Once called Stoney Ford, the town of Stamford which lies in the south west corner of Lincolnshire, is situated just to the north of the Welland river. The stone types that make up Stamford stone can be divided into the following categories: Building stone, roofing stone, formal paving, road cobble and setts. Most of Stamford is built on jurassic Lincolnshire limestone as well as some mud stone and sand stone. Masonry for house building was historically hand dressed and coursed. The quality of dressing varied from a basic standard known as dressed rubble stone, up to a higher quality where stone masons would square the corners and flatten the beds in order to produce a brick like product. At the very high end, masons would flatten the faces in a process known as chisel dressing. Superior buildings including churches, banks and other formal buildings would be built from ashlar stone, this simply means formal stone sawn on six sides. Even the lower quality architecture would often use formal Quins as corner blocks to give some formal structure to their project. Other common formal features include door & window surrounds, stone mullion windows, internal stone fireplaces etc. Local Stamford stone would be delivered by oxe cart carrying 650kg, the equivalent of 6 modern day washing machines.
Quarries at Barnack produced block stone which varied from distinctive hard shelly ragstone to finer stones. Barnack stone was used in many of Stamford’s churches. The magnificent Burghley house was built from stone extracted from king’s Cliffe, Barnack and other locations. The build began in 1555 and was completed in 1587. Stamford itself was principally built from five local quarries situated both in the boundaries of the town itself and two in the nearby great casterton. The stone was described as fine grained ooidal freestones (free stone meaning it can be worked in any direction). These stones were used to build the damaged medieval churches following the war of the roses in 1461. Ketton stone was used sparingly, due to it’s excessive price. It had gained a reputation as a supreme carving stone and was sent far and wide to places such as Cambridge.
Following the Norman conquest in 1066, the Normans established a castle at Stamford, they also built 14 modified churches. The new style of architecture was known as romanesque, after the late roman period. Inevitably french stone found it’s way across the english channel and up the Welland and into the norman architecture.
Collyweston produced the finest natural roofing stone in the area. This type of rived (split) stone was used widely across the town. The downside is that it’s extremely heavy. For example, during the 18th century masons were rushed to Burghley house to remove windows and replace them with solid walls as the oak and collyweston stone roof were crushing the building. Collyweston roof slaters would be transported by ox cart.
Most roads were stoned up during the victorian times. The new surface of choice was the granite setts, otherwise known as Belgium blocks, granite is the hardest stone known to man, they never wore out and are 100% frost proof. It is highly likely that these were granite in origin from the mount sorrel area of Leicestershire. These would replace washed stone cobbles originating from the Boston fen. The rectangular paving slabbs would have come from Yorkshire and are of sand stone origin, these extremely hard stones consist of quartz, mica, feldspar clay and iron oxides. York pavings are hard wearing (second only to granite) and 100% frost proof Yorkshire stone would arrive via the north sea and along the river welland.
The stone used in new Stamford projects tend to come from a little further a field. The Goldholme stone, hooby lane quarry which is situated a few miles to the west of Clipsham has supplied some of the finest masonry in the town. Unlike the earlier transportation being limited to fractionally over half a tonne. Modern deliveries are by articulated lorry, with pay loads exceeding 20 tonnes. Furthermore, our onboard forklift transports the stone directly to the front door. Perhaps in 800 years time they will marvel over this.