Heritage, Visitor Economy and Leisure

Heritage, Visitor Economy and Leisure

The role of heritage in supporting the visitor economy is clear; Historic England’s report Heritage and the Economy (2018) confirmed that in 2015, 19% of all ‘tourist spending’ in the UK was on heritage related visits, and 47% of all international visits were heritage related. In 2016, international visitors to heritage sites in the East Midlands alone spent £227 million.


South Kesteven’s burgeoning tourism and leisure trade undoubtedly benefits from the district’s enviable heritage, which garners huge appeal with international visitors. From the Georgian delights of Stamford, fine country homes like Belton House, Irnham Hall and Grimsthorpe Castle, to Easton Walled Gardens’ spectacular rescue from dereliction.


Grantham has an incredibly rich history going back over a thousand years; the town lies close to an ancient major Roman road that ran from London (Londinium) to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) and York (Eboracum).


In 1643, it was the scene of Oliver Cromwell’s first win over the Royalists during the English Civil War, at Gonerby Moor. Mentioned as a Royal Manor in the Domesday Book, Grantham has come a long way since the days when it was recognised as a stopping place for kings and nobleman. The Angel and Royal Hotel, situated in the High Street, is widely regarded as the oldest surviving English inn. The façade of the main building as it appears today was built about 600 years ago, but the site had already been an inn for 200 years. It was originally built as a hostel for the Knights Templar.

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Science, Technology & Engineering

Sightseers from across the world come to Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace and home of influential scientist Sir Isaac Newton.


More recently, Raymond Mays established British Racing Motors (BRM) in Bourne, where he created an engineering and sporting legacy which still resonates in the town. BRM went on to thrive at the highest levels of motorsport, eventually winning the Formula One Constructors Title in 1962. 

Bourne Heritage Centre in the restored Baldock Mill contains a wonderful exhibition on British Racing Motors.


Charles Frederick Worth, renowned as the father of Haute Couture, was born at Wake House, on North Street in Bourne. His work would revolutionise the fashion industry and create the first fashion house. Worth is also featured in an exhibition at Bourne Heritage Centre.

Popular Culture

For years, South Kesteven’s historic houses and castles have provided the backdrop to some of Hollywood’s greatest hits like The Da Vinci Code, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and The Young Victoria and the Bollywood comedy Housefull 2: The Dirty Dozen.

Stamford in particular, attracts visitors from across the world, keen to see for themselves the backdrop to much-loved period dramas like Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice.

Local legend has it that Rippingale (near Bourne) was the inspiration behind the world’s longest running radio soap opera, The Archers. The Bull Inn in Rippingale is awash with memorabilia and enjoys regular visits from dedicated fans of The Archers, who come from far and wide to soak up the atmosphere.  

Aviation History

Wartime Flying heritage is everywhere in South Kesteven. There are plenty of places where you can explore South Lincolnshire’s rich aviation history, which is outlined in the Heritage of Flight feature on the South Kesteven District Council website.

Delve deeper into South Kesteven’s history, visit our Heritage Alive! website.

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The Maltings, Wharf Road, Grantham, NG31 6BH