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Cmglee Oakham Cutts Close Park.jpg
Cutts Close Park, with All Saints' Church in the background
Oakham is located in Rutland
Population 10,922 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SK857088
Civil parish
  • Oakham
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town OAKHAM
Postcode district LE15
Dialling code 01572
Police Leicestershire
Fire Leicestershire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament
  • Rutland and Melton
List of places
52°40′14″N 0°44′00″W / 52.6705°N 0.7333°W / 52.6705; -0.7333

Oakham is the county town of Rutland in the East Midlands of England, 25 miles (40.2 km) east of Leicester, 28 miles (45.1 km) south-east of Nottingham and 23 miles (37.0 km) west of Peterborough. It had a population of 10,922 in the 2011 census, estimated at 11,191 in 2019. Oakham is to the west of Rutland Water, one of Europe's largest man-made lakes, and in the Vale of Catmose. Its height above sea level ranges from 325 ft (99 m) to 400 ft (120 m).


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

Cmglee Oakham Cutts Close Park
Cutts Close Park, with the All Saints' Church in the background

The impressive spire of Oakham parish church, built during the 14th century, dominates distant views of the town for several miles in all directions. Restored in 1857-58 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the church is a Grade I listed building.

Oakham Castle

Oakham Castle and church spire
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

Oakham Castle 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 and on the local Ruddle's beer labels. Recent horseshoes commemorate visits by Princess Anne (1999), Prince Charles (2003) and Princess Alexandra (2005).

Rutland County Museum

The museum is located in the old Riding School of the Rutland Fencible Cavalry which was built in 1794-95. The museum houses a collection of objects relating to local rural and agricultural life, social history and archaeology.


Oakham railway station providing good links to Peterborough, Leicester, Birmingham and Stansted Airport

The Birmingham–Peterborough line runs through the town, providing links to Birmingham, Leicester, Peterborough, Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Oakham railway station is positioned about halfway between Peterborough railway station and Leicester railway station, at both of which passengers can board trains to London – from Leicester to London St Pancras or from Peterborough to London King's Cross. There are also two direct services to London St Pancras (one early morning and one evening), and one evening return service from London St Pancras, each weekday.

There are good road links to Uppingham (6 miles), Melton Mowbray (10 miles), Stamford 11 miles, Leicester (25 miles) and Nottingham (29 miles).

The Oakham Canal connected the town to the Melton Mowbray Navigation, the River Soar and the national waterways system between 1802 and 1847.

Most buses in Oakham are operated by Centrebus including the Rutland Flyer to Melton Mowbray.

Sports and recreation

Oakham United Football Club won the Peterborough and District Football League in 2015 and gained promotion to the United Counties League First Division. It currently plays in the Peterborough & District League Premier Division.

Oakham Rugby Football Club plays at the Rutland Showground.

Oakham Cricket Club plays at the Lime Kilns off Cricket Lawns.

Street map

Oakham labelled
OpenStreetMap of Oakham



Women in the Oakham South East ward had the fifth highest life expectancy at birth, 95.7 years, of any ward in England and Wales in 2016.

The urban area of the town now extends into the neighbouring parish of Barleythorpe, to the north-west of the town centre.


Oakham Buttercross
Oakham Buttercross, with some buildings of Oakham School beyond

Oakham School is an English public school, founded together with Uppingham School in 1584. The original school building survives, north-east of the church. It has across its south front the inscription Schola Latina – Graeca – Hebraica A° 1584 and above its door a stone with an inscription in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

Oakham School is the current owner of Oakham's former workhouse. Built in 1836–1837 by the Oakham Poor Law Union, it held 167 inmates until its conversion into Catmose Vale Hospital. It now contains two of the school houses for girls.

Catmose College, founded in 1920, is a state-funded secondary school. Harington School is a sixth form centre next to it. Rutland County College, previously Rutland Sixth Form College, has moved from the outskirts of the town to Great Casterton.

Notable people

  • Stuart Broad (born 1986), cricketer
  • John Furley (1847–1909), cricketer
  • Sir Jeffrey Hudson (1619 – c. 1682) became a royal court dwarf.
  • Tom Marshall – artist and photo colouriser, grew up in Oakham.
  • Thomas Merton (1915–1968), a religious scholar, studied at Oakham School in 1929–1932.
  • Titus Oates (1649–1705), perjuror
  • Weston Stewart (1887–1969), Anglican bishop
  • Jonnie Peacock (born 1993), Paralympic runner

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Oakham para niños

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