- Grantham -
The chances are that you’ve heard of Grantham for one of three reasons: (1) Margaret Thatcher was born here, (2) the young Isaac Newton went to school here and observed his falling apple at nearby Woolsthorpe, and (3) Grantham and was once dubbed the most boring place in Britain by a particularly ungenerous radio programme.
Natives of this south Lincolnshire town, which grew prosperous first as a staging post on the Great North Road and later as a centre for heavy industry, argued at the time that the boring tag was never deserved. Although Grantham suffered badly at the hands of short – sighted 1960’s town planners, who tore the heart out of much of the handsome Georgian town, the old town hall in St Peters Hill was one of the happy survivors. An elegant building of brick and stone built by William Watkins in the late 1860’s, it was converted by the district council into the Guildhall Arts centre and Theatre in 1991 (Inset).
Now that the Premier Restaurant (Baroness Thatchers childhood home) is no longer in business, Grantham’s most visited landmark must be St Wulfram’s church, well known for it’s soaring, slender spire – at 272 feet not quite as tall as St James’s in Louth or St Botolph’s in Boston, but a fine sight nevertheless. In the shadow of this ancient church are the nooks and crannies, which show Grantham as it used to be: Vine Street, for example, with some of its handsome brick houses dating back to the 18th century.
Back in the High Street are the vestiges of Grantham’s glorious coaching past. One is the George Hotel, praised by Dickens in Nicholas Nickelby but now a shopping centre. The other is the famous and much older Angel and Royal Hotel, with its ornate 15th –century façade – one of the grandest English pre-Reformation inns. It was here in 1483 that Richard III signed the death warrant of the Duke of Buckingham, and here in 1633 that Charles I stayed as a guest. Today, by contrast, travellers to and from London shoot past on the A1 or on the east coast intercity main line; and to them Grantham is no more than a name on a signboard.