What to do and see in Stamford, England’s hidden gem

If you are planning a weekend (or even a few more days) in England and want to live a unique experience away from the usual English tourist destinations, the area of Stamford, Oakham e Rutland Water it could be the ideal destination for you. I was there for the first time with Felicity and our girls in March and I must say that I was pleasantly impressed by this area and the places in England I have visited in recent years (Oxford, visita a Stratford-upon-Avon, London, Cornwall, Cotswolds, Devon just to name a few).

Stamford it is the base point for visiting the whole area both by car and by public transport although I highly recommend using a rental car for travel especially if you are traveling with your family, as you can visit, in addition to the places I will go to mention in detail below, also small characteristic villages found in the region. But let’s go in order and start with what to do and see in Stamford.

Stamford: a blast from the past

Stamford, nicknamed “the most beautiful city in England”, is a Georgian treasure filled with medieval churches, sandstone houses and quaint shops. The first thing to do in Stamford is to walk through the cobbled streets of the historic centre, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and admire the period architecture of the houses and buildings, typical English architecture.

I also recommend you visit the Chiesa All Saints right in the center, with its imposing Gothic bell tower and the ancient All Saints’ School where the famous writer Daniel Defoe studied.

For lovers of history and architecture, a visit to Stamford Arts Centre it is a must; with a variety of theater shows, concerts and art exhibitions, there is always something new to discover. The center is also the home of the Stamford Tourist Information Centrewhere you can get more information on what to do and see in Stamford, as well as receive a free city map.

You can’t talk about Stamford without mentioning its theaters, such as the Stamford Corn Exchange Theatre e il Rutland Open Air Theatre, which offer a range of live entertainment, from comedy to classical concerts. For an evening of entertainment and culture, these places are the perfect choice.

For shopping, he St. Martins Antiques Center is the ideal place to find hidden treasures and antiques, while if you are interested in local history, the Browne’s Hospital and Museum offers a window into Stamford’s past with its collections and stories.

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Finally, don’t get lost the Friday food market if you are in the city on this day: the historic center is filled with stalls where you can buy local products at advantageous prices, as well as breathing in a nice atmosphere, undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Stamford.

Stamford

Afternoon tea a Stamford

To try something unique and typical English, I recommend a afternoon tea that is, a tasting of tea, sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, cakes and pastries (basically a lunch :). Tea can be of various types, but one of the favorites is Earl Grey. If you are not a tea lover there are no problems: you can opt for fruit juices or prosecco, the latest trend in England.

Dove fare un afternoon tea a Stamford?

Definitely al Central Café & Tea Rooms, reputed to be Stamford’s oldest tea room, set in a half-timbered building said to be part of a large 15th-century woolhouse. This place offers not only a wide selection of teas, but also delicious homemade desserts and breakfast and lunch options. We had 4 afternoon teas, 2 for us adults with a glass of prosecco, and 2 for the girls with fresh fruit juice. Great atmosphere, beautiful building and welcoming, friendly staff.

This tea room is located in the center of Stamford and is open every day, with hours ranging from Monday to Friday (09:00 – 16:30) and Saturday and Sunday (09:00 – 17:00), it is the perfect place for a relaxing break in your day.

Burghley House: An English Renaissance Treasure

It is located about 2 km from Stamford Burghley House, one of the largest and grandest 16th century houses and undoubtedly one of the things to do and see in Stamford. This stately home is a preeminent example of an Elizabethan “prodigy house,” a term used to describe spectacular residences built to demonstrate power and prestige. The interiors are very beautiful, a journey through history that your children will also enjoy (even if they will appreciate the outdoor playground more which we will see later).

Burghley House

History

Burghley House it was built for Sir William Cecil, later Baron Burghley, who was Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. Construction began in 1555 and finished in 1587, and has since been the residence of his descendants, the Earls and then the Marquesses of Exeter. Today, the house is managed by the Burghley House Preservation Trust, a charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of this important piece of English history.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Burghley House is its connection to history and culture. The house has hosted numerous historical events and has served as a location for several film and television productions. Its art collection includes both Renaissance and modern works, and the interiors reflect changes in taste and style through the centuries.

Interiors

The house is open to the public and offers a circuit of sumptuous and richly furnished state apartments, displaying priceless works of art and treasures. The park, designed by the famous landscape designer Capability Brown, adds further beauty and grandeur to the whole, with its hidden paths and panoramic views.

The gardens

Burghley Gardens are equally impressive, with the Garden of Surprises and Sculpture Garden offering a unique experience for visitors. The Garden of Surprises is a water garden full of Elizabethan tricks and surprises, while the Sculpture Garden presents contemporary works of art in a historical context.

Burghley House

Hide & Secrets

If you’re visiting Burghley House with kids, head to the Hide & Secretsan adventure playground located in Burghley Woods, designed to stimulate little ones’ imagination and exploration. With tree houses, giant slides, climbing walls, swinging walkways, tunnels and observation nestsoffers a multi-layered gaming experience that can keep kids busy for hours.

But it’s not just a place of wild fun; the park is also and above all an educational experience. Along the way to Hidden Towerschildren can participate in activities such asto building shelters and climbing logs, thus encouraging the development of motor skills and creativity. Additionally, the park features sensory areas, perfect for children of all ages, including those with special needs.

Practical advice

I recommend you bring a packed lunch if the day is nice as you can have a nice picnic on the lawns of the gardens. Or there are also two restaurants, with varied menus even if the prices are not exactly cheap.

  • Entry to the house is £20 if you buy tickets on site or £18 if you buy them online. For families of up to 5 people the total price is £48.
  • The parking lot Burghley House it’s free.
  • For more information on opening hours, special events and much more, go to official site.

Oakham: a medieval jewel

It is only 11 km by car from Stamford, Oakham it is a perfectly preserved medieval village, dominated by Oakham Castle, once a royal residence and now a museum and home to a public school. It was originally a much larger fortified home, complete with surrounding walls, an entrance gate and a drawbridge with iron chains. Today, what remains is the large hall, testimony to a glorious past and a history that has gone through centuries of political and social changes.

I still recommend you visit the Great Hall, built between 1180 and 1190 by Walkelin de Ferrers, lord of the manor of Oakham, and the beating heart of the castle. This hall is famous for its collection of giant horseshoes, donated by members of the nobility and royal chivalry as they passed through Oakham. This unique tradition has left an indelible mark on the castle’s history, creating a fascinating display that continues to grow with each passing year. Entrance is free.

It’s nice to walk through the narrow streets of the historic center and discover its hidden treasures, such as the Rutland Water Museum o il Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre.

Oakham

Rutland Water: unspoiled nature and outdoor activities

Among the things to do and see in Stamford, I also recommend a stop at Rutland Water, a vast artificial lake (the largest in Europe) surrounded by woods and green meadows. There are many things to do such as hiking or cycling, but you can also rent a boat or kayak and sail on its calm waters (when there is no wind).

My advice is to park at Rutland Water Normanton Car Park (see map below) and walk anti-clockwise towards Normanton Church, small church on the lake. If you feel energetic you can continue walking to the dam, more or less half an hour on foot. Beautiful, highly recommended.

Throughout the year, Rutland Water hosts numerous festivals and events, including sailing races, music festivals and local produce markets. To find out more go to Rutland Water official website.

Tasting of local specialties

The cuisine of this area of ​​England boasts numerous local specialties to try, such as Stiltonone of England’s most famous cheeses, and delicious fruit-based desserts.

A Oakham provate la Full English breakfast, a timeless classic, which is made up of crispy bacon, eggs prepared to taste (scrambled or fried), sausages, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, beans in sauce and, for the more daring, a few slices of black pudding, a sausage based on pig blood. There is also no shortage of toasted or fried bread and a good cup of black tea, essential elements to start the day with energy.

Despite being a national institution, many English people treat themselves to the Full English Breakfast mainly at weekends, when the hectic pace of the week leaves room for moments of relaxation and pleasure.

Advice for those arriving from Italy

  • The best time to visit Stamford, Oakham and Rutland Water is from May to Septemberwhen the climate is mild and sunny.
  • To reach this area from Italy, the nearest airport is East Midlands, about an hour away. Alternatively, you can choose London airport.
  • Once you arrive, the best way to get around is to rent a car, as mentioned at the beginning of the post, in order to have more freedom of movement and also be able to visit the surrounding areas.
  • Remember to bring an umbrella, as the weather in England can be unpredictable.
  • Don’t forget your passport.

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Read also: What to buy in London? – Souvenirs England

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