Secret Places in RutlandPosted: 2010-07-23
Almost the entire county of Rutland could be listed as a 'secret place', but I've avoided listing popular destinations like Oakham Castle, Barnsdale Gardens, and Normanton church museum even though they would be on my ordinary list of top places to see in the county. Hmm ... looks like 4 of these secret places are churches, well, that's because Rutland is blessed with some fantastic historic churches!
1. Exton church - listed in Simon Jenkins popular book, England's Thousand Best Churches, Exton is best known for its wonderful collection of historic tombs, ranging from the 15th to the 19th century. Most attention will fall on the ornate tomb of Baptist, Viscount Campden, but for my money, the best of the lot is the late 16th-century Kelway monument in the south transept.
2. Egleton church - Egleton is best known as the home of Birdfest, the annual birdwatching festival on the shores of Rutland Water. But the little church of St Edmund is a hidden gem, possessing a stunning collection of late Saxon or early Norman carving. The south doorway is beautifully carved, and includes a beautifully preserved tympanum with two beasts. The chancel arch is just as beautifully carved, and is well worth seeing.
3. Tickencote - Talk about hidden, Tickencote stands almost in the shadow of a busy A-road, yet time seems to have passed it by. The church is one of the most interesting in southern England, with a carved Norman chancel arch that must rank as one of the architectural highlights of the age.
4. Burley, Holy Cross Church - this medieval church stands in the grounds of Burley House. It is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. There are a pair of beautifully carved medieval effigies, but the primary interest is a stunning memorial sculpture by Sir Francis Chantrey to Lady Charlotte Finch, governess to the children of George III.
5. Rutland Railway Museum - Tucked away in quiet countryside between Cottesmore and Ashwell is this small museum dedicated to railways and the local quarrying industry. There is a demonstration rail line stretching 3/4 mile, and a large open-air collection of railway engines, vans, coaches, and wagons (both steam and diesel-driven).