Oakham, the county town of Rutland, is a classic English market town, mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. At its heart is the historic Market Place, around which the town has grown. In this area you will find the Castle, Butter Cross and Stocks, the famous Oakham School and magnificent Parish Church.
Historic streets such as Northgate, Dean’s Street, Catmos Street and Mill Street focus on the market place which is also flanked by the High Street. Several of these streets now contain a variety of shops which attract visitors from quite some distances.
This is a great hall of a fortified manor house built for Wakelin de Ferrers between 1180-90.
It is recognised as one of the finest examples of domestic Norman architecture in England and is the earliest surviving example of an aisled stone hall in the country.
It contains over 200 horseshoes (pictured left) given as forfeits to the Lord of the Manor by peers of the Realm and Royalty passing through Oakham for at least 500 years, probably dating back to the 12th Century. The oldest surviving horseshoe is said to have been given by Edward IV around 1470, with the most recent being given by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in 2014.
This famous museum of farming and rural life was once the indoor riding school for the Rutland Fencible Cavalry, a volunteer regiment raised by the Noels in 1794.
It has spectacular roof trusses with central king posts, plus a paired crown-post arrangement supporting a wide roof span. It houses many interesting treasures both historical and archaeological with display and exhibits which include:
- Rural trades and rural life including: Brewery, wheelwrighting, blacksmithing, and an impressive range of agricultural exhibits (pictured right0
- Crime and punishment, including the only surviving New Drop Gallows in England
- The Brooke Reliquary
- And much more!
Founded in 1584 by Archdeacon Robert Johnson, the original Old School still stands in All Saints’ churchyard with inscriptions round the wall in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
The architecture of Oakham School is stunning, and a major landmark of the town – South of the church is the School Chapel and other buildings, with the majority being positioned north of Station Road. It is a highly regarded public school which has seen its fair share of famous pupils.
Oakham is steeped in history and a great way to see this beautiful town is by following the Oakham Heritage Trail, which navigates past:
- Butter Cross and Pump
- Oakham Castle
- Oakham School
- All Saints’ Church
- Dean’s Street
- Hudson’s Cottage ‘the smallest man from the smallest county in England’
- Oakham Signal Box
- The Chapel of St John and St Anne
- Flore’s House (one of the oldest houses in Oakham)
- The Market Place
- Rutland County Library
- Rutland County Museum
- Cutt’s Close (formerly an outer bailey of Oakham Castle and the site of the moat and fishponds can still be seen beyond the castle walls)
The Heritage Trail is free to download at www.discover-rutland.co.uk
If you like to shop, you will love the boutiques (designer labels and latest trends can be found along Mill Street and High Street), art galleries, antiques and the range of deli’s stocking local food and drink.
Or, if you’re in need of a relaxing beverage, Oakham has many cafes for a spot of afternoon tea, plus its very own brewery if you’re in need of something stronger.
Oakham is a real delight to stroll round as everything is within easy reach – It’s clear to see how Oakham gained its status as a highly desirable and unique place to shop.
In addition to great shops, Oakham holds a weekly market at Market Place on a Wednesday and Saturday where you’ll find a range of excellent local produce, such as meat, cheese, bread and eggs.
On the third Saturday of every month The Farmers’ Market is held in Gaol Street, providing a range of quality local goods direct from the producer to the public, ensuring freshness and fewer food miles.
Nearby Attractions – Rutland Water
Situated just a few miles from Oakham is Rutland Water, a reservoir set in 4200 acres of open countryside which was created in the 1970s.
Nowadays, it’s widely regarded as a leading centre for water and land based leisure activities and has year round appeal for fishermen, cyclists and bird watchers. Below is a selection of activities for everyone to enjoy:
Fishing & Watersports
Rutland Water attracts fishing enthusiasts from far and wide who come to fish for trout, pike and zander during the fishing season, which generally runs from April-December.
In addition to fly-fishing, Rutland Water is home to the largest inland sailing club in the UK and has fantastic facilities which were put to good use during the 2009 Special Olympics. Windsurfing, canoeing, raft building and sailing lessons are also available from the Water Sports Centre.
Walking & Cycling
Rutland Water is a haven for cyclists of all ages and abilities. The cycle friendly tracks around the shoreline are generally level and easy to negotiate and the views of the reservoir and beyond are amazing. The kiosks and cafes dotted around are the perfect place to stop off for ice creams and snacks on the way round.
Rutland is a wonderful place for walking all year round and each season brings its own palette of colours to the rolling countryside.
A selection of circular walks through some of the county’s prettiest villages are available to download from www.discover-rutland.co.uk
Wildlife & Nature
Rutland Water is internationally famous for being one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in Great Britain, holding 20,000 wildfowl on a regular basis. The 9 mile sanctuary covers 600 acres and includes 31 bird hides and nature trails.
Rutland Water is also home to the first Ospreys to breed in England for 150 years, after a translocation programme, and you can see them around the water during Spring.
Other attractions in Rutland
Food & drink trail
In Rutland, good food is a real passion and the county is widely regarded for its range of quality eateries. Award winning restaurants are plentiful; several are holders of one or more AA rosettes and all over the county you are never more than a short hop from the next great place to eat.
To find out more information on the best places to dine, visit the Discover Rutland website at: www.discover-rutland.co.uk
The widely renowned Tolethorpe Hall (pictured right), home to the much loved Stamford Shakespeare Company, offers magical performances of Shakespearean classics and family favourites in an open-air setting, with all the comfort of an indoor theatre.
A whole day could be spent at the award winning Barnsdale Gardens (pictured left); a highly regarded attraction in the region.
Explore 38 different garden designs and learn how to recreate your favourites, and then retreat to the inviting café for coffee and cake.
Rutland enjoys plenty of choice when it comes to playing golf as it has 6 clubs to choose from, all offering different courses to play.
To find out more information on the courses available, please visit the Discover Rutland website at: www.discover-rutland.co.uk