St. John's Church
Like many other churches in Stamford, it has a medieval outside and a Victorian inside. However, this one has 15th century roof timbers with angels and green men. Another exceptional feature of this church is that it had to be reconstructed in 1451 and therefore received an almost purely Perpendicular Gothic style.
At the time of my visit, there was a charity Christmas market going on which I liked, but made it difficult to appreciate all the details inside.
(Former) St. Michael's Church
St. Michael's church dates back to the 12th century with many alterations made in the 15th. The tower is a 18th century work, replacing a wooden structure. In 1831, someone had the great idea to refurbish the church by remonving some of the pillars inside leading to a collapse of the church on June 8th 1832. After some financial quarrel, the church was rebuilt in the 1830s. In 1962, it closed and became a shop and office complex twenty years later. A part of the fomer cemetery is preserved to the east.
I am not sure, if I should classify this place as a restaurant or things to do – so I decided to have it in both categories. Undoubtedly, The George is a fmous landmark in Stamford. It is the best known inn, hotel, restaurant and pub at the same time and looks back to a history of over thousand years. Many medeival kings as well as other key personalities from British history stayed here. With time, it grew from a tiny inn to a building complex with great reputation. You can roam the gardens for free and enter the lobby (where you will find the picture of Daniel Lambert, see separate tip for that). Admire the different styles of architecture dating back to the middle ages and take a peek at all the different restaurants. Outside, don't forget to have a look at the "gallows" sign which as almost as iconic as the hotel itself.
The York bar has affordable food and drinks for everyone (see tips under restaurants for that).
Even if you do not stay here, this iconic place deserves a visit and maybe a pint or a meal at one of the bars and restaurants.
St. George's Church
One of many medieval churches in Stamford dating back to the late 11th or early 12th century. Its exterior has remained unchanged since the 15th century. Only the tower had to be rebuilt in the 17th century. It is said to have a strong association with the Order of the Garter. Like St. Mary's, also St. George has a predominantly Victorian interior.
All Saints Church
All Saints is one of the oldest churches in Stamford,, predating the Norman conquest together with only three other churches in Stamford. Though this means that is it 11th centur or older, most of today's appearance date from the 15th century. Worth a notice are the sundial and the brasses of the Brownes of Stamford, wealthy merchants who founded the nerby hospital and also gave the funds for the 15th century rebuilding of the church. The latter gave the church a predominantly Perpendicular Gothic appearance, similar to neighbouring St. John's Church. The five bells are from the 18th century or older. All Saints is sometimes considered to be Stamford's main church.
There's not much left of the castle, only three arches which were once service doors of the so-called Great Hall. The Castle was receted under the rule of William the Conqueror and pulled down around 1484. It occupied most of the area which is today the central bus station. A 13th century gate off Bath Row, a few metres away from the former Bath House, has probably been part of the castle as well though this has never been proven.
- Castles and Palaces
Heritage Hall / Discover Stamford
Since the Stamford Museum closed as a rsult of cost cuttings in Lincolnshire, some of the exhibits found their way into the heritage hall („Discover Stamford“) in the Public Library. The city's history is shown, illustrated by items such as archeological artfeacts or the tapestry completed in 2000. The Stamford Bull Run, a tradition which took place from the 12th century until 1839, its represented by a jug which is probably the best-known item from its collection. In 2013, an animal-friendly alternative of the bull run with puppets was reenacted. Multimedia and kids' acitivities can be found throughout the whole exhibition.
Compared to what the museum looked like on pictures, it is dissappointing. However, it is for free and still better than nothing. What they have is well illustrated and gives you a good outline on the city's history. The opening times are roughly 0900 – 1700 every day except sunday (2014), the actual times can be checked through the link to library on the page below.
- Museum Visits
Burghley Park has almost the same size of Stamford itself and is popular with the locals. In this extensive landscape, you will find gardens, sculptures, animals (deer and sheep) and a dozen of smaller buildings like a 19th century greenhouse. There are a children's play area and a café as well.
Right in the middle, you will find the majestic Elizabethan Burghley House which once was the residence of William Cecil, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, Burghley House is only open to visitors in the summer season, so I can't say anything about how a visit inside would be.
Visitors usually tend to visit the northen part with Burghley House only, however the area south of the lake is far larger than the northern part of the park.
Mr. Lambert made it into history, because of his obesity. At the time of his death, he weighed 52 stones (335 kgs) making him the heaviest recorded person of his time. However, the chap was an intelligent person and many people enjoyed conversations with him. He became a prison guard, however his weight made him unemployable and after some unsuccessful attempts in other jobs, he put himself on exhibition in London and charged people to see him.
Daniel Lambert became an icon in his native Leicestershire, but also in Stamford where he died. His grave is located in the cemetery of St. Martin's and can be easily found. A picture of him as well as his walking stick are found in the lobby of the George Hotel where he once stayed. These two items were once exhibited in a London pub with Lambert's name. His grave is located in a cemetery behind St. Matin's church and is easy to find once you are up there - it is the one with a sign in front.
St. Mary's Church
St. Mary’s Church is a true medieval church, built in the 12th century with tower (13th century) and spire (14th century) added later on. The spire was strengthened twice, once in 186 and once in 1913, in order to save it from collapse. Inside decoration and furniture – including stained glass windows and the organ – is predominantly Victorian.
Stamford Museum (Closed)
Unfortunately, Stamford Museum has closed for good. Therefore, do not lose your time looking for it on Broad Street - it is not there anymore.
Many of the museum's items have found a new home in the heritage hall called „Discover Stamford“. This is located in the public library at High Street and can be visited for free during the opening hours of the library. The Heritage Hall is described in a separate tip, for the opening hours of the library, please see below.
Another museum, which has nothing to do with the original Stamford Museum, is the Browne's Hospital Museum which is located in Broad Street as well. This museum is only open on Saturdays during the summer season and on request.
- Museum Visits
St. Leonard's Priory (Stamford Priory)
What is called Stamford Priory is a part of Norman Romanesque priory church which is the only remaining part of a larger priory. There is nothing (and by nothing , I mean there is no furniture, no decorationand not even a floor beside the bare gravel) to see inside and the building is usually closed off to visitors. If you are interested in medieval architecture, you will be glad to see such a gem in such a good condition.
The priory itself was founded in the year 658, but destroyed by the vikings in the 10th century. After the Norman invaion, around the year 1100 it was refounded (some give 1082 as founding date), the priory church with its beautiful arches dates from the 12th century. The priory was dissolved during the dissolution of the monasteries (1539) and fell into decay. Only the former church was sued as a barn. The west front collapsed in 1833, but was soon restored afterwards. In the late 19th century the building was reconstructed. Archeological excavations from 1967 and 1972 revealed the whole size of the grounds including former buildings. There is an interpretation board on the grounds with some information on the priory's history. Other than that, there are no more buildings to see.
Town architecture - stone buildings
Stamford is known for its stone buildings and has earned the nickname "England's finest stone town". Most of the buildings are from the mid-19th century or even older. If you want to see some of them and get some background information, you should consider to buy the leaflet from the tourist information for 1.50 GBP (2014). This leaflet has four suggested walk routes (each taking 30-60 minutes) along the town which can also be done in sequence. These walks pass along the most interesting buildings in Stamford and the leaflet has some information on every single one of them.
Wander through the streets
Stamford is a especially right place to follow the advice. The walking off Welland river and through these ancient stoned streets is a must do. Photos never are close to the real thing but I show you some of them for your enjoyment.
The George Hotel
Really ancient -about 1.000 years of history- and beautiful, this prominent Stamford's building is proud to carry a whole encyclopedia of stories and charm inside its stones. Important for centuries and owned by key characters along Britain's history it has been rebuild and refounded, growing from a small inn to a greater one engulfing two religious buildings with its yards and it's still at work.
King Charles I and king William III slept here and Sir Walter Scott was a frequent visitor too. Visiting this nice place is getting closer to England's History.