Pictures of Oakham
in the county of Rutland
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For centuries the countryside around Oakham has echoed to the sound of hunting horns, for the vales and rolling farmland surrounding this sedate market town, have been the stamping ground for the counties hunting fraternity. And maybe it is this that has left Oakham almost untouched by the hand of time.
The town has a long history, it's name goes back to the time of the Saxon Lord "Occa", later there was a medieval town here, but all that remains of this is the 12th century banqueting hall of the castle built by Walkelin de Ferrers. The hall contains a fascinating collection of horse shoes, given to the lord of the manor as a gesture for the hospitality received by the monarchs, peers, great and the good of centuries.
Visitors to Oakham will soon find that residents are proud of the fact that this was once the county town of England's smallest county. However, all that changed in 1974 when overnight old counties disappeared forever, and Rutland was merged with Leicestershire. Fortunately this caused little disruption, the charm and character of the town remain as can be seen in its many beautiful buildings. These include the original 16th-century buildings of Oakham school, and the beautiful building of The Whipper-In, a former 17th century coaching inn.
To the east of the town lies what is now known as Rutland Water. At its interception some 28 years ago, the reservoir was known as Empingham Reservoir. This is the largest man made lake Britain, it is as big as Windermere, with a 24 mile perimeter. The reservoir is not simply a supply resource, but a place for leisure and pleasure, it offers fishing, sailing and other water-sports, and visitors can find pleasant picnic spots dotted around the shore-line.
When the reservoir was built, the medieval church of St. Matthew was saved by raising it 3 meters above the water. The building was closed for a while to enable preservation work to be carried out, it was finally re-opened in 1986 as a museum by Anglican Water. The museum records the history of the reservoir and is one of the regions most visited attractions.
Oakham is also the home of Rutland County Museum. This museum is housed in a fine 18th century building which was formerly the Riding School for the Rutland Fencible Cavalry, it now offers visitors a glimpse into the rural and agricultural history of Rutland, displays many relics from past centuries and offers the opportunity to see changing exhibitions of work by local artists. It is an interesting place to view, with something for every member of the family.
Interestingly, Oakham was the birthplace of Titus Oates (1649-1705) who was pivotal to the Popish Plot of 1684. It was also the home of dwarf Jeffrey Hudson who is said to have been only 18" high and who at 9 years of age is reputed to have been "served" to Charles I and Queen Henrietta in a cold pie during a hunt in 1628. The Queen immediately appointed Jeffrey to the position of Royal page, he died in 1682 after a reasonably long life.
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