Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Grantham's History

We took an historical walking tour of Grantham and learned a bit about some of the downtown buildings and the town's history.  I will freely admit that I have a difficult time wrapping my head around how old things are here.  Kansas just turned 150 (yay!).  This place has trashcans older than that.

Anyway, Grantham appears to have sprouted up in the sixth century, and as of 1086, it had 1300 residents.  It currently has about 40,000 people.  Some of its famous residents include Margaret Thatcher, who was born very near here, and Isaac Newton (pictured below), who went to school here in Grantham.

Grantham's Richard Hornsby and Sons developed the first diesel engine (1892) and the caterpillar track (1905), but through bad luck and/or bad business, patented and profited from neither of their inventions.  Grantham is also known for being the first place in the world to train female police officers (1914).

The is the town's Market Cross.  Our tour guide said that the steps of the cross are thought to be original, dating back to 1200-and-something.  The cross itself is actually new within the last 10 years.
But it's the area of town that holds the Grantham Market, which has been happening on Saturdays in Grantham for over 1000 years.  (No, that's not a typo.)  Various vendors set up booths outside to sell things -- rugs, clothes, meat, bread, books, toys, shoes, tons of produce.  We visited one Saturday and picked up some great bread and fruit (grapes, cherries, strawberries).

Apparently, Grantham also is home to England's only "living" pub sign:
The pub is called The Beehive, and that white box up in the tree is... you guessed it... a beehive.  There's been a bee hive there since 1830. 

This is Grantham House is the town's oldest house.  It was built in  1380.  The "new" part of the house (the back third) was added in 1574.

Today, the house is owned by the National Trust, a charity organization that preserves historic homes and buildings, and the house caretakers live there.

We also visited (though apparently didn't take any pictures of) the Angel and Royal Hotel, which is reportedly Britain's oldest inn, dating back to 1203.  Lots of famous visitors, including King John, King Richard III (who signed the death warrant for the Duke of Buckingham there), and Oliver Cromwell.


tracy said...

How did I miss the Bee Hive pub when I was there?? I'll just have to go back.

Brandon said...

I stand corrected. I guess not all your posts are about Cooper. LOL
It is hard to imaging buildings that old. That's pretty cool though!