RUTLAND SENATE WEEKEND
FRIDAY 24th JULY to SUNDAY 26th JULY 2020
We are delighted to invite you to join us for our Rutland Senate weekend.
If you were paying attention in Geography lessons at school, you won’t need to be reminded that Rutland is the smallest historic county in England. Its greatest length is 18 miles from north to south and 17 miles from east to west. It has the smallest population of any unitary authority in England. It is the only English county not to have a McDonalds!
The county’s historic motto is “Multum in Parvo” which, if you were also paying attention in Latin lessons, you will know means “Much in Little”. That is very much the spirit of Rutland and we believe we have a selection of activities that will capture that spirit and immerse you in much of what this unique and special place has to offer.
Rutland has long been a proud and independent county and there was dismay and anger back in 1972 when a Government review proposed the county should be abolished and become part of Melton Mowbray. The county was spared that humiliation but lost its county status in 1974 to become a district of Leicestershire.
The local population never accepted this loss of status and a 23 year wrong was put right on 1st April 1997 when the Government sanctioned a divorce from Leicestershire and reinstated Rutland as full, independent self governing county. It was another ten years before the Royal Mail followed suit and reinstated Rutland as a postal county – not that the local population had ever stopped using the name on their addresses in any case!
The hotels in Rutland are not large and are pretty expensive, so we have arranged accommodation at the 4 star Holiday Inn in Corby, in neighbouring Northamptonshire. You can check the hotel out online; it has a heated indoor pool and whirlpool, health and fitness centre, cocktail bar and 24 hour lounge bar.
We will eat at the hotel on Friday and Saturday evenings. A special accommodation rate has been arranged of £90 per night per room, bed and breakfast. Please book direct with the hotel on 01536 401020 – quote British Senate Weekend or BSS to get the special rate. If coming by train, the nearest station is (not surprisingly) Corby.
It is impossible now to imagine Rutland without Rutland Water, the second largest lake in England – man made in 1975. There was always a local rumour that having failed to abolish Rutland, plan B was to flood it! These days however, the water is a huge asset for the county and a site of special scientific interest.
Historically, ospreys were widespread throughout the UK, but were driven to extinction by man. In 1954, ospreys naturally returned to Scotland and began breeding, but due to their instinct to return to the place they are born, they were not spreading south into England. The Rutland Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water worked together to instigate a reintroduction project to bring the osprey back to England. The birds were reintroduced to Rutland in the 1990s and their numbers have increased every year since.
After breakfast on Saturday, we will be taken by coach to the Lyndon Visitor Centre on Rutland Water to hear an introductory talk on the Rutland Osprey Project from one of their experts. The reintroduction of these magnificent birds has been a huge success story for Rutland and we will be able to see the birds for ourselves whilst cruising Rutland Water on Saturday afternoon.
Before that however, we will travel on to the historic county town of Oakham for a guided walking tour of the town, ending up at Oakham Castle.
The Great Hall of Oakham Castle is the finest surviving example of Norman domestic architecture in Europe. It was built between 1180 and 1190. The Great Hall is famed for its for its unique collection of over 230 ornate ceremonial horseshoes donated by Peers of the Realm (Royalty and nobility such as Dukes, Marquis’, Earls, Viscounts, Barons and Bishops). The exact origin of this custom is lost to the mists of time, but it continues to this day. The oldest surviving horseshoe was given to the Castle by Edward IV in 1470.
The horseshoe has long been the symbol of the county of Rutland, appearing on the county coat of arms and flag.
The horseshoe also appears on the labels and beer tap clips of the Grainstore Brewery in Oakham, Rutland’s biggest brewery and producer of some excellent real ales. We will be visiting the brewery after our trip to the castle, not for a tour, but to have a light lunch in the Brewery Tap, and the chance to sample some of their ales. Don’t worry though – all other drinks are available! And for the rail enthusiasts amongst you, the brewery is adjacent to Oakham Station.
Duly refreshed, the coach will take us to one of the two landing posts on Rutland Water where we will board the Rutland Belle for a leisurely private afternoon cruise. The captain is well versed in ospreys and all things Rutland and we can promise you some spectacular sights as we cruise the water. There is a bar on board and pastries, tea and coffee will be served during the trip.
After breakfast on Sunday, we can make our own way by car to the nearby Rockingham Castle.
This perfectly preserved castle was built on the instructions of William the Conqueror nearly 1,000 years ago and uniquely gives brilliant views over five counties from its lofty hilltop position – see Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and of course Rutland from the same spot.
Mediaeval kings – including Richard the Lionheart – stayed at the Castle and it was featured not that long ago in the BBC series “By the Sword Divided”. We will have guided tours of the castle followed by lunch there before saying our farewells.
We hope you’ll agree that we have achieved “multum in parvo” and we really do hope you will join us.
David and Athene Butcher