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Coordinates: 52°40′14″N 0°44′00″W / 52.6705°N 0.7333°W / 52.6705; -0.7333
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Cutts Close Park in Oakham, with All Saints' Church in the background (September 2012)
Oakham is located in Rutland
Location within Rutland
Population12,149 (2021 Census)
OS grid referenceSK857088
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Areas of the town
Post townOAKHAM
Postcode districtLE15
Dialling code01572
AmbulanceEast Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
52°40′14″N 0°44′00″W / 52.6705°N 0.7333°W / 52.6705; -0.7333

Oakham is a market town and civil parish in Rutland (of which it is the county town) in the East Midlands of England. The town is located 25 miles (40.2 km) east of Leicester, 28 miles (45.1 km) south-east of Nottingham and 23 miles (37.0 km) north-west of Peterborough. It had a population of 12,149 in the 2021 census.[2] Oakham is to the west of Rutland Water and in the Vale of Catmose. Its height above sea level ranges from 325 to 400 ft (99 to 122 m).



The name of the town means "homestead or village of Oc(c)a" or "hemmed-in land of Oc(c)a".[3]



Local governance for Oakham is provided for by the single-tier unitary Rutland County Council, which is based in the town. Oakham is a civil parish with a town council.

Oakham, along with Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire and the rest of Rutland, has been represented at Westminster by the Conservative Member of Parliament Alicia Kearns since 2019.

Having lain within the historic county boundaries of Rutland from a very early time, it became part of the non-metropolitan county of Leicestershire from 1974 to 1997. Historically, Oakham had been one of the five hundreds of Rutland. The town was in Oakham Rural District from 1894 to 1911, then Oakham Urban District from 1911 to 1974.



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.[4]

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



Tourist attractions in Oakham include All Saints' Church and Oakham Castle. Another historic feature is the open-air market held in the town's market place every Wednesday and Saturday. Nearby is the Buttercross with an octagonal stone-slate roof and the wooden stocks – both Grade I listed buildings.[5][6]

All Saints' Church

The great hall of Oakham Castle, with the spire of All Saints' Church beyond

The spire of Oakham parish church, built during the 14th century, dominates distant views of the town for several miles in all directions. Restored in 1857–1858 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the church is a Grade I listed building.[7]

Oakham Castle


Only the great hall of the Norman castle is still standing, surrounded by steep earthworks marking the inner bailey. The hall dates from about 1180–1190. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner, in his Leicestershire and Rutland volume of the Buildings of England series, noted; "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 decorated with Romanesque architectural details, including six carvings of musicians. It is a Grade I listed building.[8] 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, which is still surrounded by low earthworks, lies to the north of the castle. Known as Cutts Close, it is now a park. The park has some deep hollows which are remnants of the castle's dried-up stew ponds (fishponds).[9] A Castle-class corvette named HMS Oakham Castle was launched in July 1944.[10]

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. Recent horseshoes commemorate visits by Princess Anne (1999), Prince Charles (2003) and Princess Alexandra (2005).[9] The horseshoes hang with the ends pointing down; while this is generally held to be unlucky, in Rutland this was thought to stop the Devil from sitting in the hollow. The horseshoe motif appears in the county council's arms and on Ruddles beer labels.

Rutland County Museum


The museum is located in the old Riding School of the Rutland Fencible Cavalry which was built in 1794–1795.[11] The museum houses a collection of objects relating to local rural and agricultural life, social history and archaeology.

Statue of Queen Elizabeth II


A statue of Elizabeth II by Hywel Pratley was unveiled on 21 April 2024, which would have been the 98th birthday of the late Queen. The 7ft (2.1m) tall sculpture on a limestone base was commissioned by the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland and funded through donations from businesses and members of the public, at the cost of £125,000.[12]


Oakham railway station

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.

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.[13]



Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC East Midlands and ITV Central. Television signals are received from the Waltham TV transmitter.[14]

Rutland's local radio stations are BBC Radio Leicester on 104.9 FM, Smooth East Midlands on 106.6 FM, Gem on 106.0 FM, Greatest Hits Radio Midlands (which used to be Rutland Radio) on 107.2 FM, Sabras Radio on 91.0 FM and Rutland and Stamford Sound, a community based radio station which broadcast on DAB and online to the county and Stamford in Lincolnshire.[15]

The Rutland Mercury and Rutland Times are the local newspapers that serve the area.[16][17]


Oakham Market Cross, with 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 owner of the town'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, moved from the outskirts of the town to Great Casterton.

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.[18] 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.

Notable people


Twin towns


Oakham is twinned with:



  1. ^ "Oakham Town Council Website". Oakham Town Council. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  2. ^ "City Population. Retrieved 12 March 2023". Archived from the original on 8 January 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  3. ^ University of Nottingham - Institute of Name Studies School of English. "Key to English Place-names". Kepn.nottingham.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  4. ^ Bennett, James; et al. (22 November 2018). "Contributions of diseases and injuries to widening life expectancy inequalities in England from 2001 to 2016: a population-based analysis of vital registration data". Lancet public health. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Market Cross (1073278)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 October 2006.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Stocks (1073279)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  7. ^ Historic England. "CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS, Oakham (1073305)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Oakham "Castle" (1073277)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 October 2006.
  9. ^ a b "Oakham Castle". Rutland On Line. Archived from the original on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  10. ^ "Castle Class Corvettes". Battleships-Cruisers. Archived from the original on 14 October 2006. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  11. ^ "Rutland County Museum". Archived from the original on 3 November 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  12. ^ Ball, Jeremy; Patel, Asha (21 April 2024). "Rutland: Hundreds attend Queen Elizabeth II statue unveiling". BBC News. Retrieved 23 April 2024.
  13. ^ "Timetable. Retrieved 8 November 2020". Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Full Freeview on the Waltham (Leicestershire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  15. ^ "Rutland and Stamford". Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  16. ^ "Rutland Times". Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Rutland & Stamford Mercury". British Papers. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  18. ^ Ambitious Oakham United looking to be top local side in the UCL Division One: Ambitious Oakham United looking to be top local side in the UCL Division One Archived 18 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine, accessdate 18 February 2020.