Stepping up to celebrate summer

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
July 2021

Iis narrow alleyways and hidden courtyards are home to a variety of speciality shops, fine jewellers and designer boutiques, whilst its High Street has a choice of independent and recognised retailers so there is no wonder visitors come from far and wide to experience Stamford’s charm and character.

Normally a traditional bustling market town, Stamford like everywhere else has felt the effects of the pandemic. But confidence is high that recovery is coming and the business, retail and hospitality sectors will all bounce back.

Always a place of importance in the country’s history, Stamford evolved around a natural stopping point at a ford where the Great North Road (A1) crossed the River Welland.

For centuries this famous thoroughfare brought trade and prosperity and provided convenient access to the rest of the country, ensuring a commercial importance that only declined with the advent of the railways.

The town and its surrounding area boasts more than 600 listed stone buildings constructed from local limestone and is protected by its conservation status, which was awarded in 1967, making the centre of Stamford the first urban Conservation Area in England.

As a result Stamford has been popular with filmmakers, who have produced the television series Middlemarch and the film Pride and Prejudice in the area with the town’s privately owned Elizabethan stately home, Burghley House, portrayed as the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with its Orangery restaurant, gardens and historic parkland laid out by ‘Capability’ Brown.

Stamford’s commercial importance dates back to the Saxons and by the 10th century the town was a borough – whose rights were confirmed between 1462 and 1714 by successive Royal Charters.

It is renowned for its wide range of small independent shops in the St Mary’s Hill area together with a surprisingly extensive range of retail outlets along the pedestrianised High Street and Ironmonger Street.

And as the country slowly returns to some sort of normality, Stamford has taken a step forward in its ambitions to make its town centre more friendly towards cyclists and pedestrians.

The move follows the county council receiving £799,999 from central government for a range of projects across Lincolnshire.

The county had sought public feedback, receiving 2,750 replies from residents and business organisations showing majority support for them.

Each scheme will be implemented for a period of up to 18 months after which a decision will be made as to whether or not to keep the changes.

Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways and transport at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We were clear when we launched the consultation that only those schemes with public support would get the go-ahead.

“Where these schemes are being implemented, they will be temporary for up to 18 months. If they work for the community, we can make them permanent. And if they don’t, we can take them out again easily.”

Alongside those plans, the provision of sports facilities in the town has been enhanced through the expansion of Stamford College’s purpose-built Borderville Sports Centre.

The £2.1 million renovation has extended and upgraded the centre’s facilities, providing six additional classrooms and a fitness studio.

The campus, which is home to Stamford College’s Sport, Public Services, Football Academy and (RAF) Air and Defence students, is a shared enterprise between the college and Stamford AFC.

But since opening in 2014 it has become a well-loved hub of the wider community, offering space for both fitness and education.

Funded by Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP), the new gym and classrooms will enable Stamford College to deliver what it describes as ‘a higher level of qualifications including digitally enhanced training in sports science, health and social care and public services’, with plans to offer an additional 10 qualifications.

The state-of-the-art facilities and innovative training will support local business needs and benefit at least 220 local employers including Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Police Services.

Businesses will work with the college to develop the new curriculum and target education and training opportunities to their current and future plans.

Having been awarded funding for the expansion of Borderville, the college has received an additional £2.14m to create 400sqm of teaching space for construction students and apprentices based at its Drift Road site.

Art-lovers have not been forgotten either and after nearly a year of not being able to enjoy live theatre performances, visit art exhibitions or go to the cinema there are plenty of places offering people the chance to catch up.

The town even has its own Shakespeare Company which throughout the summer presents a season of classic plays at an open-air theatre in the grounds of Tolethorpe Hall.

The historic Stamford Corn Exchange building has also been fully refurbished to provide a 400-seat theatre run mainly by volunteers.

A diverse programme of entertainment is normally on offer at the venue from top class touring professional shows featuring live music, drama, dance and comedy, to amateur productions.

Then there is Stamford Arts Centre, built in 1768, which is one of the oldest provincial theatres in England, and normally holds many events throughout the year.

However as various refurbishment works in the building are continuing, initially it is just the cinema that will be open to the public and then later this summer and into the autumn there will be a selection of live events and workshops on offer.

It is currently hosting an outdoor exhibition featuring profiles of 32 artists and creatives from across the South Kesteven district. The art forms on display are as diverse as upholstery, stained glass, painting, graphic design and copperwork.

SK Creatives profiles for the Art Windows runs until mid-August and is a collaboration between South Kesteven District Council’s Cultural Services and Art Pop-Up which is an innovative, non-profit, contemporary arts organisation.

Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, SKDC’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, said: “Before Covid-19 struck, South Kesteven’s highly-skilled creative industry was vibrant, diverse and successful.

“The sector has been hit hard during the pandemic but celebrating the talent we have right on our doorstep over the coming months will help support its road to recovery.”

Stamford Arts Centre has a long and rich heritage dating back to 1727 when a public assembly room (which were popular across the UK at the time) was built on St George’s Square.

Dance was the most important feature but other activities which took place in assembly rooms included playing cards, taking tea and gossiping.

The site was originally leased in 1727 from the Earl of Exeter by Askew Kirk, who was a dancing master, and it was a condition of the lease that the Assembly Room be built.

Stamford Theatre opened in 1768 and for the next 100 years many big names of the English stage appeared and the theatre catered for a variety of tastes.

But due to several factors, the theatre closed in 1861 as touring company visits became scarcer and rail travel was introduced giving audiences the opportunity to travel to bigger theatres elsewhere.

The building had various uses between 1871 and 1966 including becoming the headquarters of Stamford Billiard, News and Chess Club and being made available for casual lettings, general elections, dog training, badminton, dances, exhibitions, bazaars and jumble sales.

Then in 1966 it was agreed that local societies interested in the arts should meet together and the three rundown buildings – The Assembly Room, Theatre and House on St Mary’s Street and St George’s Square – were rented and transformed into a new Arts Centre.

The theatre was officially opened in 1978 by HRH the Duchess of Gloucester and two years later the Stamford Shoestring Theatre Company merged with the Arts Centre to become the resident repertory company of the theatre.

And it didn’t end there.

Due to the need for extra funding in 1990, management of Stamford Arts Centre was taken over by South Kesteven District Council, which implemented the staff and resources that were needed.

Two years later plans for a new cinema were given the go-ahead and the Arts Centre underwent a big summer refurbishment with the theatre getting new seats, a new lighting box and desk as well as space for the next phase of development: the film projector.

It was given another revamp in 2016 with new seating and a new colour scheme and the kiosk and theatre foyer were also updated.

Hopes are high in Stamford that August Bank Holiday will be a day to remember in the town this year.

That is the date selected for the town’s very first Festival of Diversity which is designed to be a celebration of world music, food and drink, arts and crafts and community interest stalls, with artists and vendors of different ethnicities and nationalities.

The event has been organised by Stamford’s Anti-Racism Group which was formed after the Black Lives Matter protest in the town in June last year to fight against all forms of racism in the local community.

The festival won the support of a community grant scheme run by South Kesteven District Council which has seen it awarded £5,000 towards costs dependent on the event being able to go ahead.

The grant will help fund the bands, a sound and lighting technician, stage, marquee, stalls, waste management, Portaloos and St John Ambulance attendance.

Events co-ordinator, Yvette Diaz-Munoz, said: “The reason we have gone for bank holiday Monday is because it is the weekend of the Notting Hill Carnival and though we are not quite Notting Hill we are a celebration of diversities and will make it into a really fun family day.

“It is celebrating a multi-ethnic and multinational community with music artists, the craft community, interesting styles, fusion food and drink as well as activities for children.”

The idea for the festival was inspired by results from an online survey circulated by the Stamford Anti-Racism Group which showed that raising awareness and events to celebrate the multi-ethnic community were deemed necessary.

Yvette said: “We are trying to do fun things outside our little Facebook group, to get into the community and show people that different ethnicities and nationalities are not something to be worried about, but something to be enjoyed and celebrated.”

Kate Needham and Hannah Forcellati are two great friends with a passion for beautiful home interiors, a touch of luxury, a shared love of travelling the world and a dream of setting up a business together in a town they both love. Kate and Hannah tell Lincolnshire Life their story.

“We launched Simply Stamford in December 2020 – our very own independent shop selling quality handpicked home furnishings, gifts and more. We are passionate about personally choosing each item we sell, making sure that they are beautiful and add a touch of luxury and sparkle to every home.

“We love to surround ourselves with beautiful things so we wanted a shop full of stylish things, wonderful smells and interesting pieces to buy. We offer a wide range of products from lighting, mirrors, glasses, vases, jugs and trays to home fragrances, clocks, art, soft furnishings, bar & kitchenware, selected furniture and so much more. Our style is best described as unique and timeless with a splash of colour and bit of sparkle!

“We want to create a personal shopping experience that is exciting, interesting and will delight each of our customers who will always be at the heart of everything we do.

“Our homes over the last year have become more important than ever as places to cherish and enjoy spending valuable time with our families, so it’s really important to us that we help our customers fill their homes with lots of beautiful pieces and things that they love.

“We are always on the lookout to find new and exciting products to add to our ever growing collection of homeware and gifts. We don’t really follow trends, we just buy products we love that are both beautiful and useful! We appreciate and enjoy every one of our products and we hope you do too.

“We hope you’ll enjoy shopping with us!”

For all the latest images and information be sure to follow Simply Stamford on Instagram @simply.stamford and Facebook: Simply Stamford, website – For press and media enquiries please contact Kate and Hannah by email:

Located opposite The George Hotel on St Martins in Stamford, this modern and relaxed bridal salon has its own workrooms creating its own in-house designer bridal label, Chanticleer Brides.

Brides are welcome to try on gowns from the latest stunning collections, or make the most of the unique option of choosing to commission a custom-made gown in beautiful fabrics, with original embroidery and beadwork.

As skilled couturiers, Atelier House of Anna Couture can make every bride’s dream come true with the help of their creative design team and skilled dressmakers, making this an extra special experience, while also ensuring the perfect fit.

“Each couture gown is created in our workrooms, from design to toile and fit to finish, we pride ourselves on competitive prices and work with the bride’s budget,” says owner Anna D’Amato, who has a successful background in costume design for film and television. “Chic silhouettes to timeless classics, our professional stylists can help you choose the perfect gown for your special occasion.”

The talented design team also specialise in made-to-measure corsets and historical costumes, while bridesmaids, mothers-of-the-bride and grooms are also well catered for.

As an exclusive retailer of Rainbow Club and Perfect Bridal Company shoes, there’s plenty of choice for bridal accessories, including shoes, bags, veils, stockings and hand-made lingerie and garters.

If you’re looking for glamorous styles for a special occasion, don’t miss a visit to sister shop Anna Couture Boutique on Cheyne Lane, where you’ll find red carpet labels such as Forever Unique and Gino Cerruti, with on trend accessories from hats and fascinators to shoes, bags and jewellery, as well as exclusive Veni Infantino, mother-of-the-bride and groom wear. For more information visit Anna Couture on Facebook or tel: 01780 762614.

Art deco, contemporary & modern art: saturday 31st july at 10am
The 20th Century Decorative Arts department at Stamford Auction Rooms showcases an extensive range of decorative interiors, glass, bronzes, ceramics, furniture and sculpture from the period.

With pieces from the Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Modernist and Art Deco periods as well as popular 20th century British pottery collectables, and works by contemporary ceramicists and studio potters such as John Ward, it makes for a spectacular auction.

Auctioneer Jessica Wall is delighted to be offering some very big names in the art world such as Banksy, Damien Hirst, Eduardo Paolozzi, Duncan Grant, Roy Lichtenstein and Peter Blake. She said: “I am a big art collector myself, and so it is very exciting to have some contemporary works in the July auction – I hope people will be as interested as I am to see how they fair on auction day!”

Art Deco Bronzes
Art Deco bronze figural sculptures by artists such as Demétre Chiparus, Josef Lorenzl, Jaroslaw Horejc, Marcel Andre Bourain, Gauthier and Duberry have soared in value in recent years, and the examples Jessica will be selling under the hammer do not disappoint.

Art Deco Jewellery & Mid Century Glass
Jessica feels that the current market is also very active for French glass makers such as René Lalique, Sabino Art glass, Baccarat and Holmegaard with superb examples to be sold in her 31st July specialist auction.

Among some of Stamford Auction Rooms’ other interesting lots are a Fabergé gold vesta case with ruby cabochon; a stunning Art Deco aquamarine, diamond and ruby brooch and a quantity of Fornasetti ceramics and a tray.

Be sure to view the online catalogue and watch the auction live – even if you don’t bid, it will certainly be a show-stopping sale!

If you have something you would like Jessica to sell, contact her for a free valuation by emailing: For forthcoming auction dates visit the website

Located on Sheep Market, Colin Bell Menswear is Stamford’s leading independent retailer of quality menswear offering a wide range of distinctive clothing from a hand-picked selection of leading fashion brands.

Whether you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe and stay in style with the latest trends, or need advice on buying the perfect suit and accessories for a special occasion, the friendly, knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you.

“We pride ourselves on our exceptional service and 30 years of industry knowledge, which gives our customers the trust they know they are getting exactly what they want,” says owner and style guru Nick Elson.

Established in 1987, Colin Bell Menswear has a loyal customer base who travel from a wide area throughout the East Midlands.

Among the many well priced premium menswear brands you will find at this well stocked, on-trend boutique are casual sportswear brand Fynch-Hatton, elegant Bugatti clothing and shoes, as well as Olymp and Giordano shirts.

Don’t miss the latest stylish summer collection which includes Meyer’s range of smart trousers, chinos and shorts, as well as hybrid jeans, which are ultra comfortable and offer a perfect fit.

Colin Bell Menswear also offers easy parking and is open Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 5pm. For more information tel: 01780 757888 or visit the website

With a well established reputation for outstanding meats and excellent customer service, award-winning Simpsons Butchers offers the very best quality farm assured produce at great value and full traceability.

First opened in Heckington in 2001 by Gary Simpson, Simpsons now has six branches, including one in the food hall at Stamford Garden Centre on Casterton Road, where you will find a selection of locally farmed restaurant quality meats and produce, including pork, beef, lamb and poultry, as well as sausages, minced meat and steaks.

Over recent years the Simpsons team has picked up many awards, including twice winners of Britain’s best butchers shop and been invited to join the prestigious Q Guild of elite butchers who pride themselves on delivering exacting standards that customers have come to expect.

Open Monday to Saturday 8.30am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm. For more information tel: 01780 757499 or visit the website at

Recently opened under new management, Rutland Zoo is a not-for-profit organisation which is home to a wide range of insects, mammals and birds, many of which have been rehomed.

The former Bugtopia centre was gifted to the animal rescue team headed by Joanna Aldwinkle and husband Jez, who run the zoo with friends Richard Munden and Vanessa Ainsworth, having previously set up the Midlands Giant Species Snake Rescue, which rehomes reptiles.

Based at Sykes Lane in Empingham, the zoo is open daily from 10am to 5pm, with last entry at 4.30pm. Ticket for adults are £7.50, children above three £6, under-threes £3 and concessions £6.

Weekend visitors should book in advance but drop-ins are welcome on weekdays.

For more information find Rutland Zoo on Facebook or telephone 07933 071250.

With more than 25 years of experience in designing, sourcing, cleaning and restoration of quality new and antique rugs, Rachel Bassill oversees her expert team at The Rug Studio, which offers an unrivalled service for clients in search of a perfect woven design to enhance their home.

Based in the heart of Stamford, The Rug Studio holds a wide range of stunning new Tribal West Asian designs, as well as traditional antique rugs from all over the world, made from both wool and silk. As a qualified rug weaver, Rachel worked in Egypt and Turkey before training her own workshop in India. Having learned the art of restoration in the UK, she continued her training in Konya, Turkey.

Rachel is passionate about both her profession and offering a quality service to customers.

“Our afternoon appointments allow clients plenty of time to discuss their specific requirements and browse our collection without being disturbed,” explains Rachel, who works with both private clients and interior designers.

“We can also arrange appointments at clients’ houses where we discuss their lifestyle and how to achieve an ideal environment before emailing photos of a suggested shortlist and arranging for clients to try two or three rugs in situ before making their final choice.

“Understanding the beauty of antique pieces and choosing that special one isn’t something to be rushed; to truly make the most of your purchase, you need to take your time and appreciate each one while also maintaining and looking after it to the best of one’s ability.”

The Rug Studio in Stamford is open Monday to Saturday 10am-1pm or by appointment. For more information visit

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