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Famous people associated with Stamford

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We bet you didn't know just how many interesting folk have had associations with the town of Stamford! 

From murderers to politicians, writers to musicians, we have them all! 

Enjoy your read!

***Sir Malcolm Sargent***

Music Composer and Conductor

Harold Malcolm Watts Sargent, world famous musician, composer and conductor, was born in 1895 in Kent while his mother was visiting family members. The family home was in Wharf Road, Stamford, 

the house bearing a ***blue plaque***.

A Stamford School Scholarship winner, his earliest interests were in amateur music events, greatly encouraged by his father. Malcolm was a talented pianist and organist and conducted at the Proms and the Royal Choral Society. He was a hard task master and was quite outspoken, alienating many British Orchestra members with his views. He died in 1967 at the age of 72 after a serious illness and is buried in Stamford Cemetery.

Colin Dexter

Author and Actor

September 29th, 1930, saw the birth, in Stamford, of novelist Colin Dexter, who went on to attend Stamford Boys School. Although he was a prolific writer, Colin is best known for his "Inspector Morse" books which were written from 1975 onwards. The stories were made into a drama series featuring many episodes which were, and still are, widely televised. Colin was also famous for his Hitchcockian appearance in each episode of "Inspector Morse" and in the spin-off series " Lewis".

John George Haigh

The Acid Bath Murderer

Commonly known by his grisly title, John George Haigh was born in Kings Road, Stamford on July 24th 1909, although the family moved to Yorkshire when Haigh was around 4 years old.

Haigh murdered a total of 6 people before forging their papers to collect large amounts of money. He had previously been imprisoned for fraud where it is said he learned about sulphuric acid as an agent for dissolving bodies, knowledge that he would use in his later crimes. The use of acid was his undoing as the chemical did not dissolve everything, and he was subsequently betrayed by the remnants of body parts including gallstones. He was hanged in 1949.

Cupid's Inspiration

Pop Group

Cupid's Inspiration were a famous pop music group at their height during the 1960s. The band was formed in Stamford and the original line-up of Stamford-residing members included: Terry Rice-Milton, James Laughton, Garfield Tonkin, George Wyndham and Roger Gray. Additional group members were present at this time.

Originally known as The Ends, the group renamed themselves and had two Top 40 hits in the singles chart in 1968: 

"Yesterday is Gone"(no.4) and "My world" (no.33).

The group began to part company in 1970 with individuals joining other music greats like King Crimson. Since the split Cupid's Inspiration has had a long line of band members, with the band still touring but under two different names.

***William Stukeley***

Physician and Antiquarian

William Stukeley was a doctor, archaeologist, antiquarian and author. He was born in Lincolnshire in 1687, residing in Stamford between 1729 and 1747 at No.9 Barn Hill which exhibits a ***blue plaque*** in his name. During this time he was vicar of All Saints Church. He had not previously added the clergy to his other professions but being a close friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury he was able to fast-track his theological training to take up the post!

As an archaeologist earlier in his life Stukeley had a passion for stone circles such as Stone Henge and Avebury, and a particular interest in Druidism. A prolific writer, he published several academic papers on a variety of subjects including his field work, and studies in his former medical career. In Stamford he became interested in the local architecture and designed and built in the town, including elaborate extensions to his own property and eccentric additions to his garden. He was described as being gregarious, cheerful and amiable, although eccentric and at times ridiculed for his views. He had a passion for animals and owned a cat called "Tit". 

He died in London in 1765.

**Daniel Lambert**

England's Largest Man

Daniel Lambert was not originally a Stamford man, hailing from Leicester where he was an animal breeder and keeper of Bridewell gaol. It was while he was staying at The Waggon and Horses Inn in 

High Street St. Martins, Stamford, in June 1809, he became ill and suddenly died. He was buried in St. Martin's churchyard, Stamford. 

So what lead to his untimely death at the age of 39, and why wasn't his body returned home to his native Leicester? 

Mr. Lambert was already famous for his unusually large size, later earning him the title of England's largest man. He weighed in at 

52 stones and 11 pounds at the time of his death. But Daniel was no ordinary obesity case. Not only did he refrain from eating and drinking excessively, he had led an active early life and, worrying  about his increasing size and risk to his health, continued to exercise regularly, often appearing fitter than his average middle-aged counterparts. The circumference of his calves was said to be in excess of 3 feet and his waist 9 feet. With his height of 5 feet 9 ins he must have been quite a sight to behold!  In fact, in order to make a living, he put himself up for exhibition and it was fashionable to visit him "at home" for a small payment, and to become his friend. This was the reason for his Stamford visit in that fateful year.

In 1809, transport would not have allowed for the 112 square feet of coffin to transport Daniel home to Leicester. It took 20 men to aid the wheeled coffin down the specially-prepared sloping approach to 

Mr. Lambert's grave. 

Daniel Lambert had special furniture and a carriage made to take his bulk, and artefacts can be seen at The George Hotel, Stamford, 

and in Leicester Museum.

Daniel Lambert is now immortalised in a 

**blue plaque** on the wall of the building in St. Martin's where he died.

Arnold Spencer-Leese

Politician and Veterinary Surgeon

This fascist British Politician lived and worked in Stamford after the First World War until his retirement in 1927. Leese published many works reflecting his racist and anti-semitic obsessions. He formed his own Imperial fascist league, influencing the British National Party of today. Having worked in India as a qualified Veterinary Surgeon, he became an expert on the camel, publishing articles on the conditions affecting the dromedary, and discovered a nematode of the eye which today bears his name.

Wilfrid Rene Wood

Engraver and Watercolourist

Wilfrid Rene Wood, engraver and watercolourist, lived in Barnack, near Stamford from 1937 until his death in 1976. He was a prolific painter of Stamford, sympathetically reproducing favourite town scenes in gentle colours and giving a feel for the age in which he painted. Wilfrid's work is still much-loved having been reproduced as prints, postcards and greetings cards over the decades. 

The Wilfrid Wood Gallery at Stamford Arts Centre exhibits local works by a variety of artists, and the Barnack village hall bears his name.

Harry Burton *Blue Plaque*

Photographer to the Egyptian Expedition and the tomb of King Tutankhamun

Harry was born in Burghley Lane, St.Martin's, Stamford in 1879 and later grew up in Church Lane. He was one of 11 children. He became a protege of Hobart Cust, heir to the Belton estate in Grantham, although how they met is unclear, Harry later acting as Cust's personal secretary. Whilst in Italy with his employer it is thought that Harry worked on his talent for photography and by 1914 had secured a position in Cairo working with the New York Metropolitan Egyptian Expedition. So when Howard Carter came to excavate the Valley of The Kings and took on Harry Burton as photographer he was well on the way to stardom! His images of Tutankhamun's tomb are what he is best remembered for. Harry died in Egypt aged 59 years.

***Nelson Ethelred Dawson ***

Arts and Crafts Artist

Nelson Dawson was born and raised in Victorian Stamford, attending Stamford Boy's School. He was a potter, painter, metal worker, and writer of the Arts and Crafts movement. His many talents in the art field allowed him to make some interesting and famous items including miniature garden tools (for Queen Victoria), metal grills, bath fittings, and mostly jewellery. 

The British Museum, V & A and National Maritime Museums hold collections of his work.

27, St. Mary's Street exhibits a ***blue plaque*** in his honour.

Arthur Kitson

Inventor, Monetary Theorist & Author

Arthur Kitson (1859-1937) established the Kitson Empire Lighting Company in Wharf Road, Stamford and is credited with inventing the Vaporised Oil Burner in 1901. The lamp had more than 6 times the luminosity of other oil lamps and went on to be improved by Trinity House, for use in lighthouses.

Kitson was the author of many books and pamphlets on monetary theory, greatly influencing his friend and fellow fascist Arnold Spencer-Leese (see above).

In the literature he is regularly confused with Captain Cook biographer, Arthur Octavius Kitson.

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Lord Burghley

Chief Adviser to Queen Elizabeth 1

William Cecil, later Lord Burghley (1520-1598), was chief adviser to Queen Elizabeth 1, Lord High Treasurer, Lord Privy Seal and twice Secretary of State. He built Burghley House in Stamford between 1555 and 1587, a leading example of fine Elizabethan architecture and subsequently the residence of his descendants, the Marquesses of Exeter. The house is built in the form of a capital "E" in honour of the Queen who never actually visited.

Lord Burghley's death in 1598 was sudden, following a collapse, and he is buried in an elaborate tomb with effigy within St. Martin's church.

Through the years, the existence of Burghley House has meant that many famous visitors would pass through its doors including Queen Victoria, members of the present Royal Family, and the various artists responsible for the creation of the house and gardens including Capability Brown, Antonio Verrio and Grinling Gibbons.

Burghley Park is home to the world famous Burghley Horse Trials, and has been the location of numerous TV and cinema films.


Many famous people have visited Stamford, albeit briefly, contributing to its rich history. Here are a few below!

Dick Turpin

Highwayman, Thief and Killer

Richard Turpin (?1705-1739) was a butcher, thief, poacher, torturer and murderer. Hailing from Essex, he used parts of the Great North Road between London and York as his hunting ground. He is said to have frequented The Ram Jam Inn, a (now disused) public house on the A1 outside of Stamford. There are numerous stories about how the Inn got its name, including a prank played by Turpin involving the landlord ramming his thumbs into holes in a damaged beer barrel to jam the flow of ale whilst Turpin escaped without paying his ale bill!

He was hanged in York for horse theft aged 33 years and it is only posthumously that Dick Turpin (in the saddle of Black Bess) has become the romantic Highwayman figure of books and films.

Macready, Kean and Kemble

Shakespearean Actors

The Stamford Theatre was built in 1768 and was used as such for more than 100 years seeing many famous actors tread its boards. William Charles Macready (1793-1873) made his first appearance in Covent Garden, adding numerous  Shakespearean roles to his repertoire. He acted in many famous English theatres as did Edmund Kean (1787-1833) also famous for his Shakespearean characters. Edmund's son Charles Kean (1811-1868) followed in his father's footsteps, often performing with his wife Ellen at the Stamford Theatre. 

Charles was mentor to the actress Ellen Terry (1847 -1928).

John Philip Kemble (1757-1823) brother of the famous Sarah Siddons, immortalised by Gainsborough, also achieved acting fame and visited the Stamford Theatre. He mainly undertook Shakespearean roles, working alongside his sister in Drury Lane and Covent Garden. The Irish actor, poet and playwright, James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862) also performed in Stamford. Sheridan Knowles was also a qualified medical doctor and Baptist preacher.

There is an original 1920s plaque on this building outlining the above.


Tribal Queen

Boudicca (or Boadicea) was Queen of the British Iceni tribe of East Anglia, c. AD 60 or 61. When her reigning husband died she led an army in a fruitless attempt to defeat the occupying forces of the Roman Empire and was known to cross the River Welland at Stamford hotly pursued by the Ninth Roman Legion. She is said to have died from her wounds although there are no details of the cause of her demise. A stone pillar and plaque now commemorate the crossing which is in the third meadow close to where the A1 road now crosses.

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Eleanor of Castile

English Queen

Wife of King Edward 1, Queen Eleanor (of Castile) (1241-1290) died in Harby, Lincolnshire, her body being carried on foot to Westminster for burial. Along the journey, which included passing through Stamford, her devoted husband had 12 decorative stone crosses erected, one at each of the overnight resting places of Eleanor's coffin. Three of these remain mostly intact: Waltham in Hertfordshire, and Hardingstone and Geddington in Northamptonshire. Only a small fragment of the Stamford cross remains and was excavated by William Stukeley (see above). The site of the cross was in Sheepmarket and the fragment can be viewed in Stamford library. The Sheepmarket area now has a modern statue in commemoration. 

Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent

Wife of The Black Prince

Joan of Kent (1328-1385), mother of King Richard 11 (2nd) of England, is buried in Stamford. Edward the Black Prince and father to Richard 11 (2nd) was Joan's third marriage alliance. She had 5 children with her late first husband Thomas Holland and through this line her descendants included Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother to King Henry 7th), Elizabeth of York and Catherine Parr. 

Upon her death, she was buried beside her first husband at her own request at Greyfriars, the present hospital site in Ryhall road, although no grave marking exists.

King Charles 1

King of England

King Charles the First, escaping capture by the Parliamentarian New Model Army and seeking refuge with the Scottish army, travelled for 7 days through enemy territory from Oxford to reach his protectors in Southwell, near Newark. He spent the night of the 3rd May 1646 in Stamford, although there is some confusion as to the exact building in which he stayed. The king spent his last night as a free man in Stamford, being betrayed later by the very army recommended to protect him.

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Lord Peter Wimsey

Fictional Sleuth

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey is a fictional sleuth and peer of the realm in the books of Dorothy L. Sayers. Acting as a mouthpiece for Dorothy who undoubtedly visited the town of Stamford, Lord Peter, whose faithful butler and confidante, Bunter, expresses an inclination to visit Stamford "for a variety of reasons", "purred away through the picturesque streets of Stamford to the cottage by the bridge". He added that "(he) had always thought Stamford a beautiful town and now, with its grey stone houses and oriel windows bathed in the afternoon sunshine, it seemed to him the loveliest jewel in the English crown". 

"Have His Carcase", Chapter 8.

Miscellaneous visitors

Celia Fiennes (traveller and diarist), Sir Walter Scott (Scottish novelist), Sir John Betjeman (poet and broadcaster), 

Lady Alexandra Wedgwood (architectural historian), plus a host of modern day actors and film producers, writers and poets!