High Street East
The commercial properties of the High Street run largely from the Town Hall in the east to the Market Place in the west, and then across the A6003 pelican crossing to High Street West. There is interest at three different (eye) levels.
Many of the shops in the High Street and Market Place have large cellars that extend into the street, and it is mythologised that it would be possible to travel the length of the high street underground by demolishing cellar walls! The cellar at No 24 (currently a carpet shop) is said to have been a base for making Stilton Cheese, and at the beginning of the C20 the building was called ‘Stilton House’. At eye level, many of the shops have retained original frontages, and go to great lengths to provide interesting window displays, whilst a glance upward will reveal a host of architectural features with period windows and at least 3 sundials.
Towards the eastern End of the High Street , near to the Town Hall, can be found ‘Sundial House’ – the clue to its location can be found in its name . Just look up!
The Tudor origins of this house, as demonstrated by its timber frame hall, offers a hint that the High Street has a clear history from at least 1500. William Camden visited Uppingham in 1580 and declared that ‘Uppingham hath but one street, which though not elegant, is not despicable’ Similar Tudor dated evidence has been found in buildings in Hopes Yard (site 20) and in High Street West.
Very few towns the size of Uppingham have such a fine set of stone built shops in the Georgian style still remaining. The High Street must have originally been much wider as these buildings were largely Georgian facades built in front of the original older buildings.
Good examples of such Georgian style buildings on the south side of the street are ‘Culpins’ the Butchers, ‘Murrays Estate Agency’ and the ‘Lake Isle’ restaurant, whilst on the north side look out for ‘Martins’ paper shop and the ‘Crown Inn’. Do take the time to glance up and enjoy the ‘upstairs’ architecture. There are lots more to spot!
It is interesting to note that until 30 years ago this street was 2 way, as the level of car ownership at that time enabled the street to function properly as both a thoroughfare and a place to park cars (and bicycles!) Uppingham can consider itself lucky that its planners and shop property owners have worked together to help maintain its individualism and architecture and largely resist incoming chains whilst not fossilising into a museum piece.