Take a tour of Stamford
The streets and alleyways of Stamford chart more than 1,000 years of colourful history and yet the town is continually evolving against this backdrop.
Why not discover - or rediscover - "the ancient charms" of England's finest stone town, and take this pleasant wallk...
Start at Station Road, where there's ample parking close to the town's railway station, and head towards High Street St Martin's, taking a stroll through the Mews on the right-hand side, the courtyard behind The George Hotel. Here a parade of shops selling arts and crafts set in front of the Monastery Gardens, now believed not to have been a monastery, but the cloistered quadrangle of a former church where it is said that young Crusaders once strolled.
High Street St Martin's is home to a selection of shops, including an Aladdin's cave of antiques, and hotels offering morning coffees, lunches and snacks. Dominating the skyline and well worth a closer look is St Martin's Church, which houses the tomb of William Cecil, advisor to Elizabeth I and the first Lord Burghley, while Daniel Lambert - who at the time of his death boasted a 9ft 4ins waistline - is buried in the churchyard.
A short stroll across the Town Bridge to the left, on to St Mary's Hill, is an opportunity to pop in to some of the oldest and newest shops in Stamford, so why not browse the eclectic mix or select something for yourself from one of the town's exquisite clothes shops?
On the right-hand side is the Town Hall, an imposing Georgian building still used as an occasional court of law. Turn right, past St Mary's Church into St Mary's Street, where you will find gifts and homeware and fashions to suit all styles. It's well-worth stopping and shopping, and there's also the chance to see some of the town's architectural history above the shop fronts, including the classical columns of the former Stamford Hotel, dating from 1829 and featuring the Statue of Justice by sculptor JFC Rossi, whose work can also be seen at The Royal Opera House and St Paul's Cathedral.
To the left, look out for Cheyne Lane, which despite diminutive dimensions, has eateries spanning three continents. At the top of the lane the High Street suddenly comes into view, an attractive shopping scene, sometimes criticised for its lack of independent shops yet this pedestrian precinct offers a wide selection of goods. Turning right, head for Ironmonger Street, home to a range of trendy stores.
At the top of Ironmonger Street is the stunning vista of Broad Street. To the right is St Mary and St Augustine RC Church – an architectural late-comer built in the Gothic style during Victoria's reign with a remarkable bell turret, and a breath of fresh air compared with the cellars used in days gone by. On the same side of the street and to your left, is Browne's Hospital, founded in 1475 as a medieval almshouse for the poor and accommodating ten men and two women and featuring some stunning stained glass windows.
Passing Browne's Hospital, head down Red Lion Street into Red Lion Square. Ahead and to the right is All Saints Church, recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and later rebuilt by John and William Browne, and on the right, Barn Hill, a mainly residential street including Barn Hill House, Stamford's largest residence. Stukeley House, at No 9, is said to stand on the site of the house where Charles I spent his last night of freedom, in 1646.
Red Lion Square reveals the changing face of Stamford – a wonderful collection of shops and quaint cafes line three sides of the square.
Crossing to the opposite corner of the square, a wide passage leads into Sheep Market, a second area undergoing work where a traditional selection of shops and pubs face down towards the Meadows, a beautiful stretch of land between the forks of the River Welland and the tranquil Millstream. Before heading down Castle Dyke to feed the ducks, look out for the Stamford Mercury offices on the left, which has been printing the town's news each week since 1712.
As Castle Dyke widens into Bath Row, perhaps stop for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the restaurants and cafes to the left, which make the most of the Meadows views.
Following the path across the Meadows back to Station Road, don't forget to look back at Stamford and see a panoramic view of the town, with church spires peeking out from the rooflines.