A mere 15 miles in length and 1 I in width, you could be forgiven for saying "oh, have we passed through it?" on your journey from Northamptonshire to Lincolnshire, two adjacent counties.
. Nevertheless it is rich pastoral land with picturesque valleys dotted with villages rather than towns and quiet country roads with the odd large manor house suddenly arising surrounded by large parks.
. The northern and eastern borders are bounded by Lincolnshire, the southern by Northamptonshire, with Leicestershire to the west. The River Welland runs along most of the southeastern boundary.
Origin of name: it means Rota's land, a personal possession of Queen Edith, wife of the Edward the Confessor, it was an endowment or dowry for Norman Queens until it became a county. No one knows for sure who Rota was.
Name first recorded: 851 as Dev Fenascir
OAKHAM Home to one of the country's most exclusive public schools. L- shaped market place with old town stocks is a treat The Great Hall of the Norman castle houses perhaps the most remarkable collection of horseshoes in the world, including one given by George IV which is seven feet long and made of solid bronze.
COTTESMORE England's most famous and oldest hunt, the Cottesmore, was established in 1732. in season, the hounds still meet four times a week, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
KETTON One of the largest villages of the county with butter-coloured buildings excavated from its famous local quarry. St Mary's Church is an exceptionally attractive example of this stone.
MARKET OVERTON An historic village with Roman earthworks and a 6th century pagan settlement. Complete with old stocks and whipping post and royal visits by Edwards I and II it had its hey-day.
UPPINGHAM Has a wide sloping high street with bow- fronted shops. Nearby Hallaton is a most pretty village. Rutland's second town.
. Ayston . Barrowden . Clipsham . Empingham . Ryhall . Stoke Dry . Whissendine
Welland, Eye, Wash, Chater.
Ranksborough Hill (625 feet) by Manton near the centre of the county.
. June 29: Rush Strewing Ceremony - Barrowden Church. Rushes from nearby fields are used in keeping with a provision that the field tenant - the Church - keeps up the ceremony each year.
. Sunday following June 29th: Hay Strewing Ceremony - Langham Church.
. Sunday nearest June 29th: Hay Strewing Ceremony
. Braunston Church. Part of a legacy from early Lord of the Manor to the parish clerk as a reward for finding his lost daughter. The East Midlands Gas Board now makes an annual payment in lieu of hay, as the original meadow now lies under the local gasworks.
. August: Mayor-making Ceremony - Oakham. Traditional greeting ceremony between new incumbent and predecessor.
. May: Oakham Fair - Oakham.
. 1st week in August: Rutland Agricultural Fair - Showground, Oakham.
. August Bank Holiday: Oakham Horticultural Show.
. Sir Everard Digby of Stoke Dry financed Guy Fawkes's Gunpowder Plot.
. Titus Oates originator of the Popish Plot was born at Oakham in 1649.
. Sir Isaac Newton lived at Market Over-ton during hischildhood.
. 19th-century poet John Clare praised Rutland's beauty and lived at Pickworth.
The County of Rutland is governed by a single Rutland unitary council.
I'D BE SURPRISED if Rutland ever suffered from the drought conditions of 1995 - it's just that there seems to be so much water in such a small county - and it's man- made at that
If good things come in small packages, as the old adage has it, then the famous local brewery. Ruddles, has milked the county's size to excellent effect for its marketing slogan: 'Much Out Of Little' - regardless of whether the inhabitants are fiercely proud and protective of their heritage in the face of attempts to have it absorbed into its larger neighbours. As for the beer, well, its reputation is nationally established amongst real-ale enthusiasts.
The county town of Oakham is a handsome melange of limestone and ironstone terraces and Georgian buildings interspersed with modern constructions, although the market place with its octagonal Butter Cross and town stocks provides a pleasing focus. The Norman banqueting hall is all that remains of the original town castle built in 1191, its walls decorated with horseshoes donated, under ancient custom, by every monarch and peer of the realm on first visiting the town. Oakham School, founded in 1584, has been refitted as a Shakespearean centre, while the Rutland County Museum, with its mixed exhibits of Iron Age and Roman finds and agricultural tools, occupies the former riding school of the Rutland Fencibles, a volunteer cavalry regiment raised in 1794. Uppingham, seven miles south, has a more uniform style with its wide sloping high street flanked by bow-fronted shops and ironstone houses of the 18th century. At its west end stands the fortress-like facade of Uppingham School, founded in 1587, which has some of the largest playing fields in England. The villages of Edith Weston, named after Edward the Confessor's widow, and Empingham stand close to the horse-shoe-shaped Rutland Water (yes, everything is horse-shoe-shaped here: obviously a lucky place to live!). It boasts the largest surface area (3,100 acres) of any man- made lake in northern Europe. Created by the damming of the River Gwash in 1976, it serves as a leisure and recreation centre, with a string of developments spread around its periphery which cater for assorted water sports and nature enthusiasts. The village of Ketton is particularly noted for the honey-coloured limestone utilized in the building of many of its houses and cottages.
The Coritani tribe inhabited the area prior to the Roman conquest. In the 8th century it became part of the kingdom of Mercia. King Ethelred gave Rutland to his queen, Emma, who later became the wife of King Canute. Subsequent monarchs followed suit, bestowing the county on their queens and court favourites, since it offered splendid opportunities for hunting wild boar and deer. The title of Lord of The Manor of Oakham was granted to his blacksmith by William the Conqueror, leading to the custom of kings and peers presenting horseshoes to the manorial lord when visiting the town. In 1470, during the Wars of the Roses, the battle of Losecoat Field was fought in Rutland, the defeated Lancastrian supporters discarding their coats as they fled. During the Civil War, Rutland was staunchly puritan and supported the Parliamentary cause.
Further to the county's Civil War associations, a dwarf named Jeffrey Hudson was born at Oakham in 1619. Only 18 inches tall by the age of nine (its fitting he was born in England's smallest county), he was concealed in a pie served to Henrietta, wife of Charles I, during a visit by her to Burley-on-the-Hill. She took him to court, where he served her as a page, but later fought bravely as a Royalist during the Civil War.