Rutland Guide

After some years subsumed into the neighbouring county of Leicestershire, Rutland has once more emerged as a county in its own right, albeit the smallest in England. Places relevant to the theme of this guide are correspondingly few. In the nineteenth century, a young man came to Rutland as itinerant missionary and Bible reader for the Baptists. In 1829 he travelled more than two thousand miles on foot, but later he found more congenial methods of transport. His name was Thomas Cook. In 1994, plaques were placed on several Baptist chapels in the Midlands to mark the 150th anniversary of his travel company.

 

LITTLE CASTERTON

The turbulent Robert Browne (1550-1633), founder of "Separatism" was born at Tolethorpe Hall in this village just north of Stamford. The present hall is a later building, currently used as a centre for open-air theatre. There are memorials to the Browne family in All Saints Church at Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Browne's controversial career is described elsewhere. He served as rector of Achurch in Northamptonshire for forty years and died in Northampton gaol.

 

EXTON

The Protestant martyr John Bradford (c1510-1555) spent some time as servant to Sir John Harington at Exton Hall, which burned down in 1810. In the church of St Peter and St Paul (LE15 8AX) there is no mention of Bradford but monuments to various members of the Harington and Noel families are among the finest pieces of English sculpture to be found anywhere.

Bradford studied at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and was ordained by Bishop Nicholas Ridley, to whom he later became chaplain. Known for his exceptional gentleness and humility, Bradford was arrested within a month of the accession of Queen Mary and was burned at the stake at Smithfield on July 1st, 1555. His final words, to his fellow-sufferer John Leaf, were "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth to eternal life and few there be that find it".