Wansford - or, as one sometimes still sees the old name spelt, Wandesford - is a village on the Great North Road, not so very far off Stamford. The land surrounding Wansford is mostly arable and of declining quality and the roads thereabouts very variable - some poor, some good and safe. A fair stone-built bridge crosses the Nene at Wansford, but alas, there is a toll to pay.

Though there is a fine paper manufactory to be seen there is perhaps little else to detain the traveller in Wansford, beyond the excellent inn, The Haycock. This is a large house of some antiquity where coaches put up to change horses, and where the weary passenger can pause to refresh himself - as does Mr.Norrell on his last journey north. It is in a bed-chamber of the Haycock Inn that he has a presentiment of his future fate[63].

The village is sometimes puzzlingly referred to as 'Wansford-in-England', and a humorous tale attaches to this. According to a verse much repeated in the vicinity, a man who had drunk too merrily fell asleep on a haycock and was caught by the sudden rising of the River Nene. As he floated downstream the astonished inhabitants called out to him from the banks to know where he was from? And had he sailed from abroad? No no, he assured them stoutly, he was from Wansford Bridge in England:
On a Hay-cock sleeping soundly,
Th' River rose and tooke me roundly
Downe the current; people cryed,
Sleeping, down the streame I hyed;
Where away, quoth they, from Greenland?
No; from Wansforth-brigs in England

It is from this droll tale apparently that the Haycock (which once was called The Swan) has now taken its name.