The confidence we have in the quality of our stone stems directly from our heritage and the reputation built over centuries of quarrying.

The following timeline takes you on a brief journey through our past – simply click on each year to find out more.


45 – 75 AD – Traces of Roman workings have been found in “Old Quarry”

Clipsham Stone was used to build local villas, near to Ermine Street, on the route from London to Lincoln.

1363 – 1368 Records of Clipsham Stone in the building of Windsor Castle

The earliest recorded use of Clipsham Stone was for Windsor Castle between 1363 and 1368. Extraction is recorded as “Old Pits”, the medieval quarry on the Lincolnshire/Rutland county boundary.

1865 The Handley family takes over Clipsham Estate

John Handley, a banker and MP for Newark, purchased Clipsham Estate.  On his death the estate was inherited by the husband of his niece, William Davenport from Cheshire. A requirement of the inheritance was that William Davenport took the additional surname ‘Handley’. Clipsham Quarry Company remains in the same Davenport-Handley family today.

1870s – Architect Sir Thomas Jackson specifies the use of Clipsham Stone for prestigious Oxford colleges. Gilbert Scott selects our stone for Ely Cathedral

The architect Sir Thomas Jackson introduced Clipsham stone to Oxford in the 1870’s when he used it to build the Examination Schools and repair some of the pinnacles of the Bodleian (Old Schools) quadrangle.

Many of Oxford’s leading buildings were originally built or faced with the local Headington stone, which already, by the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was in need of restoration work. By comparison, it was reported in 1948 that ‘the stone used in 1876 for the Oxford Examination Schools is still as perfect as when if left the mason’s yard.’ Jackson went on to use Clipsham for the dressings of the New Quadrangle at Brasenose College. At Lincoln College the Grove Buildings and a wing south east of the Rector’s Lodge were both given Clipsham dressings.

Gilbert Scott, the architect, selected Clipsham for the battlements, cresting and turrets of the Octagon of Ely Cathedral

1902 – 1912 – Further Oxford landmarks are restored using Clipsham Stone

The Hawksmoor’s twin towers at All Souls, the top story of The Tom Tower and the west front of Christ Church were rebuilt using Clipsham Stone.

1920 – 1926 – Statue commissioned for Lincoln Cathedral

Clipsham Stone was used for the restoration of St George’s Chapel Windsor and for a life sized statue of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Saviour in Lincoln Cathedral.  This renowned statue, which still stands at the south porch of the Angel Choir of the Cathedral,  was commissioned by Mrs Hood of Nettleham Hall, in memory of her two sons and carved by Bridgeman and Son of Litchfield to the design of Mr Hare of London.

1926 -1931 – Clipsham Stone chosen for essential repairs to the Houses of Parliament

Lord Peel, First Commissioner of Works, also issued a memorandum entitled “Defective Conditions of the Stonework at the Houses of Parliament”. This report contained estimates of one million pounds to repair the stonework of a building less than 100 years old. The first stone had been laid in 1840. In 1931 work began on the restoration of the House of Commons, using Clipsham Stone.

1930s and 1940s – Quarries become an important way of life for skilled workers

The reputation and popularity for Clipsham Stone continued to grow with increasing demand from both the Government and the Universities. At this time the quarries employed as many as 80 men from local villages.

1933 – A Royal Visit to the quarry

Prince George, the 1st Duke of Kent, during a tour of the Forestry Labour Camps, visited Clipsham Quarries to see the source of stone used for the rebuilding of Westminster, and earlier, St. George’s Chapel Windsor.

1933 – 1939 – Clipsham Marble introduced for indoor use

During the Abyssinian troubles sanctions prevented the import of Italian marble, which prompted the quarries to open and work a small quarry known as Suties. It yielded a vein of very hard stone capable of taking a good polish, excellent for internal use but would not weather at all well. To avoid confusion with original Clipsham Stone it was sold as “Clipsham marble”. Over time however, it evidently became mixed up with the original Clipsham Stone in masons’ yards and was accidentally used externally. Rather than endanger the good name of Clipsham Stone, this pit was abandoned in 1939.

1940 -1945 – Quarry closes during WWII

With a shortage of quarry workers, the Clipsham quarries were all but closed.

1945 – 1950 – Restoring the House of Commons

The House of Commons suffered serious damage during the war. After much research, architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, together with geologists and other advisers recommended that Clipsham Stone was the best material to rebuild the Second Chamber. Their decision was announced to the Commons by Winston Churchill.

Strict deadlines were set for completion of the building by 1950, in time for the King’s opening ceremony on the 26th of October, placing exceptional targets on Clipsham quarries to achieve the required volume of output.

After consultation with David Davenport-Handley, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott appreciated that two and a half feet blocks would be much more efficient to extract without compromising on the quality of the rebuild.

With the House of Commons complete, Big Pits Quarry was largely worked out; no more block stone of quality appeared to be available and quarrying ceased.

1952 – 1982

A quiet period for the quarries during this time operations were  leased to a series of predominantly roadstone suppliers.   The seam of Clipsham block stone having apparently run out.

However, as the Old Quarry was extended westwards some quantities of high quality block stone began to appear again, and have continued to be discovered in increasing quantities.

1982 – 2005 – Bullimores Sand & Gravel take over the operating

A gradually more active phase for the quarry as block stone was once again discovered in increasing quantity.  During this period the day to day operation and management was carried  out by the operating company Bullimores Sand & Gravel.

2005- present day

Quarry management and operation once again taken over by the family with Bullimores continuining their long association with the quarry focussing on the producton of aggregates.

Now progressing well into the 21st century, Clipsham Stone continues to be in high demand, with approximately 1200 tons of top quality block stone being sold every year for cathedral and church repairs alone.

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Clipsham Quarry Company Limited, Registered No. 0786620 (England & Wales), Registered Office: Fernleigh, Castle Bytham, Grantham NG33 4RT