For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been staying in Uppingham which is situated in the smallest county in England, Rutland. On one of my free days, I decided to explore the surrounding area, which included a visit the only other town in Rutland, Oakham, and that’s where I came across Oakham Castle. This week’s Foto Friday is a photograph of its Great Hall, which has lots of… horseshoes, over 200, in fact. They cover all four walls.
The castle was built in the 12th century for Walkelin de Ferrers who was the Lord of the Manor of Oakham. It doesn’t look much like a castle to me because it’s tiny and all that remains is the Great Hall. However, according to the information sheet, it did once fit the definition of a castle.
‘So, why are there so many horseshoes?’, you might ask. Well, apparently, it became a tradition for peers of the realm to present horseshoes to the Lord of the Manor on their first trip to the town. The plausible explanation, provided on the information sheet in the Great Hall, suggests it’s because the horseshoe was the symbol of the de Ferrers family since the 11th century. So, it was an appropriate gift to present to the host.
The oldest surviving horseshoe dates back to 1470, which was presented by Edward IV. You will see that, apart from the different sizes, the horseshoes are decorated with coronets. This became common practice in the 18th century and it denotes the peer’s rank.
Apart from all the horseshoes, the great thing about this castle is that it’s free to enter and you can get married there, if you so wish. It’s useful to know, even if you have no intention of getting married there, because it is closed to visitors at those times.
So, if you’re wondering where the heck Oakham is, or even Rutland for that matter, here you are…
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Have you ever seen so many horsehoes in one place?