Delightful STAMFORD, in the southwest corner of Lincolnshire, is a handsome little limestone town of yellow-grey seventeenth- and eighteenth-century buildings edging narrow streets that slope up from the River Welland. The town’s salad days were as a centre of the medieval wool and cloth trade, when wealthy merchants built its medley of stone churches and houses. Stamford was also the home of William Cecil, Elizabeth I’s chief minister, who built his splendid mansion, Burghley House, close by.

The town survived the collapse of the wool trade, prospering as an inland port after the Welland was made navigable to the sea in 1570, and, in the eighteenth century, as a staging point on the Great North Road from London. More recently, Stamford escaped the three main threats to old English towns – the Industrial Revolution, wartime bombing and postwar development – and was designated the country’s first Conservation Area in 1967. Thanks to this, its unspoilt streets readily lend themselves to period drama- and filmmaking, and although it’s the harmony of Stamford’s architecture that pleases rather than any specific sight, there are still a handful of buildings of some special interest.

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