The splendours of Stamford
If Sir Walter Scott were alive to revisit the town today he could still justifiably proclaim it to be “the finest stone town in England.” Its independent businesses, historical places of interest and welcoming atmosphere make it a place to return to time and again, writes Julie Sayed.
Back in Scott’s day Stamford, which is situated on the River Welland, would have been a bustling and lively place. This is still the case today. And with its medieval churches, well-preserved Georgian architecture and listed buildings it remains one of the most picturesque towns to visit in the country.
One business that has survived for a little over forty years is Dawson of Stamford Ltd, which was originally started by John Dawson, who still takes an active interest in the business today.
Director Paul Rose said: “Dawson’s has been located in Red Lion Square in the town since 1989 and sells amongst its goods modern and antique jewellery, silver, objets, period jewellery and antique furniture.
“Since Dawson’s began trading it has had deep roots in the jewellery trade and you would be surprised by the distances people travel to shop with us. Our jewellery business has remained remarkably strong over the years but trade has died away a lot in the antique furniture business – but fashions come and go and then revive again and we still get interest in the items we sell.”
Mr Rose believes that being an independent trader is part of the success of the business. “Stamford is a town with a good selection of independent traders and people really like that and it is partly why the businesses continue to flourish,” he said.
“Many have been established in the town for a number of years, some as long as us and one or two even longer, but we also have new people arriving all the time.
“This keeps the retail offer fresh and we all feed of each other. We, for example, also have an interest in a nearby menswear shop and so customers trade with us in both outlets. And, of course, we have the big name stores on the high street, so we cater for everyone.”
Mr Rose also added that Stamford, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary of being the first conservation town in England, continues to grow with two or three new housing developments ongoing.
“I just hope we don’t grow too big, it’s great that we have growth and that people want to live here but we are a Georgian town with a Georgian infrastructure and it is not going to cope with more modern day pressures.”
In May homeware design specialist Sophie Allport celebrated the first anniversary of opening its shop in Stamford’s High Steet. The business, which was established in Langtoft, also opened a new head office in nearby Bourne in September last year.
The shop in Stamford sells a good range of Sophie Allport products, including practical items for the kitchen, garden and home.
Louise Mahon, who works in marketing at head office, said: “Sophie, who has been in business for more than ten years, draws much of her inspiration from the Lincolnshire countryside.
“We recently celebrated the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by producing commemorative mugs, which we also did for the wedding of his brother to Kate Middleton. And we have a range of commemorative mugs for Wills and Kate’s three children.
“We were also delighted to win an award at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, for the highest quality of presentation of our souvenir stall there.
“Since opening our shop in Stamford, we have been really pleased by the response from shoppers and of course, Friday is market day in the town, when we always see increased footfall. Our online retail offer continues to grow and we now have around 600 stockists of goods in businesses in the UK and worldwide.”
When it comes to preparing young people for the twenty-first-century world of work, three independent schools – known collectively as the Stamford Endowed Schools – offer a tiptop education for youngsters aged from 3 to 18 years old.
Stamford Endowed Schools has the perfect solution for parents who would love to give their children the chance to experience both ‘single gender academic’ and ‘mixed co-curricular’ learning – by teaching girls and boys separately and together at different stages of their school education.
The aim is to develop well-rounded individuals, with the confidence and ability to reach their true potential, whatever their dream career.
The cultural offer in Stamford is also thriving and the Stamford Arts Centre is one venue that continues to go from strength to strength. Housed in an eighteenth-century building, the Arts Centre comprises a 166-seat theatre, cinema, ballroom, gallery and coffee shop.
Ben Reynolds, a member of the Centre’s marketing team, said: “We have two bars, including a Cellar Bar where we host regular comedy nights, and our poetry nights are very popular.”
The offer at the Centre is broad with everything from experimental theatre to workshops for the arts, from fine art to dance. As an independent cinema, the Arts Centre shows a wide variety of movies. For its upcoming Tibetan season, there will be a screening of Frank Capra’s classic Lost Horizon.
“I also run cinema shows in the Cellar Bar, supported by the BFI, which are very popular,” added Ben.
In the theatre you will be treated to everything from musicals to productions catered especially to children, such as Sidney’s Shed, which is aimed at 5-12 year olds.
“You can catch The Moonlighters featuring Helen on 29th June. This is a quartet which plays smooth jazz tunes and songs from the Great American Songbook,” said Ben.
“We also host Music in Quiet Places in churches in the South Kesteven area, all over – in little villages, out in the community – bringing [people] beautiful music in beautiful venues.”
Just outside Stamford, but very much associated with the town is Burghley House, a grand sixteenth-century country house set in acres of glorious parkland. Like other stately homes, Burghley is open to the public and offers a wealth of fascinating history for visitors to delve into.
It has diversified to offer a series of popular events to draw the crowds too. And of course, Burghley Horse Trials (30th August – 2nd September) will, once again, be a highlight on the county’s calendar.
Other attractions to look out for this coming summer are its five-day Film Festival, an open-air event where you can picnic on the lawns and enjoy favourites such as Top Gun, The Great Gatsby and for the younger members of the family, The Lion King and Paddington.
Also new for this year is the Otherworldy sculpture exhibition in the grounds which explores the surreal, strange, magical, cosmic and interplanetary. This exhibition runs until October and amongst the exhibits is a lifesize, seventeen-metre-long depiction of Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer from Star Wars created by Colin Furze, a YouTube super inventor.
Music events feature strongly at Burghley with the Magic of Motown and the Battle Proms Concert among the popular listings on the programme.
Shakespeare fans can enjoy plays by the Bard performed in the open-air setting of Tolethorpe Hall, near Stamford. This year’s performances include The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The Hall’s origins date back 800 years and its grounds make for a marvellous and atmospheric setting.
For some, no visit to Stamford would be complete without popping into the historic George Hotel for refreshment. Thought to be around 1,000 years old, this is one of the country’s best coaching inns and is a delightful place to enjoy afternoon tea, dine in the oak-panelled restaurant, or stay in one of the hotel’s upscale rooms while you visit the town and surrounding countryside.
SIMPLIFYING LEGAL SERVICES
Local law firm Hegarty Solicitors, based in Stamford, Oakham and Peterborough has launched a new website with the aim of demystifying legal services.
The new Hegarty Solicitors website features legal guides, frequently asked questions and information to help explain and simplify legal services.
Laura Charnley, marketing manager at Hegarty Solicitors commented: “Language used in legal services can often be unfamiliar and processes may seem complex, therefore a key focus in designing our new website was enabling local people to access legal information in an easy, informative way.
“Our new website features a range of frequently asked legal questions, alongside guides to legal services to help explain these processes. Our guides use plain English to explain what will happen at each step along the way, whether that be a conveyancing matter, divorce, writing a will or many other common legal matters.
“Alongside these resources, our website also features handy calculators for people to find out how much their case is likely to cost.”
Hegarty Solicitors was founded by senior partner Richard Hegarty in 1974 and is an integral part of the local community in Stamford, Oakham and Peterborough. The firm offers a wide range of legal services for both businesses and individuals.
HISTORIC THEATRE BRINGS ART TO LIFE
Stamford Arts Centre is home to an amazing array of live drama, poetry, music, films, talks, comedy, exhibitions and workshops for people of all ages and interests. The Arts Centre houses one of the best preserved Georgian ballrooms in the country, an historic theatre, snack kiosk, coffee shop and two bars that provide an exciting experience for everyone.
This summer brings more big names in music like Kris Drever and Peterborough Voices. Some of the best of the UK’s theatre-makers will be performing high quality, top rated shows that will make you happy and sad and laugh out loud and have something thought-provoking to talk with friends and family about for years to come! It’s really easy to find out what’s on with the Arts Centre’s brochures and website, the staff team are amazing and the venue is comfortable with an accessible ground floor. Get ready to join in with a summer that’ll be great fun!
CHARITY GOLF DAY RETURNS FOR STAMFORD FESTIVAL
Chartered accountants and business advisers Duncan & Toplis are organising this year’s Stamford Festival Charity Golf Tournament on Friday 29th June.
Last year saw Crestwood and the Burghley Extras tie for first place, scoring 112 points each. Ultimately, Crestwood were awarded the winner’s shield by Stamford Town Mayor, Cllr Tony Story.
A favourite tradition of the tournament is the awarding of the infamous Wooden Spoon, which last year went to King West who came bottom of the rankings.
Organiser, Tim Hindmarch from Duncan & Toplis’ Stamford office said: “We’re proud to be organising this year’s charity golf day, which raises a lot of money for good causes. As well as the main awards for the 18-hole course, we also have trophies for the longest drives and for the person who is nearest to the pin.”
Entry costs £180 per team and includes a supper. Contact Lisa Pask at email@example.com or phone 01476 591200. All proceeds go to local Stamford charities.
PREPARING PUPILS FOR THE 21ST-CENTURY BOARDROOM
The Stamford Endowed Schools are three independent schools working together to provide a first-class education to pupils aged 3-18. Structured as a ‘diamond’, boys and girls are taught together at the co-ed nursery and junior school before splitting to the respective boys’ and girls’ senior schools until the age of 16. This allows for a more tailored and personalised education at every level, either as day pupils or as boarders, before coming back together in a joint sixth form. This model of ‘single-gender academic and mixed co-curricular’ provides the best of all worlds.
With a convenient and extensive bus route service covering over 25 stops spanning as far as Newark, Grantham and Bourne, the SES day school and weekly boarding options are providing many pupils across Lincolnshire with an outstanding education. With strong historic ties to Burghley House, (William Cecil being one of the Schools’ alumni), and set in a beautiful market town with acres of open land, students enjoy extensive facilities both in and out of the classroom.
The Stamford Endowed Schools, which are steeped in history and tradition dating back as far as 1532 together with their extended communities, provide an unusually broad range of opportunities to inspire pupils, encourage curiosity and instil a love of learning. The Schools take pride in helping to develop well-rounded individuals who achieve their full potential, nurturing them to become who they want to be. This is illustrated by the impressive array of the Schools’ alumni with a wide range of diverse careers. Independent minds are at the very heart of the three Schools, preparing Stamfordians for the ‘21st-Century Boardroom’, wherever and whatever that might be.