The Lincolnshire market town of Sleaford is located at a point more or less equidistant from Boston, Grantham, Newark and the cathedral city of Lincoln. The River Slea, from which the town gets its name, flows through its centre. Sleaford’s history has been traced back to the Iron Age and a Roman presence remains with King Street (Peterborough to Lincoln) which passed through the east of the town, and Ermine Street which links the A1 and A17 through the nearby village of Ancaster. Bishop Alexander built a castle in Sleaford c.1130 A.D.; he also had castles built at Newark and Banbury. As he had with King Stephen’s cousin, Matilda, they were assurances for his personal safety. However, as events came to pass, it transpired that they were not needed. By the 1550’s, the then owner and Lord of the Manor, Robert Carre, began to dismantle the castle; the recovered stone can still be found in a few of the existing older properties within the town.
Agriculture dominates the surrounding areas which, along with East Anglia, have become the bread basket for the country. For approaching a thousand years, the major landlord was Lord Bristol. By 1979, the sixth Marquis had become domicile in Monte Carlo and, within ten years, had dispensed with all of his land; a good majority was sold to building developers. Consequently, the town’s population more than doubled to reach 16,000 by the beginning of the 21st century.
Sleaford is very proud of its academic facilities: it boasts four junior schools, and three secondary education schools/academies which cooperate to run a joint Sixth Form. Carre’s Grammar School for Boys (Robert Carre Academy Trust) was founded in 1604, and the Kesteven and Sleaford High School for Girls (now part of the Robert Carre Academy Trust) began three hundred years later. Together with St George’s Academy, they all possess the modern educational needs necessary for school leavers to meet the demands of the 21st century. The former Hubbard Phillips seed warehouse has now been converted into a National Craft and Design centre called the Hub.
Many of the public buildings, including the railway station, were built during the mid 19th century by resident but nationally renowned builders, Kirk & Parry. Prior to the railway arriving in 1857, Sleaford Navigation, which started in 1794, was the main communication link bringing water barges to the centre of the town. Recently, a new counter-balance bridge has been installed over the River Slea in readiness for when canal boats return.
12th century St Denys (pronounced ‘Dennis’) church dominates the Market Place, with the adjacent vicarage being the oldest surviving building in the Town. To the south of the town, Bass Maltings dominates the landscape. Built in 1905, it ceased operating in the 1950s, and a serious fire damaged parts of the building in 1976.
On the sporting front, Sleaford golf, cricket, rugby and football clubs own their own grounds/course and are active at competitive levels. They all enjoy the support of junior boys and girls teams. Bowls is well supported with an indoor and some four outdoor clubs. The town’s leisure centre with swimming pool and gym is very well supported by all ages. Other well-organised sporting clubs include Sleaford Striders athletics, Sleaford tennis club, hockey, netball, badminton and volleyball.
Socially, the town has a Georgian theatre offering amateur and professional productions, a town museum, several good hotels, restaurants and takeaways, which cater for most tastes. Live entertainment concerts take place annually in and around Sleaford, and the town’s own Band play regularly at charitable events.
The Royal Air Force is close by with their College some four miles away at Cranwell, and other local RAF Stations include Digby, Coningsby and the new home of the Red Arrows, Waddington.