South Gate, Sleaford
Sleaford is a sizeable town in southern Lincolnshire. The 13th century parish church of St Denis is as large as a cathedral, and boasts an early 15th century rood screen. A pleasant walk along the Slea River brings you to the restored Cogglesford Mill, where there has been a watermill for over 1000 years.

St Denys Church

Sleaford's parish church was begun around AD 1180, but there was almost certainly a church on the site since the late 11th century. The broach spire was added in 1200, making it one of the oldest such spires in England. Inside the church the oldest historic features are the 14th century nave, aisles, and north transept. Other highlights include a 15th century rood screen and a communion rail thought to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Look for the ornate memorials of the Carre family, lords of the manor throughout the 17th century.

To the north of the churchyard is the Vicarage, one of the oldest buildings in Sleaford, with a timber-framed main block built in the 15th century.

In the market place is the Sessions House, where the Magistrate's Court met. The building was designed by London architect H.E. Kendall in 1831. Also in the market place is the Bristol Memorial Fountain, built in 1874 by Charles Kirk in honour of Frederick Hervey, 2nd Marquis of Bristol, lord of the manor of Sleaford. A much earlier lord of the manor was Charles Carre, who in 1636 established Carre's Hospital on the corner of Eastgate and Carre streets, to house a dozen local men.

Another heritage treasure is Cogglesford Mill, on the eastern edge of the town. The mill dates to around 1750, though it seems likely there was a mill on this spot since the Saxon period. The mill is restored to working order and is operated by the North Kesteven District Council, who host regular events days where you can watch grain being ground in the traditional way and purchase fresh flour.

On Southgate Street is the Bull and Dog pub, built in 1689. The Bull and Dog has reputedly the oldest pub sign in England, featuring a scene of bull-baiting - a subject also thought to be unique in the country.

Sleaford Castle

Almost nothing remains of this medieval stronghold beyond a low section of crumbling wall. The castle was begun around 1123 by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln and was used primarily to administer the Bishop's estates. The only real moment when Sleaford Castle entered the spotlight of history was in October 1216. King John, fresh from losing his baggage train and royal jewels in his ill-advised crossing of The Wash, stayed at Sleaford Castle overnight. The king would only live a few more days after leaving Sleaford. The castle was maintained throughout the medieval period but fell into decay in the 16th century. The only easily visible remnant is now a bit of wall in the north-east corner of the inner bailey.

Money's Mill

One of the most distinctive buildings in Sleaford is Money's Mill, a six-storey tower mill built sometime prior to 1798 beside the Slea Navigation canal. The Grade-II listed mill had 4 sails, and stayed in operation until the 1890s. It was used for a time by the local tourist information office, then near-derelict mill was rescued from decay in 2007 and restored as a popular cafe.

Handley Memorial

Modelled after the medieval Eleanor Crosses erected by Edward I is this exuberant piece of Victorian architecture, a striking tower commemorating the local MP, Henry Handley, who died in 1846. Handley was a successful entrepreneur, involved in the Slea Navigation project. Curiously, it was not erected to commemorate his death, but rather it was begun as a mark of respect after Handley resigned his post in Parliament in 1841. At the base is a standing figure of Handley by sculptor John Thomas, set under a crocketted canopy.