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Oakham is the county town of Rutlandmarker, Englandmarker. It lies east from Leicestermarker, and has a total resident population of 9,975.

Oakham, which has civil parish status, lies to the west of Rutland Watermarker, one of the largest man-made lakes in Europe. It is in the Vale of Catmosemarker and the town itself is built on an incline, and varies from 99m above sea level (Ladywell area) to 122m above sea level (Brooke School area).

Governance

Local governance for Oakham is provided for by the single-tier unitary Rutland County Council District Council, of which Oakham is the headquarters.

Lying within the historic county boundaries of Rutlandmarker from a very early time, from 1974 until 1997, Oakham lay within the non-metropolitan county of Leicestershiremarker.

Oakham, along with Melton Mowbraymarker in Leicestershiremarker, and the rest of Rutlandmarker, has since 1992 been represented at Westminstermarker by the Conservative Member of Parliament Alan Duncan.

Landmarks

Tourist attractions in Oakham include All Saints Church and Oakham Castle. Another popular and historic feature is the open-air market held in the town's market square every Wednesday and Saturday (near the ancient octagonal Buttercross with its pyramidal roof and wooden stocks, a grade I listed building).

All Saints Church

The spire of Oakham parish church dominates distant views of the town for several miles in all directions. The impressive tower and spire, built during the 14th century in the "Decorated Gothic" style, are slightly earlier in date than most of the rest of the exterior of the building, which (apart from some Victorian restoration) is in the "Perpendicular Gothic" style. Oddly, the south doorway and its porch seem to be the oldest parts of the church, the doorway probably dating from the early 13th century with the porch having been added later that century.

In the light, spacious interior there is more evidence of the mature Decorated style of the 14th century. The tall, slender columns of the nave have intricately carved capitals showing animals, birds, figures, foliage and scenes from the Bible including Adam and Eve, the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the Annunciation and the Coronation of the Virgin Mary. There is also a fine Green Man.

It is a grade I listed building.

Oakham Castle

The great hall of Oakham Castle, with the spire of All Saints church beyond
Only the great hall of the Norman castle is still standing, and is surrounded by steep earthworks marking the inner bailey. The hall dates from c. 1180—90 and according to Nikolaus Pevsner (in his The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland):
"It is the earliest hall of any English castle surviving so completely, and it is doubly interesting in that it belonged not to a castle strictly speaking, but rather to a fortified manor house."
The building is attractively ornamented with Romanesque architectural details, including six carvings of musicians. It is a grade I listed building.

The hall was in use as an Assize court until 1970 and is still occasionally used as a Coroner's court or Crown Court. It is also licensed for weddings.

The outer bailey of the castle, still surrounded by low earthworks, lies to the north of the castle. Known as Cutts Close, it is now a park with a bandstand, skateboard area, flowerbeds and children's play area. Some deep hollows in the park are the remnants of the castle's dried-up stew ponds (fishponds).

A Castle class corvette named HMS Oakham Castle was launched in July 1944.


Oakham's horseshoes

Ceremonial horseshoes in Oakham Castle
Traditionally, members of royalty and peers of the realm who visited or passed through the town had to pay a forfeit in the form of a horseshoe. This unique custom has been enforced for over 500 years, but nowadays it only happens on special occasions (such as Royal visits), when an outsize ceremonial horseshoe, specially made and decorated, is hung in the great hall of the castle. There are now over 200 of these commemorative shoes on its walls. Not all are dated and some of the earliest (which would doubtless have been ordinary horseshoes given without ceremony by exasperated noblemen) may not have survived. The earliest datable one is an outsize example commemorating a visit by King Edward IV in about 1470. The horseshoes hang upside-down: while this is generally held to be unlucky, in Rutland this was thought to stop the Devil from sitting in the hollow. The upside-down horseshoe motif appears in the county council's arms (see to the right), and on the local Ruddles beer labels. Recent horsehoes commemorate visits by HRH The Princess Royal (1999), HRH The Prince of Wales (2003) and HRH Princess Alexandra (2005).

Transport



The Birmingham to Peterborough railway line runs through the town, providing links to Birminghammarker, Leicestermarker, Peterboroughmarker and Cambridgemarker. Oakham railway stationmarker is positioned approximately halfway between Peterborough railway stationmarker and Leicester railway stationmarker, at both of which passengers can board a train to Londonmarker - either from Leicester to London St Pancrasmarker or from Peterborough to London King's Crossmarker.

There are good road links to:

The main route for travellers to Leicester by road is first south to Uppinghammarker and then westward along the A47.

Oakham is on the A606 road between Melton Mowbraymarker and Stamfordmarker. On 10 January 2007, the A606 bypass opened diverting traffic from the town centre.

The Oakham Canalmarker connected the town to the Melton Mowbray Navigationmarker, the River Soarmarker and the national waterways system between 1802 and 1847.

Education

Oakham Buttercross, with some buildings of Oakham School beyond
The town is home to Oakham Schoolmarker, one of the major English public schools which was founded, together with Uppingham Schoolmarker, in 1584. The original school building survives, northeast of the church; across its south front is the inscription Schola Latina – Graeca – Hebraica A° 1584 and above its door is a stone with an inscription in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

Oakham School is also the current owner of Oakham's former workhouse. Built in 1836-7 by Oakham Poor Law Union, it served as a workhouse for 167 inmates, until it became Catmose Vale Hospital. It now accommodates two "day" (non-boarding) School Houses for girls.

The Catmose Collegemarker, founded in 1920, is a specialist visual arts college.

Rutland College, formerly Rutland Sixth Form College, lies on the outskirts of the town.

Sports and recreation

Oakham Rugby Football Club play at the Rutlandmarker Showground.

Also Oakham Imps Football clubs trains on the Oakham School astroturf adjacent to the railway and play their matches at the Catmose Collegemarker football pitches

Notable people



Street map




Gallery

All Saints Church

Image:Oakham_Church_and_cottage.jpg|All Saints Church seen from NorthgateImage:Oakham Church perspective corrected.jpg|All Saints Church from footpath between Church Street and Market PlaceImage:Oakham Church Interior.jpg|Interior of All Saints Church. View from north aisle looking southwest towards fontImage:Oakham Adam and Eve.jpg|Early 14th century stonecarving of the Expulsion from the Garden of EdenImage:Oakham Capital fox and geese.jpg|Early 14th century capital, showing fox and geese and other creaturesImage:Oakham Church capital Angel Gabriel.jpg|Early 14th century capital, showing the Angel Gabriel (detail of the Annunciation), left, and Adam and Eve between Christ and the Jaws of Hell (right)Image:Oakham Green Man capital.jpg|Early 14th century capital, showing a Green Man

Other buildings

Image:Oakhamfront.jpg|Oakham railway stationImage:OakhamStocks.jpg|The stocks, under the ButtercrossImage:OakhamInscription.jpg|Inscription above the Old School door

Cutts Close

Image:Oakham_Cutts_Close.jpg|Cutts Close park - looking southwest towards the original Oakham School building, with the bandstand to the right

References



External links




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