stamford - burghley house

Stamford and the Great North Road

Ermine Street crossed the River Welland on the site of 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 Saxons 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 major 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.

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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.

  • 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 Emblem

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.....

  • Welland - Stamford

River Welland

The River Welland is crossed by the Great North Road at Stamford. In Saxon times there was a fort alongside the river – and the route north was via a ford.....

  • River Nene - Wansford

River Nene

In Roman times, Ermine Street crossed the Nene to the west of modern Peterborough, close to Durobrivae. The site of the Roman bridge is still evident in.....

  • norman cross prison

Norman Cross

Norman Cross is no major settlement but it has been a well known point of interest along the Great North Road for centuries. It is now necessary to make.....

  • Eleanor Cross Stamford

Queen Eleanor’s Cross – Stamford

For 350 years The Queen’s Cross was a prominent landmark close to the Great North Road near Stamford. Until destroyed by Cromwellian forces it stood to the.....

Sawtry Abbey

The site of Sawtry Abbey is squeezed between the Great North Road and the east coast mainline railway. Not far away you can find Monks Wood and Abbots.....

  • stamford canal warehouse

Stamford Canal

The Stamford Canal was the longest canal with locks in the country when it was opened, preceding the 'canal age' by around 100 years. By the 16th century.....