Oakham Castle on a worldwide hunt to find horseshoes

Oakham Castle
Oakham Castle

A summer of fun awaits at Oakham Castle as staff at the recently renovated building run a host of activities in a bid to increase visitors numbers.

The castle reopened at the end of May after a £2.1m Heritage Lottery Funded project and at the time the council’s portfolio holder for cultureOliver Hemsley (Con) said there was an aim of increasing visitor numbers to about 45,000 a year over the next three years.

As part of this project to get people more involved with the castle, staff are asking people to snap a photo of the Rutland horseshoes they find - anywhere around the world - and upload them to Instagram using the #Rutlandhorseshoes, mentioning where the photo was taken.

Castle activity manager Charlotte Widgery said: “The Rutland horseshoe is distinct because it’s what the rest of the world considers upside down. However, history dictates that they’ve only been turned the other way up in the last 100 years, after the First World War.

“The shape originates from the family crest of the Ferrers family who first built the Castle here in Oakham and legend says it’s tipped so that the Devil can’t make its nest in the loop.”

But with superstitions aside, the shape has become well associated with the county and Rutlanders are very proud of it. The castle has more than 200 horseshoes presented by royalty and peers of the realm over the centuries.

Charlotte added: “We want to know how many Rutland-shaped horseshoes we can find around the county, the country and even the world. If you’re going away on holiday, exploring new places or even doing some tourist activities in Rutland, we want to see your horseshoes.”

Oakham Castle will share as many of the horseshoes as it can throughout the summer holidays on its Instagram account: @oakhamcastle

Throughout the summer the castle has a number of events and activities, including Medieval Mondays every Monday from July 25 - building on the activities that took place during the opening.

To find out more please email castle@rutland.gov.uk or call 01572 757578.

There’s also a new reading nook opening on Sunday where you can come along and borrow a book, choose a corner to read in or bring a blanket and head out to the castle grounds. Donations of unwanted children’s and adults’ books will be very welcome.

The castle is also taking part in the national CBA Festival of British Archaeology in July as part of the Leicestershire and Rutland events programme.

The events begin on Tuesday, July 25 with a talk from historian Peter Liddle on the Castles of Leicestershire and Rutland. Entry to the talk, which begins at 7.30pm is £3.50 and includes a copy of a Rutland record book which contains wonderful snippets of local history. Pay on arrival.

On the following day, July 27 July, the castle and Rutland County Museum are hosting the Monarch’s March for children over the age of five.

Arrive at the castle for 10am to design and make your own horseshoe and crown. The group will then march to the castle to present their horseshoes to the Lord of the Manor, as is customary to all royalty and peers of the realm who visit the county.

The event costs £2.50 per child which is payable on the day.

To round up the festival of archaeology, cCharlotte Widgery will give a guided tour of the castle and the grounds on Sunday, July 31, from 2pm.

You’ll be able to hear about the castle’s exciting history, right up to the project and learn what else is in store for the building which Historic England has scheduled as an ancient monument.

Spaces are limited so please book by e-mailing Charlotte at cwidgery@rutland.gov.uk.

The tour will take approximately 45 minutes and costs £1 per person, payable on the day.