Stamford, England: 5 Family Favorites
If you ever find yourself in Stamford, Licolnshire – and I hope you do – you will be visiting “England’s most attractive town.” That’s according to the poet laureate, John Betjeman. I agree. Stamford, a small cobbled-street market town 100 miles north of London, has remained relatively untouched for the last 300 years. It is characterized by streets of timber-framed and stone buildings, with little shops tucked down back alleys. It’s a great place to stop if you are touring England. Here’s five places we like to visit when staying in Stamford.
This impressive Elizabethan house, built around 1555, stands in beautiful grounds on the edge of Stamford. The gardens are lovely for picnics (although there are two prettily situated cafes).
The inside of the house is interesting, but before your kids turn up their noses at another carved ceiling, show them the Garden of Surprises. This walled area has fountains and a mirror maze (take swimsuits for your kids) and is a fabulous place to spend the afternoon, especially for younger children.
Over 150 years old, this steam railway runs for seven and a half miles between Wansford (10 minutes drive from Stamford) and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. If your kids love Thomas the Tank Engine, he appears many weekends during the summer months. However, larger and more impressive steam engines run every day. There are five stations along the line and a round trip takes 90 minutes. There is something to see if you disembark at any of the stations. Ferry Meadows, a large parkland with a cafe, playground and duck pond, is our favorite.
The perfect place for kids of all ages, Sacrewell Farm is 10 minutes drive from Stamford. There are plenty of farm animals (rabbits, goats, horses and many more) to pet and feed. Experts are available to help you hold many of the smaller animals, or educate you on farm life.
There are two mazes, a great playground and a super restaurant with lots of kid friendly food. At the bottom of the farm, you can explore the 18th century water mill.
4. The Meadows and River Walk, Stamford
Stamford is built around the River Welland, which runs though the town. It’s delightful (and easy) to walk down by the river. The area called the Meadows is a pleasant place to picnic and watch or feed the birds. Walk a little further along pretty footpaths to find the Boadicea plaque recording her pursuit of the Romans, and the starting point for the Jurassic Way.
5. Tea at The Granary
If you are looking for somewhere traditional to eat with your kids, you should go to the the Granary at Willow Brook Farm in Helpston Heath, 10 minutes drive from Stamford. It’s a small, simple tearoom and restaurant, used mainly by locals, set in East Anglia farmland.
My children loved having tea and cakes here. The service is friendly and warm. More importantly, the coffee is great (unusual in England) and the home-cooked food is delicious. Sit outside when the weather is fine on the charming pine furniture.