Discovering ways to connect Stamford

It’s the perfect blend of old and new sitting effortlessly side by side that makes the picturesque market town a delight to visit for all generations. By Kate Chapman.

Steeped in history yet bursting with life, the town is home to a hub of vibrant and independent shops and businesses selling everything from clothing, books and antiques to quality local food and drink.

Stamford grew rich on the wool trade and in the early Middle Ages was an important cloth making town, although it really came to prominence in the 18th century as a fashionable staging post on the Great North Road, linking London and Edinburgh.

With its colourful heritage and beautiful architecture, it’s easy to see why Sir Walter Scott declared it ‘the finest sight on the road between Edinburgh and London’.

Today the town is home to 600 listed buildings – including the stunning Burghley House, one of the most prominent Elizabethan mansions in the country, built by William Cecil, an advisor to Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587. While more recently the town was given the honour of being made Britain’s first urban Conservation Area in 1967.

And even if you’re yet to visit, you’ll be familiar with its fine Georgian buildings which have appeared on both the small and silver screen as a backdrop to productions including Pride and Prejudice, The Da Vinci Code, Middlemarch and The Crown.

It’s the town’s desire to celebrate its rich cultural history which is currently top of the agenda too. Stamford Town Council is in the process of applying for Museum Accreditation so the town can have its own dedicated museum once more.

For many years, Stamford’s Museum was located on Broad Street, but funding cuts forced it to close its doors for good back in 2011. Since then, a small exhibition of artefacts and history has been on display in the town’s library under the banner of Discover Stamford.

However, the town council has decided that Stamford needs – and should have – its own museum and now a dedicated committee, led by town councillor Shaun Ford, has been set up to help make this a reality.

The first and most important step in the process of establishing a museum is obtaining Museum Accreditation, conferred by The Arts Council, which ensures that museums manage their collections properly, engage with visitors fully and are governed appropriately.

A report from the museum committee says the eligibility status of Stamford Museum is currently recognised as Working Towards Accreditation and that the town council now has up to four years to submit its final application.

The accreditation is currently based on Stamford Museum being located within the Town Hall, due to its accessibility to the public and because it is owned by the town council, but the report says other venues will also be considered. The council is also keen that the new museum embodies the needs and ideas of town residents, business owners and visitors. To ensure this happens it is holding a number of public consultations throughout the summer and autumn and has devised a questionnaire for people to complete via its newsletter.

Those wanting to know more about some of Stamford’s historic sites can also take advantage of a new, free app launched by Stamford Civic Society, which it has developed with students at Stamford College.

The app, which can be used online at gives a guide to 45 historical sites – including Lord Burghley’s Hospital and the Recreation Ground – and how to get to them.

As we’ve seen, consultation and the environment is important to Stamford; the findings of a survey by Connect Stamford, a community group set up to promote active travel in the town, found more people would start cycling and would cycle more if it was safer to do so.

That survey was carried out after the enforced lockdowns and group founder David Taylor said: “We launched Connect Stamford to capitalise on the huge growth in walking and cycling which was enforced by the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We believe that it revealed a latent wish which people have to leave their car at home more and to get on their bikes and go out walking.”

Survey responders said more off-road paths and cycleways were important, while there were strong levels of support for better connections between cycleways and the town centre, more cycle parking and on-road cycle lanes.

It is now hoped to create a Green Wheel – a traffic-free footpath and cycleway allowing traffic-free cycling and walking – around the outskirts of the town. Some areas for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – primarily residential streets bordered by main roads where measures can be taken to discourage car use and stop ‘rat-running’ and encourage shared use of the space by cars and pedestrians – have also been identified.

Connect Stamford also has other ideas in the pipeline to help drive its agenda including mass cycling events, a Car-Free Stamford Day, Burghley Bikes and campaigns to promote the health and environmental benefits of active travel.

Although the year is now halfway through, there is still much to look forward to. The town is already gearing up for the return of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, which are taking place for the first time in three years, having been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trials, which take place from Thursday 1st September to Sunday 4th September, are under the guidance of new event director, Martyn Johnson, who took over the reins last November.

He said: “There’s a great team here, people who have been involved for a long time, we just wanted to get the event back and then we really hope that the visitors, and those who come regularly, have a good experience – that they come back and find what they know and love about Burghley, and enjoy that experience.”

The first Burghley Horse Trials took place in the Elizabethan parkland surrounding Burghley House in 1961 after the Marquess of Exeter, a keen equestrian, heard the three-day event at Harewood was cancelled due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. He invited the British Horse Society to transfer the event to Burghley, where 19 competitors rode in front of a mere 12,000 people. Today the trials have become one of the most popular and highly regarded fixtures within the equestrian and social calendars, ranking within the UK’s top ten national sporting occasions by attendance and drawing 170,000 people through the gates during the course of a week.

Theatregoers also have an exciting range of productions to look forward to, at nearby Tolethorpe Hall. Stamford Shakespeare Company will be bringing the greatest love story ever told – Romeo and Juliet – to life on selected dates in July and August. Other shows planned for the 2022 season include Spider’s Web – a comedy whodunnit from the Queen of crime Agatha Christie – an electrifying retelling of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Hay Fever, a hilarious comedy penned by Noël Coward in the 1920s.

Stamford town centre is awash with colour this summer, thanks to the wonderful efforts of Stamford In Bloom, which after securing bronze in 2018 and silver in 2019, is going for a gold medal in 2022’s competition.

Co-ordinator Ann Ellis said an army of volunteers has been busy planting, weeding, dead-heading and watering raised beds, planters and other public areas ahead of the judging, which takes place around the middle of July.

As well as maintaining a number of public spaces, the group has also planted up and delivered just under 40 decorated chairs. Each one has been completed with a variety of perennials and annuals along the theme of The Queen, her castles, her clothes and her horses, to brighten up spots outside the local businesses and organisations that have sponsored them. The chairs have been in place since the weekend before HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and are brought out daily before being moved in for the evening.

In addition, Stamford Flower Club also has a full programme in place for its bike displays on the Music Shop’s bike, which is located on the hospital roundabout in Stamford.

Ann added: “The town centre really is bursting with colour, it’s lovely to see. The council asked us to get the town ready for the Jubilee, so we’ve been keeping things going for six weeks.

“We have to have a low impact, we can’t detract from the architecture but nevertheless everywhere looks lovely.”

Ann added that the Stamford In Bloom effort is a combined one, involving people from a variety of organisations and businesses across the town.

“We have a core of volunteers, but there are about 50 or more people who we’re able to call on – a lot of them all have their own specialist jobs, including people at the foundry, someone who does the printing, it’s a real town effort,” she said.

“This is our third year after doing 2018 and 2019, then the contest stopped during the pandemic in 2020. Many of our members were unable to get out and about during that time due to various reasons, but we found new, younger volunteers who were keen to get out of the house and they carried on with many of the jobs.

“We don’t have regular meetings, we put jobs out on our WhatsApp group, and if people are available, they respond. It helps to keep things more flexible, and we tend to work in smaller groups of six. I’m standing down as co-ordinator after this year, so it would be lovely to go out on a gold!”

To mark the tenth anniversary of Stamford having its own Poet Laureate, the town has appointed two popular poets to the role for 2022.

Scott Coe is the new Stamford Laureate, alongside Daniel Paice who is the inaugural Stamford Youth Laureate – a role created to encourage a younger audience to pick up a pen and write.

The two laureates will work alongside each other, Scott writing poems for the traditional civic role with Daniel working in an outreach role with schools and youth groups.

Throughout the year the new Poet Laureates will work with Stamford Arts Centre and in the community to support the poetry scene and help to continue to make poetry part of the life of the town.

Scott is looking forward to his year as Stamford Laureate and said: “I can’t wait to help grow and support the local poetry scene and the local creative community as well.”

Nineteen-year-old Daniel added: “To be appointed is an absolute honour, and a bit surreal, to become the Inaugural Youth Poetry Laureate.”

“I aim to show young people that poetry can be a creative outlet that can be accessed by all. It’s time to show that young and disabled people can achieve great things.”

Poetry is thriving in Stamford, where the town’s Arts Centre, run by South Kesteven District Council, supports poetry and the spoken word, bringing some of the biggest names to perform.

Visitors can also get in on the act with the regular Pint of Poetry event where everyone can perform. It usually takes place on the last Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm in The Gallery, Stamford Arts Centre.

Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, South Kesteven District Council cabinet member for culture and visitor economy, said: “It’s clear from the incredibly popular Pint of Poetry events, our regular Verse Festival and the town’s Poetry Stone where people recite their verses, just how important the spoken word is. Having two fine minds behind this year’s official poetry composition can only emphasise that and I would like to wish both new incumbents a successful and prolific year ahead.”

Washing a rug is a labour-intensive heavy job, returning a rug to its former glory requires a lot of skill, knowledge and finishing processes to eliminate any further damage.

The process begins by beating the rug using a machine. In certain cases it may be laid down upside down first onto a grid, and walked on for a few days as we work to remove the excess dirt. A wash bath is then prepared using the correct ph water to prevent colour run. A mild Turkish soap is used as it doesn’t strip the natural oil ‘lanolin’ from the rug.

Full immersion enables the rug to be washed front and back, loosening the grit and diluting the stain. Heavily stained areas are then treated further with an appropriate stain remover to continue to dilute the area. As you can see, the rug pictured had quite a large starch stain which had affected the colour. We advised our client not to treat the area with any chemicals as this would create a chemical reaction. Instead we recommended to sluice with a neutral ph water, such as soda water, and blot prior to bringing the rug for cleaning. Once neutralised we replaced the colour using specialist textile dyes to blend the area.

Finally, the pile is brushed to loosen and open up the fibres. Water is then extracted using a large machine prior to hanging to dry. It is the moisture left in a rug that causes rot and shredding like paper. Once dried the rug is then beaten and brushed again, plus any other finishing processes required such as ‘polishing’ or ‘pumicing’.

All stains are technically possible to remove, but can outweigh the value of the piece, leave a definitive ring around if in a plain area or at times are just too stubborn without using harsh chemicals, which may cause other problems. If it is impossible for a stain to be removed from rubbing through home chemical treating, the affected area is removed and restored appropriately. Call or email for a no obligation quotation.

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As a thriving multi-arts venue, Stamford Arts Centre provides the opportunity to experience and enjoy a wide variety of theatre, cinema, art, music and more, and is proud to play host to a diverse choice of outstanding musical artists this season.

Among the many unmissable musical events taking place in the beautiful ballroom this summer is a unique jazz themed evening of sophisticated song stylings showcasing the talented duo of Claire Martin and renowned pianist Dave Newton in their new show, ‘Two for the Road’, on Wednesday 29th June at 7.30pm.

This highly acclaimed pair will combine their unique musical talents for an intimate concert joined by internationally acclaimed Jeremy Brown (bass) and Steve Brown (drums), who come together to celebrate jazz legends Carmen McRae and George Shearing, promising an evening of world-class music.

In contrast, audiences are invited to enjoy a change of rhythm and pace with the award-winning progressive francophone folk quintet Le Vent du Nord on Wednesday 13th July at 7.30pm. A leading force in Québec’s folk movement, the group explore new sounds with stunning vocal arrangements in a dynamic live performance. Since its inception in August 2002, Le Vent du Nord has enjoyed meteoric success, performing more than 1,800 concerts over five continents while gaining several prestigious awards, including a Grand Prix du Disque Charles Cros, two Junos (Canada’s Grammys), a Félix at ADISQ, a Canadian Folk Music Award, and ‘Artist of the Year’ at the North American Folk Alliance Annual Gala.

Whatever your musical tastes, Stamford Arts Centre promises a great night out with something for everyone!

For more information and to book your tickets, visit

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Photographs: Mick Fox

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