Sir Walter Scott regularly journeyed down The Great North Road to London from his Scottish home, staying en route in Lincolnshire at the George Inn in Stamford. Scott much admired;
"the finest stone town in England", and once described the view from outside the George looking north toward the town bridge and beyond as ''the finest 'twixt Edinburgh and London.''
Scot travelled by stage coach - one of the 40 (20 ''up'' and 20 ''down'') that thundered in and out of the George's courtyard every day, To the right and left, just inside the entrance to the hotel, are two old panelled rooms with doors marked London and York respectively which were the waiting rooms for coach passengers. At this time the main entrance for coaches was at the north side of the hotel where they entered between pillars into what is now the Dining Room, and under an arch through into the hotel yard.
Scotts 1818 novel Heart of Midlothian was inspired by a true story. It is a simple tale of deep faith, tremendous courage, and family loyalty with a strong female protagonist, years ahead of her time. When her younger sister is accused of murdering her new born child and is condemned to die only Jeanie Deans can save her life. Within hours of the news she leaves Scotland on the long and dangerous journey to London, in the slight hope of obtaining a royal pardon. Jeanie completes the first half the journey on foot but in chapter 33 we read she finds some kindly help:
"At Stamford our heroine was deposited in safety by her communicative guide. She obtained a place in the coach, which, although termed a light one, and accommodated with no fewer than six horses, only reached London on the afternoon of the second day."
The Georges gallows sign divning the road from the south was put up in the 18th century as a welcome to honest travellers and a warning to highwaymen. Standing for 1,000 years by the river crossing, the George continues a tradition begun by the Knights of St. John at the time of the Crusades when they founded a hostelry here for pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem. The crypt of their House of the Holy Sepulchre now runs under the cocktail bar.