Rutland in humour...
As Rutland is the smallest of the English counties, it is sometimes used as the butt of some comedt characters.
Blackadder, (as played by Rowan Atkinson), for example, says this great line :
" If we lose, I'll be chopped into pieces. My arm'll end up in Essex, my torso in Norfolk and my genitalia stuck up a tree somewhere in Rutland ".
A generation ago, we were treated to the delights of 'Rutland Weekend Television', a pythonesque sketch show that was spoofing LWT 'London weekend television'.
This show also brillianty parodied the fab four, with its group 'The Rutles'. It's spoof albums include the folowing tracks :
I am the waitress
W.C Fields forever
All you need is lunch
Hello, get lost
All you need is cash
Hard day's rut
St Rutlers only darts club band.
People in Rutland County seem to be very proud of being the smallest county in England. We not only read it several places about town, but also heard references to it on the public radio.
This is a plaque hanging on an old thatched-roof house with a teeny-tiny door.
Belvoir Castle, Grantham
You need a car to visit this place and since I had one, we visited this castle. The Duke and Duchess of Rutland (stil) live here, in fact I saw them even when we left the grounds. They have opened their property partly to the public.
I liked to wander around the rooms and see the old glory and richness of the past. The parts we saw were kept well and looked very good.
During the season they have play acts and guided tours. We saw a story about the victorian kitchens. Queen Victoria was a personal friend of the then duchess of Rutland, if she visited there would be around 1300 people in the castle. They asked us to imagine what that would be like for the kitchen staff. Only to think about the organisation behind all that makes me dazzle!
Note: It wasn't allowed to take pictures inside. If you want to see the inside, you can see some at the website.
O my goodness!
I fully intended to make a page about Rutland, the smallest county in the UK, because Oakham is its county town.
But Rutland is not in the VT database!!
I assume this is because of its somewhat chequered recent past. It was, from 1974 to 1997, absorbed into Leicestershire as part of a 'rationalisation' programme of English county boundaries. The good citizens of Rutland were not in the least bit pleased about this. They were much happier when it regained its county status.
But the VT database must have been constructed when Rutland did not exist. :-(
So. What is there to know about Rutland?
It lies between Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire in the easterm Midlands of England.
It is the smallest county by far in terms of populations (around 35, 000) and very small in size: only 18 by 17 miles wide at its longest points.
There are only two towns, Oakham and Uppingham.
There is a vast body of water called 'Rutland Water', created in the 1970s as a reservoir by drowning farmland.
It is known as a well-off area, being 348th out of 354 on the national 'deprivation' index.
Rutland has existed as a separate county for a very long time, since at leat the early 1100s.
There is a Duke of Rutland, whose seat is Belvoir (pronounced 'beaver) Castle.
There are two public schools, lots of agriculture, a little discreet manufacturing industry, lots of 4x4 cars, a higher-than-average number of 'ladies-who-lunch' ... and no Macdonalds.
very small....only about 10000 people (a larger % than usual are older than 55)
lots of independent (and pricey) shops of the ladie's boutique/pretty things for the home/delicatessen/upmarket butcher variety
several charity (thrift) shops with good quality clothing for not over-the-top prices (lots of Marks and Spencer's stuff here)
pleasant architecture, small (and now very expensive) cottages built of local limestone or ironstone or brick
a castle, although only the 12th century hall now remains (used for weddings)
a 'buttercross' (see main photo) where....yes...butter was sold on marketdays
five-holed stocks under the buttercross (see tip). Why five holes? Goodness knows!
a rather lovely Medieval church (All Saints), dating from the late 1100s, with a 14th century tower and some superb stone carvings
The rather wonderful Norman Hall, the best-preserved in England and built in the late 1100s for Walkelin de Ferrers. Some lovely original carvings here too, although those on the exterior are sadly eroded. And inside......more than 200 'horseshoes' of all sizes, for every king, queen or peer of the realm who passes through Oakham must 'pay' a horseshoe as a kind of toll. One of them is supposed to have been given by Queen Elizabeth the First.
It may be only a very small town, but Oakham is worth an hour or two's exploration if you happen to be nearby.
"Oakham and Barnsdale"
Though we had only planned on stopping for a night at the Barnsdale Hall we ended up falling in love with the place and staying 5 days instead!
Oakham is the closest town to where we were staying, and it was a really fun and surprisingly bustling area.
This was the scene from the back patio of our time-share. We were spoiled with a beautiful view of the Rutland Water.
Of all of the places we visited, we enjoyed the food in Oakham the best of all.
This is Nate with a B.L.T. that he still talks about to this day.
This was at the Grainstore Brewery which hosts the local Oakham brews.
This is me looking out from the atrium into the beautiful gardens at the Barnsdale Lodge, just up the road from where we were staying.
We ate at this restaurant once at the beginning of the week, and liked it so much that we at there again on our final night in England.