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A Timeline of Oakham Castle


“Roteland” is granted to Emma of Normandy

Emma is the mother of Edward the Confessor, the land is gifted to her on her marriage to King Ethelred in AD1002. From this point, Rutland appears to have been reserved for the Queens of English Kings.


The County is Bequeathed to Edith of Wessex

The last Anglo-Saxon to hold the County was Queen Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor. Edward bequeathed Rutland to Edith in 1053, following the death of Queen Emma.


“Ocheham” passes into the ownership of William the Conqueror

Following the death of Edith of Wessex in 1075, the manor of Oakham is taken into ownership of the crown.  This then is a potential date for construction of the Motte and Bailey Castle.

(THMcK Clough – Oakham Castle: A Guide and History) (2008)


The Domesday Survey

The Domesday Survey for Rutland records a Hall in Oakham: William I had “two ploughs belonging to the Hall”


Henry de Ferrers becomes Lord of the Manor

Oakham passed from the King into the hands of Henry de Ferrers.


The First Mention of Oakham Castle

First mention of Oakham Castle in a treaty between Ranulf, Earl of Chester, and Robert, Earl of Leicester

[Cott. MSS. (B.M.) Nero, iii, fol 178]Victoria County History of Rutland Vol 1 p168


Walkelin de Ferrers becomes Baron of Oakham

Walkelin de Ferrers receives the Barony of Oakham

c.1180The Great Hall is built by Walkelin de Ferrers


Oakham Castle as we know it is built

Walkelin de Ferrers built the castle out of stone. 


King John Visits the Castle

King John visits Oakham Castle on the 10th March 1206

Archaeologia ; Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity, Volume 22, Part 1


Henry III visits

Henry III visits Oakham at least 7 times


First Known Court

First recorded assize at Oakham Castle

13th Century

Fortifications are improved

A gateway and drawbridge and a stone curtain wall are built against the existing earthworks


The Great Hall is damaged by fire

The Great Hall is damaged by fire in the Barons’ War during Richard of Cornwall’s tenure of Oakham

1272 5 April.

The Castle returns to ownership of the King

Westminster. Concerning the castles formerly of Richard, King of Germany , which have been taken into the king’s hand. The king has assigned to Roger de Meyland. Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield to take into the king’s hand the castles of Okeham, Wallingford, Berkhamstead and Mere with appurtenances formerly R. sometime king of Germany deceased who held of the king in chief, and to keep them in the king’s name in the form provided before him and the other councillors of the king until the king orders otherwise. 

Originalia Roll E 371/36, 56 and 57  Henry III (1271-1272)


Mention is made after Richard of Cornwalls Death of the manor of Oakham

A garden, fishponds, windmill, water-mill, and deer parks are noted in the inquisition post mortem following the death of Richard Earl of Cornwall


Fortifications are Improved Further

Edward II issues a general order to fortify all castles, including Oakham. The curtain wall of the inner bailey was probably completed before this date but possibly then improved.

Cal. Close R. 1307–13, p. 30


A Royal Visit

Edward II Visits Oakham



At Oakham there is a certain castle, well walled, and in that castle are a hall, four rooms, a chapel, a kitchen, two stables, a barn for hay, a house for prisoners – the county gaol, a room for the gatekeeper, and a drawbridge with iron chains. The castle contains within its wall an estimated two acres of ground. The same is called the manor of Oakham. Outside the castle is a garden, and fish ponds and a moat.



worth nothing per annum … but in need of repair (the Great Hall is now nearly 200 years old and the country is suffering plague, famine, and loss of man-power).


Castle is refurbished

William Flore repairs houses, walls and buildings in the manor.


Further Renovation and improvements

The Great Chapel and the King’s two great chambers are pargeted and whitewashed. A chimney is inserted in the chamber by the gate. In the following year a new chapel and chamber are built, with a passageway connecting the chapel to the hall. It has stone walls, a tiled roof, and three glazed windows.


Edward III’s last visit to Oakham.


Richard II visits Oakham.


Summer grazing in the small park is granted to William Flore.


Refurbishment For a Royal Visit

Richard II visits: repairs are made to doors, walls and windows, a chimney is made for the King’s chamber and a new roasting house is built.



Timber, tiles and slates purchased for repairs at Oakham and Rockingham castles.


Further repairs

5,000 Collyweston slates sent to Oakham.



"the buildings are in a poor state, suffering from neglect and lack of maintenance"


Minor repairs are carried out.

Late medieval stock is grazing within the bailey.



following the execution of the Duke of Buckingham – "there is an old castle, all ruinous…the hall is in the best state of repair, and old fashioned…but reasonable and roofed for the courts held there."


Everything else is probably in a state of collapse, never to be resurrected. By the early 16th century the hall probably ceased to be used for any domestic purpose. As Burley on the Hill became the residence of the lord of the manor the Great Hall was kept largely because of its use for court purposes.

16th Century


A window is inserted into the east wall.


Oakham School established

Robert Johnson’s grammar school is established next to the Church - later to become the well respected Independent school, Oakham School. 


Major Alterations

George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, now resides in the first big house at Burley on the Hill. He probably: Levelled the ruins around the castle and the old domestic offices at the east and west end; Re-roofed the great hall and Installed a new pediment over the Castle Lane gateway.


An illustration depicting the Castle

James Wright’s illustration shows the Great Hall standing alone within the remnants of the wall.


Another illustration depicting the Castle

Buck’s engraving shows a similar condition.

1730 - 1841

Alterations to the Entrance

The door into the Great Hall is moved from the end archway towards the Eastern wall to the centre of the wall where it is now. Reason unknown, but possibly because it was becoming fashionable to have symmetrical buildings. 

Early 19th Century


Dormer windows are inserted into the north and south aisles.



The gateway is rebuilt.


Major Refurbishment

The Great Hall is restored in memory of the Rt Hon G H Finch, MP for Rutland for 40 years, with extensive repairs to the east wall and the stone flagged floor.


Archeological Dig

Peter Gathercole conducts an archaeological excavation of the moated area to the south of the bailey.


Archeological Dig, John Barber

John Barber conducts big archaeological excavations adjacent to the Great Hall. He discovers a good deal about the rooms leading off the East wall where the three blocked doorways now are. He discovers they went to a buttery (where the barrels of ale and wine were stored - nothing to do with butter!), the kitchen and a pantry. 


Major Refurbishment

The Great Hall is rewired and redecorated.


Archeological Dig

Josephine Sharman and Deborah Sawday carry out an archaeological evaluation in the outer bailey for Leicestershire Museums.


Archeological Survey

Terrestrial laser scan and photographic survey of the defence earthworks, the Great Hall interior, and Cutts Close by Trent & Peak Archaeology.


Time Team Dig

Channel 4’s Time Team carries out excavations in the Castle grounds. They re-dug some of John Barber's earlier excavations. Some of their finds are on display in the bookcase in the castle and some are stored at Rutland County Museum


Archeological Survey

Nick Hill’s architectural re-assessment of the Great Hall appears in Antiquaries Journal

2014 - 2015

Major Refurbishment

Rutland County Council’s bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund award to ensure the future of the Castle and its site is successful.

Major restoration works are undertaken on the great hall, it's collection of Horseshoes and the curtain wall.

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