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18 Best Things to Do in Grantham, England

Looking for fun things to do in Grantham, England? From historic country houses to peaceful parks, here are the best activities Grantham has to offer.

Located in southwest Lincolnshire, the small town of Grantham has two notable claims to fame: it is where Sir Isaac Newton went to grammar school and discovered gravity not far away, and it’s the birthplace of Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female prime minister.

It’s also where the University of Evansville has it’s British campus, which is how I found myself studying abroad in Grantham for four glorious months. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Grantham, then read on!

Grantham, England

Top Things to Do in Grantham

1. Harlaxton Manor

Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, England

Harlaxton Manor is set in the village of Harlaxton just 2 miles from Grantham. In 1837 Gregory Gregory built this manor, combining architectural elements of Jacobean, Elizabethan, and Baroque styles. Almost everything in the manor is manufactured to look original and one-of-a-kind, even though it’s not.

As great houses usually do, it passed through the family, fell into disrepair, and then was reclaimed by Violet Van der Elst in 1935. During WWII, the Royal Air Force used the manor as an officers’ mess and housing. In 1948, the Jesuits bought the home, then in 1965 they sold it to Stanford University, and then in 1971 the University of Evansville began using it as their British campus.

Living at Harlaxton Manor and studying abroad is such a huge draw for students to UE that a majority of students go to Harlaxton (myself included!).

If you want to visit Harlaxton Manor, you can call ahead and schedule a visit. They also occasionally offer open house days to the public. You can tour the house and the extensive grounds and gardens; it’ll give you major Downton Abbey vibes.

2. The Workhouse, Southwell

Workhouse in Southwell, England

The Workhouse in Southwell is a little bit out of the way of Grantham, about a 40 minute drive, but it’s well worth the visit.

A workhouse is a place the Victorian poor would go as a last resort. It was a place for unemployed workers, and those who were unable to work, to receive relief from the state. By the 1830s, workhouses were seen to be breeding idleness in workers, and the New Poor Law of 1834 made conditions in workhouses more harsh in the hopes of deterring all but the most destitute.

The Workhouse is the best preserved example of a workhouse in England, and with a tour of the workhouse, you get a glimpse into the inmates’ lives and the harsh working conditions there.

If you can, pair a visit to The Workhouse with your visit to Harlaxton Manor. A look at the two gives a great illustration of the upstairs-downstairs dichotomy of Victorian England.

3. St Wulfram’s Church

St Wulfram's Church, Grantham, England

St Wulfram’s Church has the 6th tallest spire in England at 282.5 feet, the 4th highest of any parish church, the 3rd highest of any Anglican parish church in the UK, and the 2nd highest in Lincolnshire.

Besides having a really tall spire, St Wulfram’s Church is also steeped in history. The church is Saxon in origin, but Normans totally altered the structure. You can see some of the remains of the Norman church still in the nave. Much of the current stonework is from the 13th through 16th centuries.

The church also has England’s first “public library.” It was the first library in England to be in the property of a civic authority rather than a church or school, even though it is located within a church. To prevent against theft, the books in this library were kept in chains. More than 80 volumes are still chained up today.

4. Walking Tour of Grantham

Charles Dickens Plaque, Grantham, England

One of the best things to do in Grantham to get to know the city is take a walking tour. You can book a guided tour of the town, or you can take your own self-guided walking tour.

There’s a lot of history in Grantham, and one of the easiest ways to create your own tour is to follow the Blue Plaque Trail that lays out the famous people who have passed through, like Charles Dickens who stayed in The George Inn (now the George Centre shopping mall) while researching Nicholas Nickleby, or Thomas Paine who also lived at The George Inn for a time.

Just look for the circular blue plaques placed on buildings around Grantham.

5. Belton House

Belton House, Grantham, England
Belton House, Karen Roe, (CC by 2.0) via flickr

Belton House is a classic English country house and one of the prettiest things to do in Grantham. It was built between 1685 and 1687 in the finest Restoration style. Until 1984, the house was the seat of the Brownlow family. Now it is run by the National Trust.

At the home, you can see many features that were innovative at the time, like sash windows and a cast iron orangery. Inside the home, you’ll find a collection of silver and porcelain as well as a world-renowned library.

You won’t want to miss the library’s collection of 6,000 volumes, the massive canvases by the 17th-century Dutch painter Melchior d’Hondecoeter, or the Queen’s Room that was decorated for a visit by Queen Adelaide, William IV’s widow.

6. Belton Park

Park and Gardens at Belton House, Grantham, England
Belton House, Karen Roe, (CC by 2.0) via flickr

The park and gardens at Belton House are impressive in their own rights. The 1,300 acres of park includes the ancient deer park, grazing sheep, ponds, and woodlands.

In 1690, the Brownlows were granted permission to transform 1,000 acres into a park to keep deer. They laid out the park with avenues leading from the house, an large pond, and thousands of trees.

You’ll definitely want to stop by the Italian Garden to see the Orangery. The gardens and park also include a fountain, a historic wilderness and arboretum, and a large adventure playground with miniature train rides.

7. Woolsthorpe Manor

Woolsthorpe Manor and Newton's Apple Tree, Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, England
Bs0u10e01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Woolsthorpe Manor is not a far trip from Grantham. This was the birthplace and family home of Sir Isaac Newton.

It was here, under the famed apple tree, that Newton was said to have discovered gravity.

A tour of Woolsthorpe Manor takes you through Newton’s childhood, offers a visit to the hands-on Science Center where you can experience Newton’s science for yourself, and lets you see the Flower of Kent apple tree still growing in the orchard. (You can also see at descendent of this same tree at the University of Cambridge where Newton studied.)

8. Grantham Museum

The Grantham Museum is the perfect place to learn about the history of the town. It is located in at 1926 building that also previously housed the public library.

Inside the museum, you’ll find extensive exhibits on Grantham notables like Sir Isaac Newton and Margaret Thatcher, as well as Edith Smith (the first female police officer in the UK with full power of arrest) and the Dambusters Raid (an attack on German dams carried out during WWII).

Outside the museum, you’ll find an impressive statue of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

9. Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle, Grantham, England
FASTILY, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nearby Belvoir Castle is the stately seat of the Duke of Rutland. There has been a castle on this site since 1066, but the castle you see today was rebuilt in the 19th century in the Gothic Revival style. It has a medieval motte-and-baily design, as well as a distinctive central tower that is reminiscent of Windsor Castle.

The name “Belvoir” means “beautiful view” in Norman French. But since the Anglo-Saxons, who spoke Middle English, couldn’t pronounce the name, they ended up calling it “Beaver Castle”, which is still how the name is pronounced today.

Inside the castle are many priceless works of art. You’ll see so much with a tour through the lavish state rooms, the Elizabeth Saloon, the Regents Gallery, and the State Dining Room.

You don’t want to miss a stroll through the gardens, either. They were built in 1799 and cover over 16,000 acres with a Japanese Woodland, the Duchess Garden, and an Adventure Playground.

Belvoir Castle is also famous for its Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea originated at Belvoir Castle when Anna, Duchess of Bedford, was visiting the castle and started taking light refreshments and tea between lunch and dinner. You can take tea in the Regency-style Aviary Tearoom.

10. Wyndham Park

Ken Beam memorial bench at Wyndham Park, Grantham, England
We Never Lose the Ones we Love, Matt Brown, (CC by 2.0) via flickr

Wyndham Park is an oasis on the banks of the River Witham. This top-tier park holds the green Flag Award, Green Heritage Site Accreditation, and is protected by the Fields in Trust “Centenary Fields”.

This park is a great place to escape to nature in Grantham.

Walk along the Riverside Walk, hire a bicycle to explore the greenery, or have tea in the cafe. There are family-friendly facilities like a toddlers play area, paddling pool, playing fields, and tennis courts. There is also a sensory garden for the visually impared.

11. River Witham

The Riverside Walk along the River Witham is a lovely thing to do in Grantham. This riverside path extends for over 2 miles through the town’s three public parks and open grassy areas.

This is a great walk right in the middle of Grantham.

Follow the river from the Dysart Park in the south, through Wyndham Park about midway, and to Queen Elizabeth Park in the north. The walking trail crosses over the river at a couple points.

12. Easton Walled Gardens

Snowdrops in Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham, England
Easton Walled Gardens, Amanda Slater, (CC by-SA 2.0) via flickr

The Easton Walled Gardens offer another great outdoor activity in Grantham. These restored 400-year-old gardens sit on 12 acres.

You’ll want to stroll through the snowdrops, sweat peas, roses, and meadows. The gardens also feature a turf maze, yew tunnel, and bird hide.

Have Afternoon Tea in the tearoom and shop the gift shop for unique souvenirs and plants to take home with you.

13. Grantham Canal

Ducks on Grantham Canal, Grantham, England
Grantham Canal, Matthew Black, (CC by -SA 2.0) via flickr

The 33 miles of Grantham Canal were a very successful way to transport coal from 1797 through 1841. The Grantham Canal Society have been working since the 1970s to restore the canal.

Around the canal, they have set up walking and cycling routes, you can go angling on the canal, and you can even discover the canal on a boat trip and cruise.

14. Grimsthorpe Castle

Grimsthorpe Castle, Bourne, England
Wehha, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nearby in Bourne, Grimsthorpe Castle is a must-visit estate in the heart of Lincolnshire.

Grimsthorpe Castle has been the seat of the de Eresby family since 1516. The building began as a fortified castle built around 1140. The Baroque facade you see today was added in the early 18th century by Sir John Vanbrugh.

A tour of the castle allows you inside the lavish rooms, including the Vanbrugh Hall, the Chinese Drawing Room, the Chapel, the State Dining Room, the King James Room, the Tapestry Drawing Room, and the Gothic Bedroom.

The country home also sits on 3,000 acres of parkland and gardens landscaped by Capability Brown. There are deer roaming the grounds, a hedged rose garden, and a summerhouse.

15. Ellys Manor House

Ellys Manor House, Grantham, England
Great Ponton Manor House, Richard Croft, via Wikimedia Commons

Ellys Manor House is a 15th-16th century manor house that was built by wool merchant Anthony Ellys.

The house is unique in that it was built in the Flemish style. Ellys traded wool between England and Flanders and was clearly very impressed by Flemish architecture.

Another unique feature of the home is its early 16th century wall paintings, described by architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as, “a rare English interpretation of French verdure tapestries”. They are said to be the most extensive domestic 16th century decoration in the country.

16. Guildhall Arts Centre

The Guildhall Arts Centre is housed in Grantham’s old town hall, jail, and sessions hall.

The new Guildhall and jail had to be built in 1866 after criminal Jesse Dale walked out of the town’s original jail twice!

At this arts centre, you can see amateur theatre productions, professional touring shows, and an annual Christmas pantomime. You can also take workshops, attend fairs, and attend conferences.

17. Ancaster Leisure

Ancaster Leisure is a huge outdoor activity center with family-friendly fun like go-karting, bowling, paintballing, laser tag, archery, and Airsoft.

You can have an entire day filled with fun at Lincolnshire’s largest outdoor and indoor activity center. All the gear and equipment you’ll need for your day of fun will be provided for you.

18. Fulbeck Craft Centre

If you’re interested in craft and artisanal skills, then you’ll love a visit to the Fulbeck Craft Centre.

The stables at Fulbeck Manor have hosted a craft centre for more then three decades.

Local crafters make and sell their own products here. They also teach their skills on site. As well as these crafters, you can shop the Old Coach House Store for unique gifts and dine at the Crafty Cafe.

Things to Do in Grantham Map

Ready to explore these top things to do in Grantham, England? Use the map below to plan out your visit.

I hope you enjoyed discovering all these fun Grantham activities!

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4 Things to Do in Grantham, England

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