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Royal and historic landmarks

Journey through the Royal and historic landmarks of Rutland and its borders

Nestled in the heart of England, Rutland is the smallest county in the UK, but it brims with a wealth of royal and historic connections. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking to explore picturesque English countryside, Rutland and its surroundings offer a treasure trove of experiences.

1. A First! – Queen Elizabeth II Statue

The largest of Rutand’s two county towns, Oakham is the site of the first ever statue of our late and revered Queen Elizabeth II which a few hundred yards from the Inn. The seven-foot-tall bronze statue by Hywel Pratley captures the softer side of the Queen with three corgis at her feet and adorned in elegant robes. Recently unveiled by the Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh the exquisite detail and artistry beckon to be witnessed first-hand.

2. Oakham and its Castle

One of the most prominent historic sites in Rutland is Oakham Castle. Built between 1180 and 1190, it is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in England. The castle’s Great Hall is renowned for its unique collection of ceremonial horseshoes, a tradition that dates back to the 12th century when local nobility and royalty, including Richard III and Henry VIII, would donate horseshoes upon their visit. The latest addition to the collection was a double horseshoe, courtesy of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh on their visit to see the bronze of Queen Elizabeth II.

3. Rutland Water

Rutland Water is not only a stunning nature reserve but also steeped in history. The reservoir, created in the 1970s, is home to Normanton Church, a partially submerged church that dates back to the 14th century. This historic site offers a unique glimpse into the past, having been preserved and turned into a museum. The area is perfect for a leisurely stroll, cycling, or even sailing, fishing and bird watching with the serene backdrop adding to its charm.

4. Burghley House

A short drive from Rutland takes you to Burghley House, one of the grandest surviving houses of the 16th century. Built by Sir William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, Burghley House is a masterpiece of Elizabethan architecture. Visitors can explore its magnificent rooms, filled with a rich collection of art and antiques, and stroll through its beautifully landscaped gardens.

5. Rockingham Castle

Perched on a hill overlooking the Welland Valley, Rockingham Castle is another historic gem near Rutland. Originally built by William the Conqueror, this castle has witnessed nearly 1,000 years of history. It was a royal retreat for numerous kings, including Edward III and Henry VIII. Today, it remains a private residence but is open to the public for tours, offering insights into its storied past.

6. Belvoir Castle

Further afield, Belvoir Castle stands as a testament to Regency grandeur. The ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland, this majestic castle has hosted royalty for centuries. The current structure, completed in the early 19th century, boasts opulent interiors and expansive gardens. Belvoir Castle frequently hosts events and provides guided tours that delve into its rich history and royal connections.

7. Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester

Just a short drive from Rutland, the Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester offers a fascinating exploration of the life and legacy of King Richard III. The museum is located near the site where his remains were discovered in 2012. Interactive exhibits and compelling displays provide insights into the tumultuous period of the Wars of the Roses and Richard III’s controversial reign, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

8. Historic Figures

Rutland has been home to several notable historic figures. Titus Oates, infamous for his role in the Popish Plot, a fabricated Catholic conspiracy, was born in Oakham in 1649. His scandalous and ultimately discredited accusations led to a wave of anti-Catholic sentiment and executions in the late 17th century. Additionally, Jeffrey Hudson, known as “Lord Minimus,” was a famous court dwarf in the service of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I. Born in Oakham, Hudson’s life was filled with adventure and intrigue, making him a fascinating figure in Rutland’s rich history.

9. Historic Market Towns

Rutland’s market towns, such as Oakham and Uppingham, are steeped in history. Oakham, the county town, features a 14th-century church and a charming market square which still hosts an open air market every Wednesday and Saturday. Uppingham is known for its well-preserved historic buildings and Uppingham School, founded in 1584. Strolling through these towns offers a glimpse into Rutland’s past and its enduring heritage.

Conclusion

Rutland and its surrounding areas are a delightful blend of scenic beauty and historical significance. From ancient castles and stately homes to charming market towns and serene landscapes, the region offers a captivating journey through England’s royal and historic legacy. Whether you’re exploring the Norman architecture of Oakham Castle, the grand halls of Burghley House, or the intriguing exhibits at the Richard III Visitor Centre, Rutland promises a rich tapestry of experiences for every visitor.

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The George Inn, Market Place Oakham, Rutland LE15 6DT