Rutland is Peppered with Picturesque Villages
These days, retreating to a quintessentially English village for a relaxing weekend break can be a welcome diversion from the stress of everyday life.
So if an authentic countryside experience, complete with picturesque country cottages, country pub and village green is what’s required, Rutland cannot fail to impress. There are over 50 pretty villages to explore in Rutland, all of which are well kept, charming and unspoilt; perfect for your holiday destination, as many villages have beautiful accommodation available.
If you enjoy walking in the UK then you’ll want to fully appreciate the beautiful scenery in Rutland by enjoying a leisurely ramble, before stopping off at the local inn for some home cooked food and locally produced real ales. Meet the friendly, welcoming locals and discover a relaxed pace of life. You can download a leaflet for village walks starting from Exton – Braunston – Empingham – Ryhall and Langham here.
Stoke Dry: A small village of around 14 houses nestled in the hillside overlooking the Eyebrook Reservoir. It is said to be the village where the Gunpowder Plot conspirators met in a small room above the porch of the church. The church itself dates from the late 10th century but has been enlarged and modified since.
Ashwell: This village is thought, by some, to have taken its name from the Ash lined stream near the village. It is situated just 2 miles from Oakham and it boasts one of the few remaining ‘Request Railway Crossings’, where travellers have to manually press a button to request the opening of the crossing gates to walk over the railway.
Bisbrooke: A small village straddling an ironstone ridge between two brooks. It’s from one of these streams that Bisbrooke takes its name. Bisbrooke was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it was originally spelled ‘Bitlesbroch’. The name has undergone around 19 different spellings over the centuries, including Bitelesbroke, Pysbroke and Butlisbroke. One explanation is that an early settler named Bitel lived next to the brook but it is also possible that the village’s name is attributed to the fact that the stream was infested with water beetles, as betel is an old English word for beetle.
Gunthorpe: William the Conqueror made reference to Gunthorpe in the Domesday book. The population grew to several hundred before being devastated by the plague in the 14th Century. Today Gunthorpe remains as one of Rutland’s tiniest inhabited Hamlets, with just 10 houses and around 16 residents, and it’s oldest surviving building was built circa 1840.
Hambleton: Meaning ‘the settlement’ (tun) ‘on the crooked hill’ (Hamble). The village is situated on the Hambleton Peninsula with Rutland Water surrounding it on three sides. The village contains the 12th century church of St. Andrew, a thriving local pub (The Finch’s Arms) and the country house hotel, Hambleton Hall. Hambleton boasts incredible views in all directions and pretty walks along the peninsula that take walkers and cyclists through bluebell woods in Spring.
Market Overton: The settlement at Market Overton probably dates back to Roman times as many artefacts have been found in the village. The earthworks, to the north and east of the church, are thought to be Roman in origin too. The Village was also important in Saxon times and there is evidence of an early pagan cemetery to the south-east which has produced many excellent grave findings. The village green is thought to mark the location of the medieval market place and gives the village it’s name. Today, the village green is home to reminders of the past with the village stocks and whipping post!
Normanton: All that remains of Normanton, after the creation of Rutland Water, are a few farms, a hotel and cottages. The remains of the iconic church can be seen at the edge of Rutland Water. Dramatic changes have occurred in this small area of Rutland – imagine a landscape without water, let your eyes follow the shallow valley below the church, where a small stream, the Gwash, once followed an insignificant course on its way to join the Welland at Stamford.
Whitwell: Named after the spring which flows from beneath the church, which is called ‘the white spring’, or ‘the white well’. Whitwell claims to be twinned with Paris, France. In the 1970’s, regulars from the local pub wrote to the Mayor of Paris proposing this twinning with a tight deadline for a response. As no answer arrived from the Mayor’s office by this set date, the village unilaterally declared itself to be twinned and erected road signs to that effect!
Edith Weston: Edward the Confessor bequeathed Rutland to his wife Edith of Wessex. ‘The extreme western area of Edith’s lands’ is probably how the village came by it’s name.
Langham: Meaning long village or long water meadow, Langham owes its origins to the Anglo Saxons, although Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman remains have been found within the parish. The Domesday Book records Oakham as having five hamlets of which, it is likely, Langham was one. Being largely royal property, Langham was given by successive kings to various favoured families. It was granted to Thomas Cromwell by King Henry VIII and the Cromwell family owned Langham until 1600 when it was sold to Sir Andrew Noel. The Manor of Langham remained in the Noel family until 1925 when the sale of the Gainsborough estates took place. For more information view the village website.
Greetham: The main landmark is the broach spire of the medieval village church which is perhaps the finest of its kind in England. Greetham, meaning ‘village on stone’ is a long village that stands on both sides of North Brook, a stream that meanders through the village. Its older buildings are constructed from fine locally quarried limestone with Collyweston stone or thatched roofs. Archaeological finds demonstrate that the village has been occupied through the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages, and a pottery kiln from the Roman period has been found. In 1290 King Edward I stayed with the Earl of Warwick at the Manor House (long since demolished) which had its own enclosed deer hunting park. View the village website here.
North Luffenham: Discovery of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery to the north of the modern village suggests that there were people living here in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. The village grew and prospered during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century the village was the scene of a small English Civil War siege when in 1642 Lord Grey and his parliamentary forces were gathered at Leicester. With gunpowder and ammunition taken in raids on Oakham, they marched to Brooke to arrest Viscount Campden. Henry Noel, a known royalist, heard of this and decided to take a “little guard” into his house, Luffenham Hall. Disappointed at Brooke, Lord Grey and his 1300 soldiers made their way to North Luffenham, destroying the nearby hamlet of Sculthorpe and surrounded the Hall. There was little actual fighting, although the church register does record the burial of an unnamed parliamentary soldier on 21 February 1642. Outnumbered by seven to one, Henry Noel had little choice but to surrender. View more here.
Pop into a local village store
Many of our lovely villages have a useful village shop for all your essentials (and treats!). Many go the extra mile to warmly welcome visitors and provide a host of useful information during your stay. From finding a good place to eat to recommending wet weather ideas, if you need some local knowledge whilst out and about in Rutland, be sure to pay your village shop a visit.
The Market Store, Market Overton, 01572 767948. Main Street, Market Overton, Rutland, LE15 7PL
Barbara’s Store, Empingham, 01780 460348. 15 Church Street, Empingham, Rutland, LE15 8PN
Edith Weston Village Store, 01780 722164. off Church Lane, Edith Weston, Rutland, LE15 8EY
There are also shops in other villages, such as Barrowden, Greetham, Ketton etc.