You know the town I live in has about 20,000 inhabitants. We have a couple of schools, a smattering of shops, a library and village hall. There is no town centre as such because the town appears to have sprung up in a linear fashion along a main road, there is no railway station and the bus service is useless. We have a couple of churches, the CofE one having been there years and more recent Baptist and Catholic churches.
Stamford, which is just in Lincolnshire over the border from Rutland, has a population that is roughly the same. It has a pedestrianised town centre, lots of pubs, bars and restaurants (although it is quite difficult to find lunch!), it has five medieval churches in the town centre (including one of my Churches Conservation Trust churches) and had 14 in its heyday and it has beautiful stone buildings and a river with a couple of lovely bridges.
It is also home of the Stamford Mercury, which claims to be the oldest newspaper in the UK that is still publishing. Other papers make the same claim though and the Newspaper Society doesn’t mention the Stamford Mercury.
The town is up hill and down dale and so you can see the layers of architecture building up to the top where a couple of the large churches sit.
It claims to be the prettiest stone town in England and has the honour of being the first official conservation area to be designated in England and Wales.
There are a huge number of well-preserved 17th and 18th century stone buildings, so many that the town has had a starring role on the small and large screens including the tv series Middlemarch and the Da Vinci Code.
Stamford was once one of the five Danelaw boroughs, along with Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Lincoln – it was a pretty damn important place. A bustling pottery trade, then later wool, a place on an important north/south trade route and had been since Roman times.
Boudicca chased the ninth Roman legion over the bridge in her bid to rid them from England, not that it did her much good in the end. I have to admit, I didn’t think she was that far north, for some reason I thought she was closer to London. But there is a plaque marking the event in the water meadows by the river.
I could live in Stamford. I’d love to explore the history and the architecture more. And take more photos.
I have broken my camera at the moment though. It got wet in the rain three weeks ago, wouldn’t work at all for ten days and now shorts out after about five minutes. It needs to go to hospital.
But Man has my old Nikon and we are currently sharing that and I’m doubling up with pictures on my iPhone.
I’ve got four churches and a castle to show you over the next couple of days.
But when I finally give up this job of mine and can move wherever I want to Stamford will be on the list of possibilities, as are Melton Mowbray and Scarborough.