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Stamford is 'number one' in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in The Midlands and Rutland recognised in shortlist

Stamford has been named the best place to live in the Midlands by The Sunday Times.

It is top of a list of eight locations in the region chosen to represent the best of Britain in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.

The comprehensive guide has been released online by The Sunday Times today (March 26) - www.thetimes.co.uk/best-places-to-live - and will be available in the paper on Sunday.


The Sunday Times’ judges behind the guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.

They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit - which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.

The guide also uses house prices provided by data specialists TwentyCi and information on internet speeds by Thinkbroadband.com.

High Street
High Street

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times Property Editor, said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings. With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.

“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.

“With more than 600 listed buildings, life in Stamford feels like one long period drama.

“But it’s not just a pretty place, it’s friendly, too - with a vibrant weekly market, sociable dog walks by the River Welland and, in Support Our Stamford, a volunteer group behind one of the best community responses to Covid.”

It is not the first time the town has made this prestigious short list - it also appeared in 2018 and 2019, came second in 2017 and was overall winner in 2013.

The judges described the former wool town as “architectural eye candy."

They added: “Wherever you turn there’s something to admire: five medieval churches, Tudor pubs, the grade II listed station, gargoyles, carvings and elaborate door knockers, all of which add historic interest to any outing.”

They were also impressed with the weekly market, which brought everyone together even while it has been essentials only during lockdown and much-loved independent shops, such as coal-fired Askers Bakery, the arty department store Sinclairs and the hardware emporium Harrison & Dunn.

There was special mention for Stamford Arts Centre, "which hasn’t let its enforced closure stop it from keeping PE9 culturally connected. It has staged online art and ukulele classes, launched a Zoom film group and streamed theatre productions.”

Rutland was also listed as one of the top eight locations to live in the Midlands.

Even though it failed to maintain its Big Mac-free status when a drive-in branch of McDonald’s opened on the Oakham bypass last November, the judges praised England’s smallest county for its independent spirit, as well as for attractiveness of its rolling green fields, pretty villages and the twin market towns of Oakham and Uppingham.

Judges said: “They remain the friendly, defiantly independent hubs they’ve always been - happy reminders of the days when “small town” wasn’t an insult and the butcher and baker knew your name and exactly what you’d like.”

Most of all, they like the bread on offer from Baines Bakery in Uppingham and Hambleton Bakery, which bakes its loaves in wood-fired ovens using flour ground at a local windmill.

They said: “Rutland offers down-to-earth country living at its best. Rutland Water has been a rewarding venue for lockdown exercise, and the local produce is second to none.”

Last year Uppingham was named as the best place to live in the Midlands in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live.

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