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Southwest Lincolnshire Country Houses
by Michael Ford, Country House Editor
Oakham Castle Day 4.
Oakham Castle in the small county town of Rutland was built at the end of the 12th century by Walkelin de Ferrers. Just the Great Hall survives and is the oldest in England this complete. There is no defensive masonry indicating that the castle was more like a manor house than a military fortification. The outside gives the impression of the nave of a church. Likewise the inside which has beautifully carved arcading to the roof with Norman dogtooth patterns.
The walls are hung with horseshoes of all sizes because custom required every nobleman, visiting for the first time, to donate one. This custom presumably relates to the de Ferrers name meaning 'a farrier'. The oldest horseshoe dates from the late 15th century and there are some very large ones, much too big for a horse but given as a status symbol.
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