During the Middle Ages domestic buildings of stone, on surviving evidence, were built in coursed rubble.
Some houses were further elaborated with buttresses and one, 17 St. George's Square (297), of very high
quality, had both a string-course and an eaves cornice. The crocketed gable coping now reset at 3 Broad
Street (128) must also have come from a high-quality building, but most buildings, for example 6 Barn
Hill (95), were less elaborate.
Surviving timber-framed houses appear to have exploited the decorative effect of vertical stripes given
by close-studding (Plate 79). The timber-framed range of 11–12 St. Mary's Street (349) had traceried heads
to the panels between the studs. Occasionally gables had raking struts instead of vertical studs, a fashion
which was probably confined to the late 15th and 16th centuries. The frame of 6–7 Red Lion Square (280)
is unique in Stamford, and was probably intended as a bold decorative extravaganza. The external rendering of timber-frame probably began in the second half of the 17th century. Only two examples of decorative pargetting are known in Stamford, the crest of Cecil on 25 High Street St. Martins (216) and a windmill dated 1690, formerly at 51 High Street (189). Generally surfaces are pecked overall, scoring to imitate
ashlar being surprisingly rare.
During the 17th century stone superseded timber-frame for all new buildings. Coursed rubble was still
the common building material although ashlar slabs were used for facing an increasing number of the
better houses. Windows, when mullioned, were almost always ovolo-moulded, and were protected by a
weathered label or string. Doorways in the early years of this century had depressed four-centred heads
with sunk spandrels; square-headed openings with mouldings which were stopped as much as 2 ft. above
floor level came into use about the middle of the century.
Several houses were built with a cross wing, the gable giving interest and an asymmetrical liveliness to
the street elevation. In about the third quarter of the 17th century the commonest form of external display
was to build a two-storey gabled bay window. Frequently this was added to the main range of a cross-wing
house, as at 12 St. Paul's Street (375), partly balancing the cross-wing gable, and giving the house a busier
outline. The gables have finials and kneelers, and are often decorated with a date-slab. Bay windows were
usually faced in ashlar (Plates 82, 83).
The final quarter of the 17th century saw the introduction of new ideas into Stamford's architecture.
The change is heralded by 19 St. George's Square (299), built in 1674 in the most up-to-date style available
to local builders (Plate 88). Mullion-and-transom windows of vertical proportions in a moulded surround
mark a radical break with the past. Here and in several other buildings the surround consists of a pair of
symmetrically moulded ribs dropping from a platband and terminating on a moulded sill. The last manifestation of this concept is seen at 35 High Street St. Martins (220) where the ribs have, by the second
quarter of the 18th century, become plain architraves. More conventional windows of the late 17th century
may be seen at 1 Ironmonger Street (240) and 32 Broad Street (142). In a few buildings, notably 14–17 High
Street (178, 179), bolection ribs are extended over the whole building, forming a complete web incorporating and linking all elements of the elevation. Usually platbands have a small moulding on the lower edge.
Ashlar is essential to this style, and the walls generally have a plinth with moulded top. Emphasized quoins
occur for perhaps the first time, usually chamfered but in two cases with recessed centres. The eaves overhang on boldly-bracketed wooden cornices.
The late 17th-century style developed very gradually into that of the early 18th century. Plinths remained moulded, and round-nosed window sills finally gave way around 1720–5 to plain-sectioned sills
with a cyma or other moulding below. Window surrounds are usually framed with a cyma moulding, a
bold cavetto being less common. Unmoulded projecting window-surrounds, mostly with three keystones,
only became common after about 1740, although they were in use from at least 1704. Chimney stacks on
the more lavish houses were boldly rusticated, as at 33 High Street St. Martins (218). Ovolo-moulded
mullioned windows continued to be used in basements of even the best houses.
By the end of the second quarter of the century these architectural details had become fused to form a
mature classical style which prevailed until about 1760, the Theatre (60) being the last, belated, expression.
The mouldings used were simple and confined to cavettos, ovolos and cymas; significantly the Order most
commonly used was the Tuscan. An exuberant version of the style appeared between about 1730 and 1740.
Bold and assertive, its chief characteristic is the exaggerated use of keystones, and this, sometimes coupled
with rustication, produces a rich but somewhat old fashioned effect (Plates 101–103). This individuality
might suggest the work of one designer. The style is best illustrated in a group of five houses (100, 133,
182, 220, 237). Towards the middle of the century several new elements appear, most of which are found in
Stamford only at this period. These include pediments, Venetian windows, pedimented windows, and
round-headed windows on the street fronts of houses. Keystones were broad and often multiple, and at
about the same time architraves eared top and bottom were introduced. The finest of these buildings are
marked by a competence in design and a satisfactory balance of composition.
The second half of the 18th century in Stamford is by contrast a period of sober and relatively unambitious building. Unmoulded projecting window surrounds are found mainly between c. 1740 and
1770, and the ashlar surface of the wall is usually broken only by platbands or continuous sills. After about
1760 buildings were in an even more severe style. Only platbands or continuous sills are proud of the surface, all other dressings being flush. This is sometimes augmented by a modest dentil cornice. The interplay
of texture between the neat rubble of the walls and the deliberately arranged freestone dressings provides
the only other decoration (Plate 116), but some houses lack even this, being of ashlar throughout. Three
buildings put up by John Hames are in this austere style (147, 239, 342), and several others were designed
by W. Legg after 1778.
Several threads can be traced through the fabric of early 19th-century architecture. The century began
with generally more economical and severe versions of late 18th-century classical architecture. The Stamford Hotel (352) is a metropolitan building in design, and has no place in the development of architecture
in the town (Plate 152). Rutland Terrace (288) is essentially in the tradition of the great 18th-century
squares of London and Bath, and its decoration is in the Grecian style of the time. In 1842–3 Bryan Browning introduced new stylistic ideas in his Institution (59) and refronting of Barn Hill House (96); more
Italianate forms were at the same time appearing in Scotgate in Rock Terrace (426) and Rock House (427).
Charles Richardson seems to have worked in a plainer and more severe style; he designed 5, 7, 8 Broad
Street (129) and therefore perhaps 14 and 15 Barn Hill (101, 102) which are very similar (Plates 156–159).
The Gothic Revival hardly affected Stamford. Hopkin's Hospital of c. 1770 (51) is the earliest clumsy
essay in the style. The Bath House of 1823 (110) and 21 St. Mary's Street (357), soon after 1827, are little
better informed. The local architect Thomas Pierce designed Snowden's Hospital in 1822, Basevi designed
two almshouses and Gandy a hospital (50, 53 and 62) in a fairly accurate Tudor style characteristic of the
period before the Camden Society's influence. Gothic House (176) is the only domestic building seriously
in the style, and is surprisingly early, being completed in 1849. The Jacobean style was more frequently
imitated, perhaps because of the number of buildings in the town already displaying 17th-century fronts.
Bryan Browning, charged with replacing a bay-windowed house of 1666, designed one on identical lines
(380); nos. 4–5 Red Lion Square (279) and the buildings flanking the Bridge (333, 450) are large-scale
projects in the style. Some houses, such as 54 and 55 High Street St. Martins, appear to have been largely
rebuilt as faithful reproductions of their 17th-century predecessors (Plates 160–163).
Few domestic windows survive from before the 17th century. Tympana from two round-headed two-light
windows of the 12th and early 13th centuries are no longer in situ (232, 362; Plate 62). A 13th-century
traceried window from 17 St. George's Square (297) is now reset in St. Mary's church vestry (Plate 62).
A wooden traceried 15th-century window, mutilated, remains at 6–7 Red Lion Square (280; Plate 76).
Both the window in the rear range of 6 Barn Hill (95) and the mullioned-and-transomed window of Digby
House (255) have hollow mouldings and date from the 16th century. The hood mould, seen at Digby
House, continued in use until the middle of the next century. Early 17th-century windows have ovolo-moulded mullions, the central mullion sometimes being larger in section better to support the masonry
above. Such windows were used as late as the beginning of the 18th century to light basements, as at 33
High Street St. Martins (218) and Brazenose House (383). Ovolo-moulded arrises are also found occasionally
in the early 18th century, for instance at 28–29 High Street (185).
Architraves (Figs. 10, 11)
Raised moulded surrounds first appear in the late 17th century, associated with mullion-and-transom
windows. The internal frames seem to have been mainly of wood rather than stone, as at 19 St. George's
Square (299). The earliest surviving windows with architraves, at 32 Broad Street and 12 St. Paul's Street
(142, 375), are approximately square, with a stone mullion, and the architrave has a cyma moulding that
was to continue to be the commonest form until this type of window-surround went out of use in the
late 18th century. The architraves of 20 High Street (181) are interesting examples of conservative design,
though the mouldings are of an early 19th-century type (cf. Fig. 175). Windows in smaller buildings and
subsidiary positions had wooden frames in unornamented openings, as at 17 Barn Hill (104).
Cavetto-moulded architraves occur in the late 17th century at King's Mill (65) on a door, and in 1725
at the George Hotel (239). Later, in the second quarter of the 18th century, all but two of the houses with
rusticated doors and windows have this architrave moulding, as at 13 Barn Hill and 14 Broad Street (100,
133). The exceptions are (220) and (237). Between about 1730 and 1760, windows in many high-quality
houses have eared architraves; the unusual example at 25–26 High Street (184, Plate 99) may be compared
with Plate 45 of James Gibbs' Rules for Drawing (1732). Unmoulded architraves exist from the earliest
years of the 18th century, 33 Broad Street (144) being dated 1704, but they are most common from
c. 1740 to c. 1770, none being found after that date. Many of the early examples have a bead cut on the
inner arris, as at 68 High Street St. Martins (238), whereas others have a chamfer, as at 18 St. George's
Square (298). Frequently houses have moulded architraves around first-floor windows and plain ones on
the ground floor. Moulded bands hung from string-courses to form a window architrave are first found in
1674 at 19 St. George's Square (299) and later at 33 High Street St. Martins (218). At 14–17 High Street
(178, 179) this feature was elaborated to form a reticulation covering the entire elevation (Plate 92). In the
early 18th century these bands were generally unmoulded, as at Barn Hill House and the rear wing of 35
High Street St. Martins (96, 220).
Fig. 10 Window Surrounds arranged
chronologically with building dates indicated where known.
a.(299) 19 St. George's Square; b.(72) 3 All Saints' Place; c.(218) 33 High Street St. Martins;
d.(383) Brazenose House; e.(239) George Hotel; f.(246) 9–10 Ironmonger Street;
g.(182) 21 High Street; h.(133) Former Stag and Pheasant Inn; i.(229) 47–50 High Street St. Martins.
arranged chronologically with building dates indicated where known.
j.(237) 66–67 High Street St. Martins; k.(100) 13 Barn Hill; l.(184) 25–26 High Street;
m.(60) Theatre; n.(60) Theatre; o.(188) 41 High Street;
p.(337) 11–12 St. Mary's Hill; q.(361) 27 St. Mary's Street; r.(98) 10 Barn Hill.
Fig. 11 Profiles of Window and Door Architraves.
a.(299) 19 St. George's Square, 1674; b.(185) 28–29 High Street, early 18th-century; c.(218) 33 High
Street St. Martins, first quarter 18th century; d.(238) 69 High Street St. Martins, c. 1700; e.(298)
18 St. George's Square, early 18th-century; f.(383) Brazenose House, 1723; g.(239) George Hotel,
1725; h.(220) 35 High Street St. Martins (door), c. 1730–40; i.(136) 19 Broad Street, early
18th-century; j.(385) 31 St. Paul's Street, c. 1747; k.(301) 21 St. George's Square, c. 1768;
l.(221) 36 High Street St. Martins (door), c. 1770.
In 1700 masons priced architraves according to their width; a foot length cost a penny for each inch
of width (Wing, 267). Contemporary manuals recommend that the architrave should be one-sixth of the
width of the window-opening (Salmon, Palladio Londiniensis (1734), 128; B. Langley, Treasury of Designs
(1745), 45). This relationship, though found in most buildings in Stamford, was not universally adhered to.
In better-quality buildings, windows are generally between 3¼ and 3¾ ft. wide, and architraves often appear
to have been cut to a standard width of 6 or 7 ins., thereby giving an approximately 'correct' relationship
in most windows. At 14 Broad Street and 35 High Street St. Martins (133, 220) the architraves are 7 ins.
wide and the windows considerably narrower than is usual in Stamford.
Fig. 12 Profiles of Window Sills.
a.(299) 19 St. George's Square, 1674; b.(72) 3 All Saints' Place, first quarter 18th century; c.(218)
33 High Street St. Martins, first quarter 18th century; d.(383) Brazenose House, 1723; e.(239) George
Hotel, 1725; f.(100) 13 Barn Hill, 1740; g.(341) 2 St. Mary's Place, second quarter 18th century;
h.(385) 31 St. Paul's Street, c. 1747; i.(57) Town Hall, 1776–79; j.(60) Theatre, 1766; k.(301) 21 St.
George's Square, c. 1768; l.(358) 23 St. Mary's Street, mid 18th-century.
Sills (Fig. 12)
During the early 17th century mullion-and-transom windows had weathered sills. Projecting sills first
appeared on windows with architraves in the last quarter of the century. These sills are moulded and have
a rounded nosing at the top as at 12 St. Paul's Street, 32 Broad Street and 19 St. George's Square (375,
142, 299); they continued in use into the early 18th century at 3 All Saints' Place, 33 High Street St. Martins
and Brazenose House (72, 218, 383). In the early 18th century a plainer-sectioned sill was introduced, with
a square top and a single moulding below; the earliest example is the George Hotel of 1725 (239). During
the second quarter of the century the upper, square, part became gradually heavier at the expense of the
moulding, a progression seen at 13 Barn Hill of 1740 (100), 23 St. Mary's Street of a few years later (358)
and the Theatre of 1766 (60). Plain square-sectioned sills appeared about 1730 and became universal in the
later 18th century. The earliest of these sills are continued across the elevation as platbands, and such continuous sills remained in use until the early 19th century, few being found after 1820. Sometimes plain sills
were relieved by a small moulding such as the hollow chamfer used at the Town Hall in 1776 (57). The
subtly-moulded sills of 2 St. Mary's Place (341) are exceptional.
Keystones (Fig. 10)
Although keystones are significant elements in the design of the windows of 19 St. George's Square (299)
they were not generally used until the early 18th century. Usually a single or triple keystone is used, only
occasionally decorated as at Brazenose House (383), 33 High Street St. Martins (218) and 57 High Street
(193), all of the early 18th century. Between about 1730 and 1750 large and widely-splayed keystones were
fashionable, sometimes with as many as five to a window. The windows of 66–67 High Street St. Martins
(237) have rusticated heads that compare with that on Plate 29 of Langley's Treasury of Designs (1745); the
only other examples of this form date from the end of the 18th century (98, 239, 361). Several geometrical
constructions were used in the design of keystones (Fig. 10). Batty Langley's precept that their base should
be one-fifth or one-seventh of the width of the opening seems to have been followed by few Stamford
masons or designers (Langley, Treasury of Designs, Plate 46) though 21 High Street and 13 Barn Hill (182,
100) conform to this rule. Their sides almost invariably radiate from a common point whose distance below
the top of the window is usually related to the width of the opening. In the second and third quarters of
the 18th century most keystones radiate from a point half-a-width from the top of the window, a few from
one width, and several from the centre of the opening. The tops of the keystones on the more elaborate
buildings are often defined by the arc of a circle sometimes sharing the same centre as the keystones, and
whose radius is the width of the opening. This is seen for instance at 14 Broad Street and 21 High Street
(133, 182) where the construction is similar, and 13 Barn Hill (100) where the radius of the circle is eight
times the width of the architrave. At 47–50 High Street St. Martins (229) the radius of the defining circle is
half the width of the opening, and is therefore centred on the top of the opening itself. This same construction can also be seen in the doorcases of 14 Broad Street (133) and 35 High Street St. Martins (220).
Very few windows have pediments. No. 13 Barn Hill and the N. gable of 41 High Street (100, 188)
are the only 18th-century examples, and there is a small pediment to the stair window of Austin House (85).
No. 9–10 Ironmonger Street (246) has a hood of crude design above the windows. Roundheaded windows
were commonly used to light stairs from the early 18th century, Brazenose House (383) having the first
dated example of 1723. They were rarely used on the fronts of buildings, exceptions being the Theatre (60),
20 High Street St. Martins (210) and the notable ground floor of 2 St. Mary's Place (341). Segmentalheaded windows were rarely made in the 18th century, 1 St. George's Square (291) being the earliest; at
Vale House (250) they are associated with a tall round-headed recess. Venetian windows are also rare in
Stamford; one survives at 26 St. Mary's Street (360; Plate 104) resembling Portwood's unexecuted design
for 9 Barn Hill (97) (Fig. 181); there is a late one at Barn Hill chapel (37), and a third probably existed at 8
High Street (174) where there is also the only example of a lunette window (Plate 110). Oval or oeil-deboeuf windows are almost unknown; one remains at 51 High Street St. Martins (230). Console brackets
were only rarely placed below windows, the few buildings having this feature dating mainly from the
middle of the 18th century (26 St. Mary's Street (360); Theatre (60)).
In the early 19th century the window sills of several houses were lowered to conform to contemporary
fashion. Such elongated windows exist at 9 Broad Street (130), Vale House (250), and 8 High Street (174);
more damaging to the appearance of the house are the lowered sills of 22 St. Mary's Street (357).
Doorways and doors
Doorways with depressed four-centred heads and moulded jambs gave way towards the end of the 17th
century to rectangular openings with externally-applied moulded architraves. At 12 St. Paul's Street (375)
the architrave has a bolection moulding. During the 18th century the moulding of the door surround
commonly matched the windows of the same building, differing only in being wider; 31 St. Paul's Street
(385) is a prominent example. Shaped hoods were introduced at 19 St. George's Square (299), in 1674,
and that at 12 Barn Hill (99; Plate 124) is a notable example of c. 1700. Only one shell canopy survives (224)
although a second was recently removed from the rear wing of (220). Pedimented hoods were introduced
in the second quarter of the 18th century; the earliest is at the entrance to the Assembly Rooms (58;
Fig. 55) and other examples include 23 St. Mary's Street (358; Fig. 179) and 20 St. George's Square (300;
Fig. 155). Two pedimented hoods (72, 357) are almost identical, and a third (220) differs mainly in having
more elaborate mouldings and keystones (Figs. 65, 118, 177). Later pedimented doorcases and porches, after
c. 1760, resemble national styles. Frequently a semicircular fanlight intrudes into the pediment, as at the
Theatre (60; Fig. 56) and 25 St. Mary's Street (359; Fig. 182), both of 1766, and 20 High Street St. Martins
(210; Plate 124). That at 21 St. George's Square (301) is of cast iron. Porches were erected outside a few
houses, notably at Barn Hill House (96), 9 Barn Hill (97; Plate 124), 30 High Street St. Martins (217) and
Vale House (250).
Among surviving doors is a mid 18th-century group with decorative panels resembling those illustrated
on Plate 23 of Salmon's Palladio Londiniensis (1734); it includes 66–67 High Street St. Martins (237; Plate
102) and 26 St. Mary's Street (360; Plate 109).
Fig. 13 Profiles of Plinths.
a.(299) 19 St. George's Square, 1674; b.(218) 33 High Street St. Martins, first quarter 18th century;
c.(72) 3 All Saints' Place, first quarter 18th century; d.(383) Brazenose House, 1723; e.(298) 18 St.
George's Square, early 18th-century; f.(58) Assembly Rooms, 1727; g.(134) 15 Broad Street, early
18th-century; h.(352) rear wing of Stamford Hotel, early 18th-century; i.(300) 20 St. George's
Square, early 18th-century; j.(237) 66–67 High Street St. Martins, c. 1730–40; k.(358) 23 St. Mary's
Street, mid 18th-century; l.(357) 21 St. Mary's Street, c. 1827.
Plinths (Fig. 13)
Early 17th-century domestic buildings of stone generally have plain chamfered plinths which continued
in use into the early 18th century, as at the George Hotel (239) of 1725. In the early 18th century a wave
moulding becomes more usual, though erosion often makes the profile uncertain (Brazenose House (383)
of 1723, Assembly Room (58) of 1727, 17 St. George's Square (297) and 15 Broad Street (134)). Although
unweathered plinths now come into use, many of the more ambitious 18th-century buildings have
elaborately moulded plinths. No. 3 All Saints' Place (72) has a plinth with weathering of almost medieval
profile. A heavy roll moulding is the most usual, sometimes combined with a wave as at 33 High Street
St. Martins (218). The wave may be elaborate as at the former Black Bull (352); this type of moulding
persisted into the early 19th century at 21 St. Mary's Street (357). Cavetto mouldings are found at 66–67
High Street St. Martins (237) and are the mark of an exceptional building.
Quoins (Plate 121)
In larger medieval buildings with rubble walls, freestone quoins were used, set flush with the wall-face.
In smaller buildings (e.g. (61)) the angles were worked in rubble without formal quoins, a technique which
persisted to the 19th century. A similar lack of emphasis on quoins is found in the late 18th and early 19th
centuries when freestone quoins were laid flush, and are only distinguished from the wall by the difference
in texture. During the first half of the 18th century in particular, many of the higher quality buildings in
Stamford had rusticated quoins, although on a number of impressive houses the quoins are not emphasized,
the ashlar walls usually merging with those of their neighbours, as at 21–22 and 23–24 St. Mary's Street
(357, 358) and 20–21 St. George's Square (300, 301).
The basic form of rusticated quoin comprised alternate header and stretcher blocks with chamfered
margins, and remained in use longer than any other, from 1674 at 19 St. George's Square (299) to 1771 at
36 High Street St. Martins (221). About eleven examples survive from before 1800 (57, 60, 96, 126, 139,
194, 227, 242, 306). In addition there is an early variation found on two buildings, 13 All Saints' Street and
1 Ironmonger Street (78, 240), where the centre of each quoin is sunken; this technique was probably
confined to the late 17th century.
Two buildings have header and stretcher quoins with unchamfered margins and square channels
between the stones. At 13 Barn Hill, of 1740, this is formed by cutting a rebate on top and bottom of the
smaller blocks only, whereas at 33 High Street St. Martins a rebate is cut from the upper face of each block
(100, 218). Only three other houses have similar unchamfered quoins, but the blocks are unchannelled and
date from the middle of the 18th century (132, 167, 381). Seven buildings have alternately large and small
unchamfered quoins which are set so that the larger blocks project further than the smaller ones. The earliest
example is perhaps 9–10 Ironmonger Street (246), and the style persisted during the 1730s and 1740s (136,
184, 188, 220, 237, 389).
A similar date-range may be suggested for one of the most common forms of rusticated quoins in
which blocks are set at intervals, proud of the wall-face; the margins are unchamfered. Twelve houses share
this bold form of rustication which does not appear to have been used after the middle of the 18th century
(146, 150, 173, 180, 186, 191, 197, 200, 223, 284, 298, 305). Equal-sized projecting quoins are found at 11–12
St. Mary's Street (349) of c. 1748; at 2 St. Mary's Place (341) the quoins form a rusticated pilaster. Finally
mention should be made of the rustication at 10 Barn Hill (98) of c. 1804, where variations in the projection
of the quoins gives a complex interplay of light and shade.
Superimposed and giant orders (Fig. 14)
Following 17th-century practice, three early or mid 18th-century buildings in Stamford have superimposed orders. No. 33 High Street St. Martins (218) has Tuscan pilasters above Ionic (Plate 113) and is
probably the earliest. The other two (223, 341) are entirely of the Tuscan order. In addition, the ground-floor pilasters of 22 St. Mary's Street (357) reflect the same theme.
There are only two 18th-century buildings in Stamford with giant orders. At 21 High Street (182) of
1732 there are Corinthian pilasters on the upper two storeys of a three-storey house (Plate 101); it is not
known how the ground stage was originally treated, but masonry round the door is rusticated with
horizontally-channelled joints. The rusticated equal-sized quoins of 2 St. Mary's Place (341) have bases and
Tuscan capitals and are in reality a giant order on a two-storey house. The giant order was not used again
in Stamford until 1810 when the London architect Bond designed the Stamford Hotel (352). Six Corinthian
half columns, standing on a rusticated ground stage, reflect the ballroom inside and dominate the centre
of the main elevation. Later in the century pilasters are used to form giant orders at Rutland Terrace (288)
and Rock House (427), and superimposed orders at Rock Terrace (426).
Cornices (Plates 122, 123)
Fig. 14 Pilasters composed of superimposed Orders.
a.(341) 3 St. Mary's Place; b.(223) Lady Anne's House; c.(218) 33 High Street St. Martins.
The late 17th and early 18th-century eaves cornices have either large dentils (modillions) or shaped brackets
(called 'cantalevers' in contemporary manuals); most are made of wood but a few, e.g. at Brazenose House
(383), are of stone. In 1700 a plain modillion cornice, presumably in wood, cost 1s. 2d. to 1s. 4d. a foot,
whereas a stone cornice 18 to 20 inches deep cost 5s. to 6s. a foot and a carved wooden cornice cost 7s. a
foot (Wing, 267–8). An elaborate cornice of this more expensive type is that at 59 High Street (194). Eaves
boards from 18 St. George's Square (298) have rosettes painted between the brackets (Plate 85), while at
1 St. George's Square (291) there are carved paterae in this position. Few plain coved cornices remain, but
one at the rear of 8 High Street (174) is enriched with grotesque masks in plaster. The plainest form of
18th-century cornice was a moulded wooden strip below the eaves, as at 15 St. Mary's Street (351). In the
early 19th century, deeply projecting eaves were given shaped brackets; Henry Tatam's cornice at 9 Barn
Hill (97) is a unique application of cabinet-maker's motifs.
When parapets were introduced in the early 18th century, they were generally ornamented with
block cornices at eaves level. Often, as at the George Hotel (239), they were of small projection, but during
the second quarter of the century they were sometimes bold and deep as at 66–67 High Street St. Martins
(237). In the second half of the 18th century tightly moulded bracketed cornices were used, particularly on
the buildings associated with the 9th Earl of Exeter, but also on the Town Hall (57) and Vale House (250).
Early chimney stacks in Stamford rarely survive above eaves level, although drawings by Twopeny
(290/b.3, p. 32) show that several medieval stacks with louvred tops still existed in the early 19th century.
The only remaining stack, apparently of late medieval date, is the circular shaft at 11 St. George's Street
(304) (Plate 61).
In the 17th century rectangular shafts built of thin ashlar blocks laid on their sides first appeared.
Throughout the later part of that century and the 18th century their standard ornamentation was a moulded
string and cornice. Variations are few and limited to houses of highest quality. The stacks of 19 St. George's
Square (299) and 33 High Street St. Martins (218) are rusticated, and that at 2 Broad Street (127) has a
blind arch on each face. At 22 St. Mary's Street (357) the shafts are linked to form arcades (Plate 120).
These exceptional stacks all belong to the late 17th or early 18th centuries. In 1747 George Portwood,
junior, charged 6d. a foot for building chimney stacks (Ex. MS. 55/93).
Reset architectural fragments
The amount of reset masonry in Stamford is considerable, and in many gardens are preserved early architectural fragments. Brazenose gate (383) is not a fortuitous survival but the deliberate retention of part of
a building with historical associations, and the preservation of the remaining fragments of the Castle hall
(10) may have a similar explanation. This same approach, partly antiquarian, partly aesthetic and partly
sentimental, can be detected elsewhere. Two other medieval doorways, both plain, lead to yards (258, 434)
and a third leads to a garden (109). A more ornate doorway forms a prominent feature of the garden of
Vale House (250), and stands between the pleasure and the kitchen gardens. William Stukeley preserved
the magnificent gate at 9 Barn Hill (97), partly for its historical associations and partly because it could
easily be converted into an imposing garden alcove. Several carved medieval details probably from the
Austin friary site (43) were incorporated in the near-by Hopkins' Hospital (51). During the early 18th
century several townsmen formed collections of medieval sculpture, usually incorporated in garden features.
Little of William Stukeley's collection survives, but at least one fragment formerly in Alderman Feast's
collection from the Austin Friary, originally at 31–32 St. Peter's Street, is now reset in a garden terrace at
14 Barn Hill (101). Other architectural features appear to have been deliberately preserved, such as buttresses
(188, 345), and sometimes pieces of earlier sculpture were placed prominently on a new building (256).
The process continues to the present day, for three medieval doorways have been moved to new and
irrelevant positions (253, 412) in recent years, and 17th-century datestones were reset from the 18th century
onwards (133, 168, 225).
Interior decoration and fittings.
The only remaining evidence for 13th-century interior decoration is the survival of blind arcading in the
end-walls of the halls of two houses, and similar arcading in a ground-floor room of a third house (Plates
60, 62). This last arcade, at 13 St. Mary's Hill (338), resembles a feature of comparable date at Bull Cottage,
Witney Street, Burford (M. Laithwaite in Studies in English Urban History, ed. Everett (1973), 74–7). No wall
painting survives from such an early period, though Stukeley records that there were scriptural quotations
painted round the hall of 16 Barn Hill (103), presumably of the late 15th century. He also described the
open halls of 16 Barn Hill (103) and 11–12 St. Mary's Street (349) as having coves at the upper ends, the
latter being gilded. Nos. 11–12 St. Mary's Street and Peterborough Hall both retained medieval painted
glass in their windows (Stanfordia Illustrata II, 86, 91, 115).
In the 15th and 16th centuries the studs of timber-framed houses were commonly left exposed internally;
the hard white plaster did not need painting. Only two houses of this period retain painted decoration. At
51 High Street (189) a floral design was painted on the exposed studwork, but at 20 High Street St. Martins
(210) the walls were given a rendering of plaster before the elaborate floral design was applied (Plate 85).
In the better houses such as Digby House (255), moulded ceiling beams and joists contributed to the
decorative appearance of rooms.
Fig. 15 Splat balusters on staircases.
a. (299) 19 St. George's Square, 1674; b. (179) 16 High Street, c. 1700; c. (99) 12 Barn Hill, early
18th-century; d. (133) 14 Broad Street, early 18th-century; e. (249) 13 Ironmonger Street, late
The amount of 17th and 18th-century internal decorative detail surviving in Stamford is neither very
great nor of outstanding quality. Although much panelling was removed in the 18th and 19th centuries in
the pursuit of current fashions in interior decoration, it is likely that the amount which survives is a reasonable sample of that which originally existed. The degree of interior ornamentation in English town houses
of the 18th century seems to vary and Stamford is not alone in lacking many richly decorated rooms.
The explanation perhaps lies in the social structure of the town. Landed gentry appear not to have had
houses in Stamford, so that merchants and professional men formed the most affluent section of society.
In York, by way of contrast, the elaborately decorated houses in Micklegate were mainly those of the
gentry (RCHM, York III).
Wall-panelling does not survive from before the 17th century, when small panels in a scratched-moulded
framework, often with a carved frieze, occur in a few houses, such as 12 St. Paul's Street (375). A plaster
frieze survives at 5 St. Mary's Hill (333). Overmantels, as at 5–6 Barn Hill (95), were usually more elaborate
sections of panelling, the panels themselves bearing carved decoration. Elaborate 17th-century plasterwork
at 3 St. Peter's Street (398) is exceptional. Towards the end of the 17th century bolection panelling was
introduced. First seen at 19 St. George's Square (299) of 1674, it remained fashionable into the following
century. Sometimes it was worked in plaster as at Brazenose House (383). Fireplaces with heavy wooden
surrounds survive more frequently than panelling, and were doubtless always more common. Beams were
then often encased, sometimes plastered over and decorated with panels.
Eighteenth-century fielded panelling, usually in two heights with chair-rail and block cornice, does
not differ from that found elsewhere. During the first half of the century the panelling around fireplaces is
generally of greater elaboration, full-height fluted pilasters sometimes flanking the fireplace, which itself
may be surmounted by a large panel with shaped top, as at 12 Water Street (442). Occasionally lobbies were
contrived in the corners of rooms, as at 25–6 High Street (184). Decorated plaster ceilings are rarely found,
and most date from the second half of the century, as at 7 Crown Street (168). Cornices are more commonly
of wood than of plaster. Some of the larger houses have only a panelled dado, the walls above being
hung with paper or, as at 13 Barn Hill (100) in 1812, with tapestry (LAO, LD 40/45A). Decorative plasterwork on walls is found at 19 Broad Street (136).
Round or elliptical-headed arches were for most of the 18th century a feature of hallways, where they
pierced the spine wall of the house. They were decorated in the style of the period, as at 23 St. Mary's Street
(358) (Plate 135) and 13 Barn Hill (100) (Plate 135), and in the early 19th century were sometimes echoed
by shallow recesses of similar form in the adjacent walls (Fig. 147).
None of the stone vices recorded by Stukeley in 1736 survives (Stanfordia Illustrata II) and the earliest
staircases found date from the late 17th century. The larger ones are built around a well, as at 19 St. George's
Square (299), and have either flat or heavy turned balusters; similar staircases exist in large buildings in the
early 18th century, as at the George Hotel. In Stamford development in staircase construction and baluster
design generally resembles that recorded in other towns, but some of the more intricate forms of woodcarving are not found and twisted balusters are rare (Plates 132–134). The use of splat balusters (Fig. 15)
continued into the third quarter of the 18th century; they are frequently confined to the upper flights of
staircases which have turned balusters on the principal stages.
Fireplaces in Stamford are not outstanding and follow national trends (Plates 126–128). Sub-medieval
types gave way in the late 17th century to bolection-moulded surrounds in wood or stone; the series of
fireplaces at 19 St. George's Square (299) is of unusually high quality. In the 18th century a plain fireplace
was much in vogue, the rectangular stone surround having a small moulding on each arris; only occasionally
was there a keystone. Kitchen fireplaces were wide, usually with an elliptical arch, flanked by narrow openings
with round heads (Fig. 67). The neo-Grecian fireplaces at the Stamford Hotel are noteworthy (352).