stamford - burghley house

Stamford and the Great North Road

Ermine Street crossed the River Welland close to the current town, heading to the Roman town at Great Casterton slightly to the north (where Ermine Street crossed the smaller River Gwash).

Stamford prospered during the medieval period and as the post road developed so did the town’s coaching inns.

The 20th century A1 snaked through its otherwise unspoilt Georgian buildings until 1960 when a by-pass to the west accelerated the north-south traffic and left the town to its more traditional role as a charming backwater.

About Stamford

Stamford developed from an Anglo Saxon settlement and by the 10th Century the town had become one of 5 controlling boroughs of Danelaw.  By the 13th Century it was one of the 10 largest towns in England, with a castle, 14 churches, 2 monastic institutions and 4 friaries. The wool trade was a foundation of its economic prosperity though by the 15th Century this was being lost to other centres in East Anglia.

William Cecil, secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth I, was locally born. He built a palatial mansion just outside Stamford for his mother. Burghley House survives as one of the finest Elizabethan houses in the country.

In the late 17th Century Stamford was boosted by improvements to the Great North Road and the construction of the canal to Market Deeping which re-opened the town to river traffic. Prosperous merchants were attracted to the town leaving a legacy of fine Georgian houses. The coaching trade elevated old medieval inns like the George into nationally renowned hostelries.

Events in the 1960s unusually served to preserve the historical centre of the town. Following construction of the by bypass, Stamford was the first conservation area to be designated under the Civic Amenities Act 1967.

Explore Stamford

The images below provide links to additional information either on this website or elsewhere.


Stamford Then and Now

stamford-george-hotelStamford - not much changed in 70 years!

British Pathe newsreel showing the opening of the Stamford by-pass in 1960

Stamford town plan c 1600 – John Speed

stamford - speed - c1600

John Bangay guide to the Georgian town.

  • Eleanors Crosses - Westminster Abbey Tomb

The Eleanor Crosses

The Eleanor Crosses constructed in the 1290s to commemorate the passing of the queen were prominent landmarks alongside the Great North Road at Grantham...

  • Whittlesey Mere

Whittlesea Mere

Until the 1850s Whittlesea Mere was one of the largest lakes in England. It had long been a rich source of fish and wildfowl – and by the 18th century it was also attracting...

  • The George, Stamford

The George, Stamford

The George at Stamford vies with the Angel at Grantham as the country’s oldest surviving coaching inn. Its distinctive wooden arch over the Great North Road...

  • Baker Perkins - Joseph Baker - Jacob Perkins

Baker Perkins

Engineering company, Baker Perkins, operated an overnight Great North Road trunker service between its factories at Peterborough and on Tyneside...

  • Ermine Street

Ermine Street

The southern section of Ermine Street aligns closely with the Old North Road, merging with Great North Road near Godmanchester, before heading eastwards.....

  • RAF Wittering - Harrier Jump Jet

RAF Wittering

RAF Wittering is located just south of Stamford, Lincolnshire. It was the “Home of the Harrier” and for several decades has been marked by a Harrier Jump Jet anchored...

  • Stilton Cheese

Stilton Cheese

King of Cheeses. Stilton is recognised across the world as a unique and special variety. Its initial commercial success was the direct result of its popularity with coach.....

  • Wansford Little Chef

Wansford – Bauhaus

This Bauhaus inspired building has been a notable feature for travellers on the Great North Road since it was constructed in the early 1930s. It has seen.....

  • Burghley House

Burghley House

The route of Ermine Street runs through the Burghley estate and remains a public footpath. The Great North Road ran alongside the estate as the road winds.....

  • Rolls Royce - Spirit of Ecstasy

Henry Royce

Sir Henry Royce, a founding partner in Rolls Royce, was born at Alwalton in 1863 where his father was the miller. When the family business failed, they moved.....