The Tiny County of Rutland
By Hayley Dodwell
Deep in historic rural England in the East Midlands, is the beautiful County of Rutland. Which is England’s smallest County, with just two towns Oakham and Uppingham, plus many pretty villages.
In the center of this fairy-tale County is the hugely popular reservoir Rutland Water.
It’s a magical County, full of traditions, history and is one of England’s hidden gems of natural beauty. I often go there, and I can’t recommend enough how much it’s simply worth a visit, to explore and discover this English gem for yourself.
First let me take you to beautiful Oakham, a historic market town. Oakham is twenty-five miles away from the city of Leicester. It is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon, it’s like stepping back in time.
The town’s history is incredible, and the beauty of this town is picture postcard, an English town at its finest. It’s a treat to go there and enjoy everything it has to offer.
Oakham’s Town Center
In the center of Oakham is the Market Place, which regularly holds a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. You’ll find delightful stalls selling fruit, vegetables, flowers, local products, and all sorts of knick-knacks.
It’s friendly, welcoming, and naturally, you’ll be able to have a cup of tea, relax, and take all the scenery in.
Beyond Market Place, Oakham is simply a joy to wander around, with its pretty streets and old buildings. I asked the local lady, Mary, who has lived in Oakham for many years, what she loved most about the town? “Everything!” she replied! Well, I must say I agree with Mary.
You are spoiled for choice for refreshment stops, with cafes, restaurants, and bars. Fancy shopping, too? Then Oakham is the place to go with shops and boutiques, you’ll definitely find yourself a treat!
My top place to eat is Mill Street Pub & Kitchen 6 Mill Street, Oakham, LE15 – 6EA. Here they serve a fantastic selection of British food.
I especially love their Sunday lunches, which are served from 12 to 6 pm. Plus the Mill Street Pub & Kitchen offers accommodation. From Monday to Thursday based on two people sharing, bed and breakfast is £90 a night.
Friday and Saturday it is £130 per night. More information here or for general inquiries tel: 01572-729600.
I am forever impressed by Oakham’s very own Buttercross, which proudly stands in the Market Place.
It’s my personal choice of location for having my cup of tea! With stone seats to rest on and take in medieval history.
It’s an ancient octagonal Buttercross, dating from medieval times. Which was once where locally produced butter, milk, and eggs were sold.
It’s a Grade I listed building and it has certainly stood the test of time!
Plus, get this, also in the Buttercross you will find wooden stocks.
Yes, those stocks which were used as a punishment, where your feet were put in the stocks and you’d get pure public humiliation from food being thrown at you, or even worse, being hit or kicked.
But don’t get too excited, these days the wooden stocks are just for show.
All Saints Church
From afar, you can see the glorious view of All Saints Church, a stunning view in the skyline. The church is located just off the Market Place.
I was there a few days ago, the churchyard was full of beautiful flowers, which looked and smelt delicious! All Saints Church was built in the 14 century and it is a Grade I listed building.
A stone’s throw away from the Church is the famous Oakham School, which is a huge landmark within the town. The school dates back to 1584, founded by Archdeacon Robert Johnson.
With past pupils, including actor and comedian Miles Jupp, Alex Goode (the rugby union player who plays for the Saracens), an actor from The Twilight Saga and The Vampire Diaries, Charlie Bewley, and (former Rugby Union player) Tom Croft.
Oakham School is a Church Of England school, with day and boarding students, from the ages of ten to eighteen years old.
Oakham Castle is one of my most favorite historic buildings in the whole of England. It really is just a magical place. A Norman castle, which is another Grade I listed building, which Oakham proudly boasts. The castle dates back to 1180. The centuries for which the castle has stood always takes my breath away!
Within the castle, in the great hall, the walls are covered in horseshoes, each unique with its own story to tell. With well over two hundred horseshoes, given by people which include, royalty, earls, and dukes. An early horseshoe was left by King Edward IV in 1470. The horseshoes are an incredible sight to see, a must to go and see! You will be amazed by all the history within those castle walls.
I am a flutist and I was given the fantastic opportunity to play in the Castle, it was an incredible experience. Hearing my music echo around the walls gave me goosebumps!
Entry to the Castle is free and they are dog-friendly, so your pooch is more than welcome to go too! The Castle can be found at Castle Grounds, Market Place, Oakham, LE15-6DR. Tel: 01572-757578 or for more info drop them an email at [email protected] or have a look online www.oakhamcastle.org
Oakham has its very own train station, it is a quiet station of just two platforms and an hourly service. The station opened in Victorian times, in 1848. The Grade II listed building, the station house was designed by the architect, Edward Wood.
It’s fun to walk over the station’s footbridge and also to have a look at the nearby level crossing signal box building. If you travel to Oakham by train, the station is very conveniently close to the town center.
Six miles from Oakham is the picturesque market town of Uppingham. Uppingham is famous for its leading boarding school, Uppingham School. The school is for 13-18-year-olds, founded in 1584. My favorite place to eat in Uppingham is The Vaults, a traditional, friendly English pub.
With a great menu selection, at great prices. The food is delicious!
You’ll find The Vaults at 4 Market Place, Uppingham, LE15-9QH. Tel: 01572-823259. Go to their website for a look at the great menu selection and prices.
Not far from Oakham you will find Rutland Water, one of the largest man-made lakes in Europe built between 1971-1975. Rutland Water is a day trip within itself! It is stunningly beautiful. Perfect for walkers, cyclists, or to take a picnic and just relax.
Normanton Church is spectacular to see, it appears to float on the water. This building was scheduled to be demolished in 1970 when plans for the reservoir were being made. Thankfully there was a public outcry to save this beauty of a building!
I have been to Rutland Water many times, and I love to watch the boats on the water. It is perfect to take your dog to as well, though watch out for cyclists! Rutland Water is wonderful if you want to just relax, unwind and get some nature in your soul. www.rutlandwater.org.uk.
Barnsdale Hall Hotel
The stunning Barnsdale Hall Hotel has breathtaking views over Rutland Water, in a lovely, peaceful rural location. The Hotel is 2 miles from Oakham. It’s the perfect Hotel for some pampering recharging your batteries.
A blissful treat of a place! A standard double room based on two people sharing starts at £70 a night, with breakfast included. To enquire further Tel: 01572-757901. Or look online www.barnsdalehotel.co.uk
Rutland is a gem in England’s crown. A traditional old English County. A place not to be missed. A county full of pride, alive in events, activities, and history. A must to be explored!
Hayley Dodwell is a freelance writer, from Leicestershire, England. She has done articles for numerous websites including, Eighties Kids, Vocal, Online Book Club, HubPages, Child of the 1980s and ScreenHub Entertainment.
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