Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Stamford and Queen Boadicea

Stamford in Lincolnshire (no relation to Stamford Bridge the football ground!) has been around since before the doomsday book and has been an important place for its wools and markets and stone, but it was also the only place in the uk that missed out on the industrial revolution, hence its old architical buildings and its modern day "catch up"

Before any of these events took place Stamfords river played a part during the fight with the Romans and its first bridge is just a few hundred meters away from the town centre.
It was one of the major routes to the Lincoln, London and York.
It is known that the last of the 9th Legion of the Romans fled across the bridge on their withdrawal from the Britons, and being pursued by Queen Boadicea, leader of the Britons.
Between London and Wroxeter in Shropshire this area was once known as the battle of Watling Street, one that Boadicea lost, though the end of the Roman Empire was also crumbling and meant the end of Roman rule in Britain, though Boadicea did not see it for she died (not certain whether she killed herself or died of illness) before the end of Roman occupation.
Remnants of the bridge are still visible today.
When the bridge collapsed a new bridge was built further up that proved it to be a more viable option and Stamford then grew around it during the Saxon times.
Just visible are parts of the Roman bridge, other parts of it can be seen further up.

Every year Stamford plays host to an annual fair in April that has gone on for decades and it seems that almost every street is one giant fairground.



Just for that one week Stamfords historic town is overtaken by all colours and manners of rides and ghost trains, ferris wheels and hook a duck and countless burger and candy stalls.
Its market is put on hold for a week and peace is shattered! But it is all in a good cause as it generates an income to the local economy and local charities benefit.
What the old buildings think of this modern day interruption I don`t know, but a good time is had by the majority.

When the Fair is gone, Stamford gets back to normal and the old buildings shine once more.
I`m not sure what to make of the churches and gravestones in the city centre, but Stamford was once very important to the wool trade and old timber houses grew around the churches (5 remain today and were the first stone buildings to be built here) and as the town began to prosper, the timber frames were slowly replaced by stone cladding and then stone buildings as quarries were dug and the stone was found to be very strong and sturdy that it began exporting it around the uk.
Ketton stone, an oolitic limestone, collyweston slate and Clipsham stone, a limestone created by the fossilisation of millions of sea creatures.
Yorkstone also played a major part here.




Like the majority of the uk, you never know where your journey will take you and what you`ll find out once you start researching a place about its history and its people.
Stamford is a place that requires more looking into with its old thatched roofs in places and some huge dwellings on the outskirts that proved peoples status and  symbolised wealth and power.
I wonder what Boadicea would have made of it today.......... 

Friday, 8 April 2011

Stamford via Easton On The Hill

With such glorious weather for April and the night-shift looming, I couldn`t pass up the opportunity of a lovely walk to Stamford in Lincolnshire (or Northamptonshire!) and with Willow waiting eagerly, lead in paws, she was ready too. 
We would follow parts of the Hereward, Jurassic and Macmillan Way, and it is only 6 miles long, but enjoyable.
Starting at Ketton, Just past the church, we picked up our first sign that would take us through a small wood and alongside a housing estate before reaching out to the open plains.......


With the route quite well signposted, Willow stops to explore the vegetation!
And The Daffodils and Rape seed have come out to play showing their vibrant colours!
After heading south and through a small village called Geeston, we returned to open countryside and occasionally  the quarry works would give the usual boom of explosives. I was still pondering how long my house would be standing for, still it is damned good solid stone!


With roads to be followed and views admired, it is a walk that is gentle on foot and desired.
With the drystone walling falling down, the cement works and quarry are a dominant feature and I wanted to put the wall back together!
It was soon that we entered a village called Easton On The Hill and is around 400 years old.
Originally it was a farming village, with many still here today and a Priests House which dates back to around 1475 - 1500.
Today it is a museum and well worth a look.
I also met the oldest resident of Easton On The Hill Mr Sunny Nicholls.

Inside the Priests House (which is now National Trust Owned) is a narrow winding staircase which takes you to the museum and houses an array of ironmongery etc once used long ago and it also tells of the history behind the Priests House and village.
Now peckish, we decided to visit the Blue Bell Public House for a meal and refreshment and we were not disappointed, but I couldn`t quite manage the huge portion infront, I had help - Willow of course! But reasonably priced and helpful staff, why not pop in for a pint or two?

As we were walking out of Easton, I noticed a poster that had recently been put up and alarm bells began to ring......
I spoke to one of the local villagers who told me all about the company that wanted to take low level radioactive waste and bury it a couple of miles down the road!
It is actually not one of the best companies in the uk, its record in safety is abysmal, but no doubt they`ll probably give the councillors the usual back handers and it`ll go through, normal practice these days for a society that is getting more corrupt - or is it my imagination? somehow I don`t think so and judging by the village turnout last night, it is not welcome and will not benefit the locals apart from congestion and road accidents that have doubled.
If you have one 40 tonne lorry carrying low level waste, doesn`t that make it a high level risk?
I know from living in Tow Law in County Durham during the foot and mouth crisis of 2001 how conditions of the locals worsened and the stench from the quarries that were dug a mile outside of the village to hold the thousands of dead cattle was horrendous and made you physically sick.
Good luck to the locals in fighting these guys, I`ll be backing you up.......
 This picturesque village is under threat and needs our support.
It is typically English and steeped in history, we can`t lose it.......
 The Local church and Willow still wants to play!
We headed out of the village and through farmers fields and then onto a nasty bit, the railway line...

The only railway crossing we had to make.
A minute after we crossed a freight train came rushing round the bend and the tunnel that went underneath the A1 and Stamford was a mile away.
 The day was very warm and Willow took a well deserved dip!
Our final destination.....Stamford.
With the four church towers and spires showing the way, it was a pleasant site and we will be exploring Stamford in detail tomorrow...........