Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: Stamford Was a University Town

The wonderful old town of Stamford, one of the outstanding towns of England, was according to legend the first town in Britain to boast a University.

The legend has it that (according to some sources in 863 B.C.) King Bladud of Britain established a University at Stamford.

Bladud, says legend, was the son of King Lud, after whom Ludgate in London, near St. Pauls Cathedral, is named. Bladud himself was cured of leprosy by wallowing in muddy springs, and built the city of Bath on the site. He learned to fly, but was killed when he crash landed. His son Lear founded Leicester and is the subject of a famous tragedy by William Shakespeare.

It is said that the authority for this tradition is the great wizard Merlin himself.

However, Stamford really did have a University for a short period in the 14th century. Some students and masters seceded from Oxford in 1333 and started a new seat of learning. This was suppressed on the personal intervention of Edward III, who had been petitioned by Oxford and Cambridge, who did not relish the competition.

A relic of this is the Brasenose knocker. The original is in Brasenose College at Oxford, but a replica can be seen in Stamford to this day.