Our latest Curiosity of the Week is a quirky collection of horseshoes that can be found in Oakham, Rutland.
The horseshoes, which there are more than 230 of, hang on the walls in the Great Hall of Oakham Castle. But why does this unusual collection exist?
There is a unique custom in Oakham which obliges every peer of the realm to give a horseshoe to the lord of the manor on their first visit to the county town. It is thought that this custom has been observed for at least 500 years. These commemorative horseshoes tend to be a bit more fancy than your standard type of shoe, with various styles and designs on display. But why, you might ask?
The custom is thought to be linked to the de Ferrers family who built the Great Hall, and were once major land holders in the area. Their family crest notably features the horseshoe. Today the castle is looked after by Rutland County Council, whose coat of arms also features the infamous horseshoe.
This custom may be centuries old, but it is still observed by visiting aristocrats, so there are horseshoes in the collection dating from 1470, right up to the present day. The oldest surviving horseshoe is said to have been given by Edward IV, and more recent additions have come from HRH the Prince of Wales and the 6th Earl of Gainsborough.
After Heritage Lottery funded restoration, the castle reopened in May last year. If you would like to visit the horseshoes, the Great Hall at Oakham Castle is open every day except Tuesday, all year round.
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