From the Chairman
Welcome to our Spring 2021, keenly anticipated ‘emergence Newsletter’ emergence from the cold dull days of winter, and emergence from ‘Covid-19 custody’. I hope you’ve all been keeping well and, for those of you eligible, you have been successfully and painlessly ‘jabbed’. Today the overall Covid-19 situation appears much more positive with the Government ‘Roadmap’ out of the restraints upon us notionally ceasing on 21 June 2021. We really can see light at the end of the tunnel now and I trust that your membership of the Civic Society will be adding a few lumens to that advancing light in the coming months.
Looking forward we continue to identify projects that conserve and enhance our town. As we emerge from the Covid-19 economic disaster, we will need to quickly restore the Visitor Economy, essential for Stamford’s viability, and we will do all we can to further Stamford’s appeal. In this respect the ‘settings’ of our imposing buildings and attention to detail in general are key aspects. We have already initiated, together with the Town Council, a continuing maintenance programme for all of the town’s plaques and information boards and we have extended support for ‘Stamford in Bloom’.
We were delighted to learn recently that LCC (Highways) have decided to reconstruct the block paving surface in Red Lion Square which we feel provides a much more appropriate ‘classic’ setting for the surrounding buildings of high architectural and historical merit.
This decision is particularly pleasing after all the work our Urban Group put in to pulling together a very comprehensive, well researched and compelling case to retain the fitting block paved setting.
In addition to the projects mentioned in the Chairman’s remarks, our Urban Group have continued to progress proposals for lighting St John’s Church and for optimising the lighting of St. Mary’s. The advancement of proposals for the general enhancement of the Sheepmarket area have also been maintained against the constraints of a reduced budget and the Group continues to pressurise the Local Government Highways Department for response to our ‘Paving Survey’ containing photographic evidence of the unacceptable state of all the Town’s streets and pavements.
28 Jan 2021
“How Stamford Became the First Conservation Town”
Following the forced cancellation of three quarters of our 2020 social events programme as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and, bearing in mind the current situation, the Committee con cluded that a move to ‘Virtual’ talks in the medium term would be a way to restore momentum for 2021. We successfully launched this strategy on the evening of Thursday 28th. January where we saw a substantial number of Members and guests ‘login’ to hear our good friend Jeremy Gibbs give us a very professionally presented talk reminding us “How Stamford Became the First Conservation Town”.
With the aid of slides of maps, sketches and pertinent comments contained within reports compiled by Local Planning Officer, Dr. Fennell in the early 1960s, Jeremy provided an entertaining and lucid commentary on Dr. Fennell’s inspired approach to the assessment of the value of the built heritage of the Town. He Dr Fennell showed how the appeal of our market town was not just the individual buildings themselves but in the settings, street scenes, road layout, natural features and historical groupings. In the late 1960’s, when the National Government began to show an interest in town conservation (after some brutal redevelopment of a number characterful towns), Dr. Fennell’s research and reports were ‘oven ready’ for submission and Stamford was awarded first ‘Conservation Town’ status in 1967.
A lively discussion, mainly relating to future Government proposals to ease town planning restrictions, followed the talk and the importance of the recently drafted ‘Stamford Neighbourhood Plan’ was recognised.
Overall our first Virtual Event was very well received and hearty thanks were expressed to Jeremy, not only for his superb presentation but alongside, his ‘orchestration’ of all the technical IT aspects of the meeting
25 February 2021
“A Brief History of the Men of the Stones”
Although we were unable to run our events programme last year, the Society was still functioning and our long-time good friend and supporter, committee member David Lankester was busying himself setting up the absorption of the ‘Men of the Stones’ society into our organisation. David, then was the appropriate person to tell us something about the history of our new ‘acquisition’.
David told us that ‘The Men of the Stones’ was founded in 1947, by Archie Ireson and Edmund Easedaile (Esdaile). It had national aspirations and it had ten stated aims, but above all, it aimed “to encourage the practice and appreciation of the Arts and Crafts of Architecture, including Stone Masonry, Sculpture /Carving Painting, Gilding, Wrought Iron, and Cast Lead Work”. Under Arch Ireson and Edmund Easedaile there was a very high profile Top Table and a long and impressive list of Business Members coming from all over the country. The Society gained an enviable reputation with its frequent unique trips to historic houses, its high quality lectures and its comprehensive Year Book and in 1999, when David was a ‘Stones’ committee member, the society enjoyed the support of 360 ‘Ordinary’ members and 90 ‘Trade’ members.
David expressed his views on why the society collapsed at such a rate - an uninspiring name, the age of the membership and the lack of focus on Stamford itself leaving space for other organizations such as Stamford Civic Society to establish themselves as the guardians of local conservation. In the end the ‘Stones’ fell between two stools – it didn’t really have the clout to play in any National league and didn’t show enough interest in its local base.
David gave us an interesting insight into the larger than life characters who formed the heart of the ‘Stones’ over some 70 years and his lucid, light presentation style, aided by a split screen slide show, made for an exceptionally enjoyable talk.
After expressing appreciation for David’s talk, the Chairman invited Members to contact the Secretary if they wished to obtain a free copy of a Society publication entitled “The Stones of Stamford Revisited” by Rachel Morley – it reviews the different stone types used in Stamford from various local quarries and describes with many excellent pictures the mechanism of their deterioration.
SKDC Leader Kelham Cooke, and
Burghley Estates CEO David Pennell
25 March 2021
“Stamford – The Shape of Things to Come”
After a year of ‘hibernation’ we decided to devote the first quarter of 2021 to reset and re-launch our monthly events programme with talks reminding us of the origins of our Society; the history of the ‘Men of the Stones’ society that we had recently taken under our wing; and a catch-up on the status of future housing and commercial developments planned for the town. Our April talk returns to our more general topics with a talk on April 29th. by Stuart Orme on “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Palace at Collyweston”.
Stamford Conservation Area Planning Matters
During the first quarter of 2021 our Planning Sub-group have reviewed and commented on some 14 Applications. Most of the proposed changes were judged to have minimal impact from a conservation point of view but we did make negative comments on the proposal to turn a very important historic building into a pizzeria in the Sheep Market and we also put forward some concerns on the visual aspects of the proposed St. Martins Park major development. In both cases we offered our expertise with a view to achieving better outcomes.
Membership and Contacting Us