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Stamford. Small town on the Lincolnshire border, at a strategic point where the Great North Road crosses the river Welland. It originated with a Danish fortress, flourished commercially, and in the 13th cent. hosted one of the great international trading fairs of England. It declined in the late Middle Ages, and the Cecils (who lived nearby at Burghley House) stifled its development until 1872 to retain control of the properties electing MPs: Lord Exeter forced the main railway line to go through Peterborough instead. The town remains a gem, full of 17th–19th-cent. stone houses, and ‘we may perhaps be grateful to the Cecils for the feudal obstinacy which kept their town from growing … There are too many Peterboroughs, and not enough Stamfords, in modern England’ ( W. G. Hoskins).
David M. Palliser
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