the north end of the A43 (Wothorpe Road) in the south of the town.

On foot

All Saints' Street

Foot bridges cross the Welland at the Meadows, some 500 yards upstream of the Town Bridge, and with the Albert Bridge a similar distance downstream.[34]

The Jurassic Way runs from Banbury to Stamford. The Hereward Way runs through the town from Rutland to the Peddars Way in Norfolk, along the Roman Ermine Street and then the River Nene. The Macmillan Way heads through the town, finishing at Boston and there is also Torpel Way to Peterborough, which follows the railway line, entering Peterborough at Bretton.


Closure of Stamford East railway station in 1957 saw services to Essendine handled at the town station, until the Stamford & Essendine line closed in 1959. The surviving railway station, hidden away between Wothorpe Road and the Welland, has direct services to Leicester, Birmingham and Stansted Airport (via Cambridge) on the Birmingham to Peterborough Line.[35] Trains arriving from, or departing for Peterborough, pass through a short tunnel that runs beneath St Martins.


The town has a bus station on part of the old Castle site in St Peter's Hill.[36] The main bus routes are two routes to Peterborough, via Helpston or via Wansford, and to Oakham, Grantham, Uppingham and Bourne. There are also less frequent services to Peterborough by other routes. Delaine services terminate at their old depot in North Street. Other operators active include Kimes, Blands and Peterborough Council.

On Sundays and Bank Holidays from 16 May 2010,there are five journeys to Peterborough operated by Peterborough City Council, on routes via Wittering/Wansford, Duddington/Wansford, Burghley House/Barnack/Helpston and Uffington/Barnack/Helpston. There is also a National Express coach service between London and Nottingham each day including Sundays. Route maps and timetables are on Lincolnshire County Council's website, as responsibility for overseeing transport lies with that level of government.

River Welland


Although commercial shipping traffic brought cargoes along a canal from Market Deeping to warehouses in Wharf Road until the 1850s,[7] this traffic is no longer possible because of the abandonment of the canal and the shallowness of the river above Crowland. There is a lock at the Sluice in Deeping St James but it is not in use. The river was not conventionally navigable upstream of the Town Bridge.


Stamford has five state primary schools - Bluecoat, St Augustine's (RC), St George's, St Gilbert's and Malcolm Sargent, and the independent Stamford Endowed Schools Junior School, a co-educational school for children from ages two to eleven.[37]

There is one state secondary school in the town itself; Stamford Welland Academy (formerly Stamford Queen Eleanor School). This was formed in the late 1980s after the dissolution of the town's two comprehensive schools - Fane and Exeter. It became an academy in 2011. In April 2013, a group of parents announced their intention to establish a Free School in the town[38] but their proposal did not receive government backing. In 2014 Queen Eleanor's was renamed Stamford Welland Academy.

Stamford School and Stamford High School are long established independent schools with approximately 1,500 pupils combined. Stamford School (boys) was founded in 1532, with the High School (girls) founded in 1877. The schools have taught co-educational classes in the sixth form since 2000.

Most of Lincolnshire still has grammar schools. In Stamford, the place of grammar schools was long filled by a form of the Assisted Places Scheme that provided state funding to send children to one of the two independent schools in the town that were formerly direct-grant grammars.[39] The national scheme was abolished by the 1997 Labour government. The Stamford arrangements remained in place as an increasingly protracted transitional arrangement. In 2008, the council decided no new places could be funded and the arrangement finally ended in 2012 - the schools have created an endowment fund with a view to providing local scholarships. The rest of South Kesteven, apart from Market Deeping, has the selective system.

Other secondary pupils travel to nearby Casterton Business and Enterprise College (which introduced sixth-from provision in 2010) or further afield to other schools such as The Deepings School or Bourne Grammar School.

New College Stamford offers post-16 further education: work-based, vocational and academic; and higher education courses including BA degrees in art and design awarded by the University of Lincoln and teaching related courses awarded by Bishop Grosseteste University.[40] The college also offers a range of informal adult learning.

In 1333-4, a group of students and tutors from Merton and Brasenose Colleges, dissatisfied with conditions at their university, left Oxford to establish a rival college at Stamford.[7] Oxford and Cambridge universities petitioned Edward III, and the King ordered the closure of the college and the return of the students to Oxford. Oxford MA students were obliged to swear the following: "You shall also swear that you will not read lectures, or hear them read, at Stamford, as in a University study, or college general", an oath which remained in place until 1827.[41] The site, and limited remains, of the former 'Brazenose College, Stamford' where the Oxford secessionists lived and studied, now forms part of the Stamford School premises.[42]


All Saints Church with the wooden war memorial, and Red Lion Square to the right.

In the 2001 Census, over 80% of the population of Stamford identified themselves as Christian, while under 13% identified themselves as of "no religion".

Stamford has many current or former churches:[7]

Filming location

Filming Pride and Prejudice in September 2004
Broad Street looking east

Television shows


Notable residents

Arts and entertainment[edit]

Corn Exchange

Stamford and nearby villages have their own substantial entertainment sector, as well as being able to access what is on offer in Peterborough, Leicester and other nearby cities. The local sector includes:


Ironmonger Street in 1991



Olympics 2012

In 2012 the Olympic torchbearer passed through Stamford.[44]

Football teams

There are a number of junior teams in each age group as well as school teams.

Rugby teams

Netball teams

Tolethorpe Hall in nearby Little Casterton

Cricket teams

Bowls teams

Running club

Squash club


Festivals and events

The George Hotel - an iconic Stamford inn


  1. ^ "KS01 Usual resident population: Census 2001, Key Statistics for urban areas" Office for National Statistics.
  2. ^ "Stamford Conservation Area Draft Appraisal" South Kesteven Council conservation area appraisals.
  3. ^ "The winners: Our four top spots". The Sunday Times. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "1968 Williamson Cliffe brick-pit, Rutland: Late/Upper Bajocian, United Kingdom". The Paleobiology Database. 
  5. ^ Stamford Museum to close" Stamford Mercury, published: 4 June 2010
  6. ^ "Discover Stamford's official opening ceremony". Rutland & Stamford Mercury. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Samuel Lewis, ed. (1848). A Topographical Dictionary of England. pp. 175–180 'St. Albans – Stamfordham'. 
  8. ^ Trevelyn, G M (1944). English Social History. p. 35. 
  9. ^ a b "David Roffe's history of Stamford Castle". 
  10. ^ "National Monument Record for Stamford Castle". 
  11. ^ November Bull-Running in Stamford, Lincolnshire; Martin W. Walsh. Journal of Popular Culture
  12. ^ a b c Chambers Book of Days (1864),. W. & R. Chambers ltd. 1832.  13 November entry
  13. ^ "Stamford & District News (Closed 1942),".  Interview, 20 August 1928.
  14. ^ "Official parliament listing for constituency". 
  15. ^ "Town Councillors". 
  16. ^ Civic Heraldry
  17. ^ "A real quadripoint?". 
  18. ^ "Boundary change IDB". 
  19. ^ "Welland and Deepings IDB". 
  20. ^ Stamford Town Pub Map (Issue 04 ed.). UK Pub Maps Ltd. March 2011. 
  21. ^ Jim's Yard
  22. ^ "History of Hinds clockmakers". 
  23. ^ "Cummins generators". 
  24. ^ C & G
  25. ^
  26. ^ "The Rutland & Stamford Mercury". 
  27. ^ Stamford transmitter
  28. ^ MB21
  29. ^ "Tolethorpe Hall". Stamford Shakespeare Company. 
  30. ^ Tobie Norris
  31. ^ "Cinema Newsreel on opening of A1 Stamford Bypass by Minister of Transport Ernest Marples". 
  32. ^ Ordnance Survey (27 November 2008). Sheet 234: Rutland Water:Stamford & Oakham (Map). 1:25 000. OS Explorer (A2- ed.). ISBN 978-0-319-46406-9. TF030069
  33. ^ "Proposal for Carpenters Lodge". Highways Agency. 
  34. ^ Ordnance Survey (27 November 2008). Sheet 234: Rutland Water:Stamford & Oakham (Map). 1:25 000. OS Explorer (A2- ed.). ISBN 978-0-319-46406-9. TF028068 TF033069
  35. ^ "East Midland Trains routemap". 
  36. ^ Stamford bus station, St Peters Hill, Town Centre, Stamford, PE9 2PE TF028070
  37. ^ "Stamford endowed schools". 
  38. ^ Stamford Mercury
  39. ^ "Last stronghold of assisted pupils faces legal threat" by Julie Henry, Daily Telegraph 23 March 2003
  40. ^ "New College website, and prospectus". 
  41. ^ Michael Beloff, The Plateglass Universities, p.15
  42. ^ B.L. Deed, The History of Stamford School, Cambridge University Press, (1954), 2nd edition 1982.
  43. ^ Stamford Heritage, "Stamford Arts Centre", Stamford Heritage. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  44. ^ Route of the Olympic torchbearer through Stamford
  45. ^ Stamford Music Festival
  46. ^ "Welcome". Stamford Transition Town. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 

Further reading