ABOUT OAKHAM, RUTLAND
The market town of Oakham lies midway between the market towns of Melton and Stamford, and is the main town in England’s smallest County, Rutland. Oakham is laid out as a traditional market town. It retains much of its historical feel, especially from medieval times. There are many hidden gems as you walk around the town.
The name Oakham has changed through history. It is thought that its name comes from the name of a Saxon lord called Occa. Around the 11th Century it was known as Ocheham but by the 12th Century seems to have evolved into Hocham. Then in the 13th Century the common-use spelling changed to Ocham and Okham sometime during the 17th Century. Okeham was also an alternative spelling used between the 15th and 17th Century. The current day spelling, Oakham, starts appearing in the 18th Century.
The manor and castle of Oakham was part of the dowry of Edith wife of Edward the Confessor in the middle of the 11th Century. It was taken from Edith in 1075 when William the Conqueror took control of it. The manor and the castle remained in royal hands. It was not called a castle until the 13th century. Previously it appears to have been a fortified manor-house surrounded by an earth bank with a ditch around it.
The Castle still exists in part today as one of the finest examples of domestic Norman architecture in England. It houses a collection of ornamental horseshoes that have been left by each peer on their first visit to Oakham – this represents a continued forfeit demanded by the Lord of the Manor of Oakham.
By 1249 the town had grown and at that time had a Market. In the 14th and 15th centuries it became prosperous because of the wool trade. Further developments included the opening of the Melton to Oakham canal in 1803. The Midland Railway completed the railway and the town Station in 1848.
The Market Square is clearly shown on John (Iohan) Speede’s map of 1610. It still has The Butter Cross and the Old Pump. The Butter Cross dates back to before 1611 when it was first recorded, and the Old Pump appears to date back to the 19th Century.
At the heart of the town is Oakham School, which is an ancient institution that was founded by Archdeacon Robert Johnson in 1584.
In 1887 Oakham was described in John Bartholomew’s Gazetteer of the British Isles as:
“Oakham, market town, par., and county town of Rutland, 13½ miles W. of Stamford and 96 miles from London by rail – par., 3130 ac., pop. 3227; town (comprising the townships of Oakham Deanshold and Oakham Lordshold), pop. 3204; P.O., T.O. Market-days, Thursday and Saturday. Oakham is situated in the fine vale of Catmose, and is a healthy and well kept town. Its trade is chiefly in coal, corn, and malt; while there are considerable mfrs. of boots and shoes, and fancy hosiery. Brewing is also carried on. Oakham is the assize town of Rutland.”
This follows Central Government Policy, which is actively encouraging communities to take responsibility for the development of their environment. The Neighbourhood Plan will become legally binding when accepted through a community referendum at the end of what is expected to be a 2 to 3 year process of research and consultation.
Rutland County Council has now approved a submission to go ahead with a Neighbourhood Plan.
Throughout the next 2 years, residents and businesses will be consulted about topics such as the location and types of residential housing, areas for commercial and industrial activities, transport links, roads, the high street, schools, healthcare, leisure and community facilities, open spaces and environmental issues.
Listening to what is important to members of the community is the most critical part of developing your Neighbourhood Plan so the Steering Group will be inviting contributions from local groups, charities, businesses, places of worship, schools, medical practitioners, developers, environmental and planning specialists as well as residents. If you would like to add yourself or a group to our list of contacts, please let us know.
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Oakham Town Council has formed a Steering Group drawn from the local community who expressed an interest at recent public awareness events. Together, they will develop a Neighbourhood Plan for Oakham and Barleythorpe in full consultation with residents, businesses and interested parties.