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For the hamlet in South East England, see Sleaford, Hampshire.
Coat of arms of Sleaford
Sleaford high street; looking north along Southgate
Looking north along Southgate
Sleaford is located in Lincolnshire
 Sleaford shown within Lincolnshire
Population 17,359 
OS grid reference TF064455
   – London 100 mi (160 km)  S
District North Kesteven
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SLEAFORD
Postcode district NG34
Dialling code 01529
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Sleaford and North Hykeham
List of places

Coordinates: 52°59′46″N 0°24′47″W / 52.996°N 0.413°W / 52.996; -0.413

Sleaford is a town in the North Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, England. It is situated approximately 11 miles (18 km) north-east from Grantham, 16 miles (26 km) west from Boston, and 17 miles (27 km) south from the city and county town of Lincoln. A resident population of approximately 14,500 in 6,167 households was recorded at the time of the 2001 Census.[1]

First recorded in the 9th century, the name Sleaford is from the Old English 'esla + forde', meaning "ford over a muddy stream" (now known as the River Slea). The town was first settled in the Iron Age located around the point where a prehistoric track crossed the River Slea; it operated as a tribal centre and home to a mint for the Corieltauvi. Evidence of Roman and Saxon settlement has been uncovered and, by the late Saxon period, it appears that the town was a local economic and jurisdictional centre, hosting a court and market. During the medieval period, records differentiate between Old and New Sleaford, the latter emerging in the areas around the present day market place, church and castle. Granted the right to hold a market in the mid-12th century, New Sleaford developed into a market town and became important in the wool trade. In 1794, the Slea was canalised; known as the Sleaford Navigation, it brought economic growth to the town until it was superseded by the railways in the mid-1850s. In the 20th century, the sale of farmland around Sleaford led to the development of large housing projects and a significant rise in the town's population.

Until recently, Sleaford was primarily an agricultural town, supporting a cattle market[n 1] and seed companies such as Hubbard and Phillips, and Sharpes International Seeds. More recently, Sleaford is developing as a tourist and craft destination.



In 852 the name first appears as 'Slioford' whilst in the 1086 Domesday book it is recorded as "Eslaforde".[3]


Evidence of Bronze Age and earlier settlement in the Sleaford area is relatively sparse; the remains of a sword dating from the bronze age, found near Billinghay in 1852, being one such example.[4] Other archaeological material from this period has been recovered,[5] and further excavations have shown that there was human activity in this area during the Late Neolithic period and Bronze Age, but that this was not sustained.[6] In general, the evidence does not indicate that there was any settlement in the Sleaford area prior to the late Iron Age.[7] The earliest known settlement of the area dates from the late pre-Roman Iron Age and originated where a track running northwards from Bourne crossed the river Slea.[8] Only sparse pottery evidence has been found for the middle Iron Age period, but located south east of the modern town centre, south of a crossing of the river Slea and near Mareham Lane (an area known as Old Sleaford) are the remains of a late Iron Age mint, dated to 50 BC–50 AD; its size has led archaeologists to consider that Old Sleaford was probably the largest Corieltauvian settlement during this period and may have been a tribal centre.[9][10][11][12]

An electrum stater of the Corieltauvi, probably struck at Sleaford in the mid-first century BC. Diameter 17-19 mm.

During the Roman occupation of Britain, the settlement at Sleaford was "extensive and of considerable importance"[13] and it was occupied continually up to at least the 4th century AD and possibly into the next century.[14] Its location along the fen-edge may have made it economically and administratively significant as a centre for managers and owners of large fenland estates.[15] There is also evidence to suggest a road connected Old Sleaford to Heckington, where tile kilns are known, something which may imply the presence of a market at Sleaford.[16] When the first main roads were constructed by the Romans in Britain, Sleaford was bypassed due to it being "less conveniently located" and more "geared to native needs".[17] However, a smaller road, Mareham Lane, which the Romans renewed, ran through Old Sleaford, and southwards along the fen edge, towards Bourne. Where it passed through Old Sleaford, excavations have revealed a large stone-built domestic residence with associated farm buildings, corn-driers, ovens and field systems, all dating from the Roman period, as well as a number of burials.[18] Further Roman remains, including a burial, have been excavated in the town.[19][20]


A view of the 11th century St Denys' Church, looking over the Navigation Yard, with the Almshouses immediately in front of the church.

The history of Sleaford at the decline of the Roman occupation of Britain is obscure and there is little evidence that the site was settled continuously between then and the Anglo-Saxon period.[21] Nonetheless, the Saxons did establish themselves in the area within two centuries and a large cemetery, estimated to contain up to 600 burials, many showing signs of Pagan burial rights, has been uncovered and dated to the 6th-7th centuries AD.[22] Excavations of the present-day Market Place have uncovered Anglo-Saxon remains, possibly indicating some form of enclosure, with domestic features; these have been dated to the 8th-9th centuries AD.[23] The earliest documentary reference to Sleaford is found in a charter from the 9th century AD,[24] but there is little evidence of estate structure there until the late Saxon period.[25]

The Domesday Book, a Norman survey of England compiled in 1086, has two entries for Sleaford, which were once believed to relate only to Old Sleaford; however, it is now thought by historians that only one entry, land owned by the Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey, is now thought to refer to Old Sleaford and the other land, owned by the Bishop of Lincoln, was "New Sleaford", though the two were not distinguished until the 13th century.[26][27][28] Old Sleaford is thought to have existed around Old Place and St Giles Church, the latter of which no longer exists;[27] according to Trollope, Old Sleaford was "separated from New Sleaford on the north by the little river Slea, bounded on the west and south by Quarrington, and by Kirkby Laythorpe on the east.".[29] By the 15th century, the church at Old Sleaford was in the possession of the Monastery of the Blessed Mary of Haverholme, who appointed a vicar. After the dissolution of the monastery in the 16th century, the vicar was appointed by the King and the tithes were sold. There were few parishioners and they went over to New Sleaford to attend church;[30] indeed, during the late mediaeval period, the village had "dwindled" and may have been "deserted" by the 16th century.[27]

Although historians have suggested that the town of New Sleaford was "planted" during the 1120s to generate a more lucrative source of income for the land-owner (the Bishop of Lincoln), this hypothesis has been criticised and it may pre-date this period, or at least there may have been an earlier manorial interest there.[27][31] The Bishop's manor had been held by Bardi before 1066 and the Domesday Book implies the presence of a court and market, which gave it economic and jurisdictional importance as an estate centre (caput).[32] As one historian commented, during the Middle Ages "Sleaford always remained a trading centre,"[33] though this was primarily of service to local needs and the town did not develop its own independent mercantile life, possibly owing to the tight control exercised by the Bishop of Lincoln.[34] In the mid-twelfth century, Sleaford was formally granted a market by the Bishop and the date was changed to Thursday in 1202. In 1258, it became a borough. A royal charter granted the right to hold a fair and a market in 1329; Henry IV granted a the right to hold two fairs in 1401.[35] By the 14th century, it was the wealthiest settlement in the Flaxwell wapentake and in 1563 the town had 145 households.[35] Sleaford was also home to at least two mediaeval guilds, which were more religious and charitable than economic, but comparable to those found in developed towns elsewhere.[35][33] Of note is the now ruined Sleaford Castle, constructed some time around 1130 by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln.[36] King John is recorded as having stayed at Sleaford Castle in 1216, while unwell after travelling across The Wash; he moved on to Newark, where he subsequently died.[37] The Castle fell into decline in the Elizabethan era, and a grant of 1604 by a local land-owner refers to the "late fair" castle, implying that it has been taken down by that time.[38] It is now a listed building, but only a small section of wall still stands.[36]

Early modern[edit]

The 14th century brought a decline in demesne farming and it is likely that the economic initiative in the town increasingly fell to the burgesses; merchants developed connections with neighbouring towns, such as Boston, and Sleaford seems to have developed a locally important role in the wool trade.[39] During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, a prominent Sleaford mercantile family, the Husseys, were in possession of Old Sleaford. One of its members was John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, raised to the peerage in 1529 and executed for treason in 1537. The Manor of Old Sleaford (and his residence at Old Place) reverted to the crown and were later sold to Robert Carre.[40] The Carre family were one of the most prominent in Sleaford in the 16th and 17th centuries; originally from Northumberland, the family settled in Sleaford by 1522, when a merchant, George Carre, lived there.[41] His son, Robert (died 1590), was the purchaser of Hussey's land, and went on to purchase the castle and manor of New Sleaford from Lord Clinton.[42][n 2] His eldest surviving son, Robert (died 1606), founded the town's Grammar School in 1604, while his youngest son, Edward, was created a baronet (see Carr baronets), and his son founded the Sleaford Hospital in 1636.[45] The last male descendent died in 1683 and the heiress, Isabella Carre, married John Hervey, who was created Earl of Bristol and in whose family the estates remained until the 1970s.[46][47]

Enclosure of common lands around Sleaford began in the 14th century and was almost complete by 1750,[48] however, some land in surrounding parishes, with poor soil, was not enclosed until the high grain prices of the 1800s made farming profitable.[49]


Sleaford, as it appeared in 1891. The major roads are marked in red; railways in grey and rivers in blue. Key: (1) Market Place, (2) St Denys' Church, (3) Manor House, (4) Carre's Grammar School, (5) Westholme House, (6) Castle, (7) Station, (8) Old Place, (9) the remains of St Giles's Church, (10) the Union workhouse.[50]

Canals in England were constructed to facilitate water-based, inland trade; the first of these canals opened at Bridgewater in 1761 and this was followed in the 1760s and 1770s by further developments. Sleaford's businessmen were keen to benefit from this new form of communication and trade, and so plans were drawn up in 1773.[51] Further discussions were held and new plans were approved by residents in 1791; with the support of Brownlow Bertie, 5th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, who owned estates and quarries nearby, the plans were enabled by an Act of Parliament in 1792 and the Sleaford Navigation opened in 1794.[52] This new canal system indeed facilitated trade, with Sleaford exporting agricultural produce (especially corn) to the Midlands, and importing coal and oil; warehouses and wharves were developed in the early 19th century. As a measurement of its wealth and growth, between 1829 and 1836 the lease of the Navigation's toll rights increased in value by nearly 27 times.[53] The commercial growth around these wharves led to the development of Carre Street, connecting Eastgate and the Market Place with Boston Road.[54]

In the first half of the 19th century, Sleaford's population more than doubled, growing from 1,596 in 1801 to 3,539 in 1851.[55] Coinciding with this is the construction or extension of a range of important and prominent buildings, many of which are now listed.[n 3][56][57] The Gasworks opened in 1839, fuelling new gas lamps in the town.[58] Meanwhile, Sleaford's Poor Law Union was formed in 1836 to cater for the town and its surrounding 54 parishes; the workhouse was constructed by 1838 and could house 181 inmates.[59]

Despite the growth of the canal system, railways were beginning to emerge in the 19th century as an alternative and later competitive form of transport. Early proposals to bring the railway to Sleaford had failed,[n 4] but in 1852 plans were made to develop the Boston, Sleaford and Midland Counties Railway; an Act of Parliament to that effect was passed in 1853 and a line from Grantham to Sleaford opened in 1857; Boston was connected in 1859, Bourne in 1871 and Ruskington (part of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway) in 1882.[61][62] The railway did not cause significant population growth, but it did facilitate easier agricultural trade, greater communication (via telegraph) and, through the importation of bricks, it contributed to the development of new buildings.[n 5][63] It also led to the speedy decline on the Navigation Company, whose income from tolls decreased by 80% between 1858 and 1868; it made its first loss in 1873 and was abandoned in 1878.[64] The railway, along with Sleaford's rural location and artesian wells, was a key factor in the development of the 13-acre Bass & Co. maltings complex (completed 1905).[65] The Electricity Station opened in 1901.[66]


Although largely undamaged by the First and Second World Wars,[67] Sleaford has close links with the Royal Air Force due its proximity to several RAF bases, including RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington; these links date back to the earliest development of that branch of the armed forces. Lincolnshire's topography — flat and open countryside — and its location on the east of the country made it ideal for the development of Britain's airfields, constructed in the First World War. Work began on Cranwell in late 1915; it became designated an RAF base in 1918 and the RAF College there opened in 1920 as he world's first air academy.[68][69] The Cranwell branch was a railway linking Sleaford station to the RAF base; it opened in 1917 and was closed in 1956.[70][71] During the Second World War, Lincolnshire was "the most significant location for bomber command" and Rauceby Mental Hospital, south-west of Sleaford, was requisitioned by the RAF and served as a specialist burns unit, with plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe regularly visiting the hospital.[68]

In the inter-war period, Sleaford's population remained static and the Great Depression of the 1920s caused unemployment to rise.[72] There had been private housing developments in the town, but these were limited. There were small council-housing developments along Drove Lane and the construction of Newfield Road and Meadowfield,[73] but these proved insufficient after the slum clearances along Westgate in the 1930s; Jubilee Grove opened in that decade as the first major council development, though reluctance from Lord Bristol and deference from the councillors meant plans to build the Woodside Estate in 1936 were delayed.[74]

The post-war period saw considerable expansion. There were new housing developments along Boston Road (St Giles Avenue, the Hoplands and Russell Crescent), East of Sleaford Wood and above the railway, and to the south of Grantham Road.[75] In 1958, the Bristol Arms Arcade opened, the Corn Exchange was demolished in the 1960s and the Waterside Shopping Precinct and Flaxwell House, designed to house a department store, though later becoming the national headquarters for Interflora, were opened in 1973.[76] In 1979, the major landowner, Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol (died 1985), heavily in debt, had sold off the majority of his estates in Sleaford and Quarrington; by 1989, the estates office closed completely.[77] With much of this land being sold to real-estate developers, the following decades saw the construction of new residential buildings and a considerable population increase.[78] The estates along Boston Road, Southfield in Quarrington, around Milton Way in Sleaford, south of London Road and north of Grantham Road in Quarrington, and south of Holdingham were constructed from the 1980s onwards.[75][79] Property prices were considerably lower in these new developments than in London, which attracted newcomers to the area throughout the 1990s.[80] Between 1981 and 2011, Sleaford's population rose from 8,000 to 18,000; the growth rate from 1991 to 2001 was the fastest of any town in the county.[81][82] The town's infrastructure struggled to cope, especially with increased congestion, which resulted in two bypasses around the town and a one-way system within it being introduced, a process which accelerated the decline of the High Street.[83] In the early 2000s, the Single Regeneration Budget allowance of £15 million granted to Sleaford improved the town centre and funded the development of the Hub (since 2011, The National Centre for Craft & Design).[84]



For more details on this topic, see Sleaford and North Hykeham (UK Parliament constituency)

Before 1832, Sleaford was part of the constituency of Lincolnshire, which encompassed the whole county, except for the boroughs of Lincoln, Boston, Grantham and Stamford. In the 1818 election, 49 of the 2,000 people living in New and Old Sleaford and Quarrington qualified to vote. In 1832, the Reform Act widened the franchise and divided Lincolnshire; Sleaford fell into the new South Lincolnshire constituency, which elected two Members of Parliament.[85] After the voting reforms of 1832, Sleaford became a polling place for the Members of Parliament for the Southern Division of Lincolnshire.[2] Following the 1867 reforms, the franchise was widened; roughly 15% (202) of males in Sleaford and Quarrington could vote in 1868.[86] The constituency was abolished in 1885 and Sleaford became its own constituency, which merged with the Grantham seat in 1918. In 1997, Sleaford separated from that constituency and was reorganised into Sleaford and North Hykeham. The member returned in 2010 was the Conservative Stephen Phillips MP QC, who replaced Douglas Hogg, PC QC. Lincolnshire elected its own Member of the European Parliament from 1974 until 1999; since then, it has elected members as part of the East Midlands constituency; from 1999, there were six MEPs for the East Midlands, but this number was reduced to five in 2009.

Local Government[edit]

For more details on this topic, see North Kesteven

With the establishment of the Kesteven County Council under the Local Government Act 1888, Sleaford became its county town. In 1894, the Local Government Act 1894 converted the Local Board of Health into the Sleaford Urban District Council and, in 1899, the town became the administrative base of the Kesteven County Council.[87] Under the Local Government Act 1894, Kesteven was subdivided and the Sleaford Rural District formed; the rural districts created by the 1894 Act were reorganised in under a 1929 Act so that Kesteven was divided into North, East, West and South districts; Sleaford fell into the North district and became an Urban District. In 1976, the North and East districts and Sleaford Urban District were combined to form North Kesteven, which became a district of Lincolnshire. The District Council offices are located in the Victorian Lafford Terrace building, Eastgate, which was purchased by the Council in 1934 and has since been altered and extended.[88] Sleaford Town Council, existing at parish level, has offices on Carre Street.

Public utilities[edit]

Policing in Sleaford falls under the responsibility of the Lincolnshire Constabulary, and firefighting under the responsibility of the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service. The Police station is located on Boston Road, though older premises existed on Kesteven Street, off Eastgate, and were erected in 1845 and reconstructed in 1912.[89] The Fire Station is based at Church Lane, off Northgate, although plans to move it to new facilities on East Road by 2016 were approved in 2014.[90]


The United Reformed Church (previously the Congregational Church) in Southgate had its frontage redeveloped in 2007 to provide community rooms, called "The Source",[91] with assistance from WREN and Lincolnshire County Council's 'Multi Use Centres' initiative. In 2008 Sleaford United Reformed and Community churches joined to become The Riverside Church.[92]


Weir below a bridge in the town centre

The A17 road from Newark-on-Trent to King's Lynn passes around Sleaford. The road previously ran through the town and was bypassed in the 1970s, with the road officially opening in 1975. The Holdingham roundabout connects the A17 to the A15 road from Peterborough to Scawby, via Lincoln. The road also ran through Sleaford until 1993, when a bypass around the town was opened. Internally, Sleaford comprises three main roads which meet at the market place: Northgate (B1518, leading to Lincoln Road and onto Holdingham Roundabout), Southgate (branching onto Grantham and Lincoln Roads and Mareham Lane; connecting to Boston Road) and Eastgate (B1517, connecting to the A153 and A17 via the Bone Mill Junction). A one way system connecting Southgate, Carre Street and part of Boston Road creates a circuit around the town centre, with the system forming part of the B1517, which then leads on to Grantham Road and through to the A15. Boston Road, connecting with Southgate, leaves the town and joins the A17 at Kirkby la Thorpe.

The three-platform railway station provides a junction served by local trains using the Peterborough to Lincoln Line on which trains continue to Doncaster (historically part of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway), and the busier Grantham to Skegness Line, on which trains continue to Nottingham.[93] From Nottingham, there are connections to Cardiff via Birmingham,[94] Liverpool, Leicester, Derby and Worksop. Sleaford is the only Lincolnshire town to be served by both north–south and east–west lines. Grantham station and its express East Coast Main Line rail link to London are about 25 minutes away from Sleaford by road,[95] or 25–30 minutes by rail.[96] Travel by train to London King's Cross from Sleaford usually takes just under two hours (including connections).

The River Slea was made navigable in 1794 as the Sleaford Navigation; however, the company responsible for it closed in 1878. The river, although no longer navigable, passes through the town and runs under Carre Street and Northgate. The Nine Foot Drain, also unnavigable, forks off the Slea just before Northgate.

There are several new cycle paths around the town, including the Sleaford Cycle Trail, but Sleaford is not yet connected to the National Cycle Network. In July 2005, plans were made to connect the town with the existing NCN National Route 15, which (at that time) ended just north of Grantham, by extending it through Sleaford to meet the NCN National Route 1 at the River Witham.


Carre's Grammar School; these buildings were constructed in 1834.[97]
No. 62 Southgate, Sleaford, built c. 1850 by Charles Kirk and subsequently part of Kesteven and Sleaford High School.[98]

Nursery and primary education[edit]

There are several privately run nurseries for pre-school age children in Sleaford, including New Life Pre-School,[99] Redcroft Day Nursery, Woodside Children's Nursery, Happy Day Nursery and Sleaford Day Nursery. Today there are four primary schools; Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Primary School (RC), the William Alvey Church of England School, St Botolph's Church of England Primary School and Church Lane Primary School & Nursery.

In 1726 William Alvey bequeathed land to fund the teaching of children in Sleaford. In 1851, new buildings were constructed to house the school and the master. By 1856, it was being "conducted on the National System" and was named "Alvey's Endowed School".[100] New buildings for the infants' school were constructed in 1888.[101] The buildings have since been expanded and the school became an Academy in 2012.[102] St Botolph's School is a Church of England Primary School, which opened at its current site in 2002.[103] Church Lane School is housed in buildings constructed in 2002; in 2013, it housed roughly 201 children.[104] Our Lady of Good Counsel school was constructed for a capacity of 120 pupils and in 2011 had 155 pupils on roll.[105][106]

Secondary education[edit]

Westholme House, built in 1849 by Charles Kirk in the Gothic style, part of Sleaford Secondary Modern (later St George's Academy) from 1957.[98]

The town has three secondary schools. Carre's Grammar School (male selective secondary school), Kesteven and Sleaford High School Selective Academy (female selective secondary school) and St George's Academy, formerly St. George's College of Technology (mixed secondary school).

Carre's Grammar school was founded in 1604 by a bequest of Robert Carre of Aswarby to provide for the education of local boys. Carre granted several local men land in Gedney, making them feoffees; the rents of the tenants formed the means of financing the school.[107] Payments could be late, while the land was not urbanised and thus did not increase in value.[108] The school went into a period of decline in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; however, a group of trustees purchased land in 1826 and secured funding in 1830 for the construction of new buildings and the school reopened in 1835.[109][110] The school's buildings were extended in the 1900s[111] and added to considerably in the 1940s and 1950s, with a canteen opening alongside new science and art blocks.[97][110][112] The school became grant-maintained in 1991 and received funding for a new technology and labs block;[113][114] it received Specialist Sports College status in 2003 and an additional Science specialist status in 2009.[115][116] Carre's became an Academy in 2011 and was judged to be at "good" standard by OfSted in 2013, at which time it had 817 pupils, including the co-education Sixth Form.[116]

In 1902, Sleaford and Kesteven High School for Girls was established in the architect Charles Kirk's old house on Southgate by a group of local business, and was managed by a board of nine directors and run as a limited company.[117][118] It was taken over by the Higher Education Committee of the Kesteven County Council in 1918.[119][120] Having received specialist arts school status in 2003,[121][122] it became an Academy in 2011 and was judged to be at "good" standard at its OfSted inspection in 2013, at which time there were 825 pupils on roll, including those in the co-educational Sixth Form.[123]

By 1907, the increase in Sleaford's population led the County and District Councils to decide that the town needed a new school; Kesteven Council School opened in 1908, housed in a purpose-built school on Church Lane.[124] New buildings at Westholme were constructed in 1957[125] and the Church Lane site was closed in 1984, with extensions being made to the Westholme site; the school, then named Sleaford Secondary Modern, was renamed St George's at this time.[126][127] In the 1990s and 2000s, additions were made to the buildings and the school received specialist technology college status (1994).[128][129] The school was grant-maintained and then a foundation school before it became an Academy in 2010 and merged with Coteland's Community School in Ruskington and Aveland High School in Billingborough.[130][131] The Aveland closed and Coteland's became a satellite school, its buildings being demolished and new ones erected, while those at the Sleaford site were updated considerably, opening in 2012.[132] The school had 2247 pupils on roll in 2012, across both sites and including the Sixth Form; when assessed by OfSted in that year, was judged to be at "good" standard.[130]

Further and higher education[edit]

The three secondary schools each run Sixth Forms. From 1983, they operated a joint co-educational Joint Sixth Form consortium, allowing students from the schools to pick subjects at any of the Sixth Forms in the consortium.[133] In 2010 the High School withdrew,[134] but St George's and Carre's continued to operate the Joint Sixth Form.[135] At the beginning of the academic year 2010/2011, there were 776 pupils in the Joint Sixth Form.[136]



Side of the Hub, with start of new riverside walk alongside River Slea.

The National Centre for Craft & Design includes galleries and studio space. It is situated in the former Hubbard's Seed Warehouse on the Sleaford Navigation wharf and opened as The Hub in 2003 as part of the Single Regeneration Budget.[137] Sleaford Museum Trust keeps its collections in storage due to lack of suitable premises but has established a "virtual museum".[138]

The Playhouse theatre was constructed in 1825 and ran until 1853, before re-opening two years later, only to be sold off in 1856; it was converted into an infants school the following year and later became a library and offices. In 1994, Sleaford Little Theatre bought it and restored it, which work was completed in 2000, when it opened to the public.[139][140] A grade II listed building, it is one of two Georgian playhouse buildings in the country.[141] The Carre Gallery, located on Carre Street, holds regular exhibits from local artists.[142]

The Sleaford Picturedrome opened in 1920 and proved popular, with it acquiring sound in 1931, an improved screen in 1955 and an additional screen in 1980; however, during the 1980s, there was a downturn in the number of patrons and the building's fabric deteriorated, with the old screen closing in 1984. In 2000, the cinema closed and became a snooker hall and then a nightclub;[143][144] however, due to poor demand, it was closed in 2008.[145]


Sleaford hosts a range of sporting clubs. The non-league football club is Sleaford Town F.C., which dates from 1920, when a group of enthusiasts from the Sleaford YMCA branch played a friendly match against Ruskington; in 1923, the team formally entered the Ruskington League as the Sleaford Red Triangle FC. In 1927, it became the Sleaford Amateurs FC and in the following decades won several local trophies, culminating in the club won the Lincoln Amateur Cup in 1952. In 1966, the club moved to the Boston Road Recreation Ground, where facilities for the club were poor. Two years later, the name changed to Sleaford Town FC. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the club won 15 cups or titles under the management of Brian Rowland (retired 2009). In 2004, the club moved into the United Counties League, which necessitated the move away from the Recreation Ground; purpose-built facilities were completed at Eslaforde Park in 2007 and were owned by Sleaford Sports Association.[146][147]

Additionally, the town's rugby, golf, cricket and bowls clubs have dedicated facilities. The clubhouse for Sleaford Rugby FC opened in 1999 and is situated off the A153.[148] Sleaford Golf Club was founded in 1905 and had roughly 100 members the following year, which increased to 193 in 1911. The clubhouse was renovated in 1992 and the original golf course has been altered. In 2014, the club roughly 600 members.[149][150] The town has a Cricket Club, with grounds at London Road; the earliest record of the club dates to 1803.[151][152] The town is also home to a bowls club, called Bristol Bowls Club (after the Marquesses of Bristol, who owned land in the area).[153] Finally, an all-discipline gymnastics club was founded in 1996 and is based on Westgate, close to the town centre.[154]

An outdoor lido was opened in 1872 on riverside land previously owned by the Bristol estate but handed over to the community as public baths.[155] Modern indoor facilities were built in the twentieth century and the old lido became Sleaford Leisure Centre; in 2011 the Kesteven District Council received a grant of £2.85 million, which funded the reconstruction of the centre and its gym.[156][157]


Local newspapers are The Sleaford Target,[158] The Sleaford Citizen, and The Sleaford Standard.[159] Local radio is provided by BBC Lincolnshire and the commercial radio station Lincs FM.


Following Sleaford Fairtrade Group's launch in May 2009, Sleaford was declared by the Fairtrade Foundation to be a Fairtrade Town in June 2010.[160][161] The Mayor, Councillor Jack Collings, was presented with the Certificate on 3 July 2010. Fairtrade Town status was renewed in October 2011 for a period of 2 years by the Fairtrade Foundation.


St. Denys facade, opening onto the market place

The parish church of St. Denys forms the eastern side of the town's market place. The building, which has the oldest stone broach spire in England,[162] mostly dates from 1180 although sections were rebuilt following an electrical storm in 1884. The altar rail (originally from Lincoln Cathedral) is by Sir Christopher Wren. [n 6] The church is also known for its stained glass, traceried windows and carved gargoyle heads, the buildings Grade I listing notes "particularly good mid Cl4 tracery and ornament".[164]

Cogglesford Mill in 2002

Cogglesford Mill (sited on the banks of the River Slea) dates from the 17th century. It is Lincolnshire's last working water mill and is possibly the last working Sheriff's Mill in England[165] (making it of national importance). It is probably on the site of an earlier Mercian estate mill. The adjacent house where the mill worker would have lived is now a restaurant.

Sleaford's Bull & Dog public house, formerly the Black Bull, dates from 1689 (according to a datestone set in its front wall) and is said[by whom?] to have the oldest surviving bull-baiting pub sign in England.

In the town centre stands Money's Mill, a 1796 windmill. It currently has no sails and for several years served as Sleaford's tourist information centre.

Bass Maltings

Old Place, once the manor of the ancient parish of Old Sleaford is situated off Boston Road. Originally "bilded of stone and timbre" it was the home of Lord Hussey who was tried by Henry VIII for treason and executed at Lincoln Castle for his part in the Lincolnshire Pilgrimage of Grace. It then passed to the Carre family. After being reportedly destroyed by fire during the English Civil War it was rebuilt and ultimately passed into the hands of the Marquis of Bristol, through marriage. The grand three storey building that stands today was largely rebuilt in 1822 with a Victorian Gothic extension added c.1885. After a period of dilapidation in the latter twentieth century, the house is now restored and split into townhouses.[citation needed]

The Bass Maltings complex opened fully in 1905, replacing all the small malthouses in the area. The complex struggled to remain open during the Second World War, but survived and continued operating until 1960. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner considered the huge brewing malthouses to be Lincolnshire's most important industrial architecture, stating in his book Buildings of England; "For sheer impressiveness, little in English architecture can equal the scale of this building. A massive four-storey square tower is in the centre of a line of eight detached pavilions. The total frontage is nearly 1,000 feet."[166]

Other town landmarks include the Handley Monument, the semi-derelict Bass Maltings, the ruins of Sleaford Castle, and the Picturedrome (once a cinema (upstairs) and a pool hall (downstairs), later a nightclub and currently unoccupied).


Sleaford holds a market in the town on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Until 1202, it had been held on Sunday but in that year it was transferred to Thursday and at a later date from Thursday to Monday. Since 1912, an annual charity raft race has taken place on the River Slea. In recent years, this has been coupled with the Water Festival local music event.



As with the rest of the British Isles, Sleaford experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest Met Office weather station for which online records are available is Cranwell, about 3.3 miles (5.3 km) miles north-west of the town centre.

Climate data for Cranwell 1961-1990 62m asl (Weather station 3.5 miles (6 km) to the NW of Sleaford)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.8
Average low °C (°F) 0.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 48
Mean monthly sunshine hours 58.4 69.5 109.2 140.1 195.1 193.9 184.6 175.3 141.7 108.3 70.6 54.3 1,501
Source: Met Office[167]


Town twinning started in Europe after the Second World War. Its purpose was to promote friendship and greater understanding between the people of different European cities. A twinning link is a formal, long-term friendship agreement involving co-operation between two communities in different countries and endorsed by both local authorities. The two communities organise projects and activities around a range of issues and develop an understanding of historical, cultural, lifestyle similarities and differences.

The Sleaford and District Town Twinning Association is responsible for this process and maintaining links; founded in 1999, it coordinates annual visits with its twin towns, the following municipalities:[168]

Notable Sleafordians[edit]


  1. ^ According to Genuki, there were five annual cattle fairs, held on Plough Monday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, 12 August and 20 October.[2]
  2. ^ It was previously sold by the Bishops of Lincoln to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and reverted to the crown on his attainder in 1549; Queen Mary I later sold it to Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln.[43][44]
  3. ^ The principle buildings being: Sessions House (1831), the Grammar School (1834), Carre Hospital (1830-1846), the Gasworks (1839), Navigation House (1838–39), much of Eastgate (including the Alvey School in 1850, and Kingston and Lafford Terraces in 1856 and 1857), the Cemetery (1856) and the Corn Exchange (1857)
  4. ^ Proposals to link Sleaford to Ancaster (for transporting stone) in 1827 did not materialise; works by the Ambergate Company in the 1840s should have extended to reach Sleaford, but they stopped at Grantham in 1850, while opposition from the Navigation Company to another proposal further delayed railway links to the town.[60]
  5. ^ These buildings were on Station Road (created for the station), Nag's Head Passage, West Banks, Grantham Road and London Road, and in New Quarrington.
  6. ^ Country churches which boast work by Sir Christopher Wren are few and far between, but one such is St. Denys' in Sleaford's busy market place. At the time of the French Revolution, Lincoln Cathedral was refurbished and the cathedral's altar rail was surplus to requirements. The then vicar of Sleaford managed to persuade the church authorities to let St. Denys have the rail. The church's medieval rood screen was restored in 1919 by Sir Ninian Comper in memory of 3 members of the Peake family killed in action in the First World War. In the days before state schooling, priests often doubled as teachers and the Lady Chapel was used as a schoolroom in the 19th century. Members of the Carre family are buried in the vault below the Lady Chapel, whose six-light stained glass and traceried window was rated by Nicholas Pevsner as the fourth finest in England.[163]



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  • Trollope, E. (1872). Sleaford, and the wapentakes of Flaxwell and Aswardhurn.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Sleaford at Wikimedia Commons