- Stamford -
The name of Daniel Lambert, the heaviest man England has ever known, lives on in Stamford. The local football team is nicknamed the Daniel and the popular Daniel Lambert pub stands near the town centre in St Leonard’s street – and if you want to get an impression of how a 52-stone man really is, then you can see a replica set of his clothes at the town museum.
It was mere chance that connected Lambert with Stamford. A native of Leicester, he came to see the Stamford races in 1809 and collapsed and died while staying at the horse and wagon Inn. His coffin was rolled on two axles and four wheels into a sloping grave in St Martins churchyard-though not before the window and part of the wall in his room had been removed to get the coffin out.
General Tom Thumb, the celebrated American midget, was as interesting as anyone to compare his size with that of Lambert. While visiting Stamford inn 1846 he dropped into London Inn on St John’s Street to view a suit of Lambert’s clothes, and he left a suit of his own so that future visitors might make a comparison.
But such freaks of nature are incidental to the fame of Stamford, dubbed ‘England’s most attractive town’ by John Betjeman. The novelist Sir Walter Scott spoke for many admirers when he described St Mary’s Hill as ‘the finest scene between London and Edinburgh’. Stamford is one of those rare towns of great age, harmony and beauty, at once well preserved-it was made Britain’s first conservation area in 1967- and full of life.
Scott was not the only literary figure to have had his imagination stirred by Stamford’s beauty: Anthony Trollope is widely thought to have taken his inspiration for The Warden, one of his ‘Barchester Chronicles’, from Browne’s Hospital, the 15th-Century almshouses which now house occasionally exhibitions as well as elderly residents in a sympathetic Victorian extension of 1870.
And if all that still isn’t enough, try a visit to one of Stamford’s five medieval churches, to its steam brewery museum or to its serene meadows, where the river Welland makes its idle way towards its outfall in the Wash.
One can only agree with the intrepid 17th-century traveller Celia Fiennes, who wrote that Stamford is ‘as fine a built town all of stone as may be seen’.