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The NORMANTON leisure area is on the South Shore of Rutland Water, and is where you’ll find the half-drowned Normanton Church; the Giant cycle store with both bike hire and sales and the main Angling or Fishing base.

There’s a large car park and easy access to expansive grass areas that slope gently down to the water. There are WCs at Normanton, and for eating/drinking, there’s the Crazy Fox take-away/outdoor cafe or L’Oliveto Restaurant which is on the upper floor of the main building, with many tables enjoying wonderful water views. (Under the same ownership as L’Oliveto Restaurant in Oakham: don’t go to the wrong one.) There are a few metal ‘trays’ on posts for disposable BBQs.

Normanton is my favourite corner of Rutland Water for summer evenings: its location in the south-east ‘corner’ of the reservoir means that you’re facing west up the Egleton ‘arm’ of the reservoir, so it is the perfect spot from which to see the sun set. HOWEVER don’t get locked into the car park. The site closes ‘at dusk’ which of course varies depending on the time of year: check the closing time as you arrive – it is always clearly displayed.

NORMANTON CHURCH

The church is usually reached on foot or bike, except on days when there’s a wedding, when the bollard in the centre of the drive is removed to allow wedding car access.

Most visitors assume the church must have been the ‘village’ church of Normanton before the reservoir was created, and in one respect they’re right.  The original church was on this site or near enough to it, but in the 18th century the wealthy Heathcote family demolished most of Normanton village to make room for parkland around its ‘new’ seat of Normanton Hall. The Heathcotes re-housed the peasants in new cottages in nearby Empingham, and re-modelled St Matthew’s church in the classical style to serve as their private family chapel.

East of the church (accessible for walkers and cyclists by the path, but with its own vehicle access off the main road) is the only other building that remains of Normanton Park, which is the 18th century stable block. Normanton Hall itself fell out of use in the early 20th century, its fixtures and fittings were stripped out and auctioned off, and the building demolished in 1925. The rather elegant stable block is now the Best Western Normanton Park Hotel, which enjoys a superb water-side location and is another very popular place for civil weddings.

Despite the demise of the Normanton Park estate, St Matthew’s remained in use as a church and was renovated in the 1960s. When it became clear that it would be half-drowned by the creation of the reservoir, it was de-consecrated (in 1970) but locals who loved the building protested against its loss and a solution was found.  The lower half of the church was filled with rubble to a point a couple of feet above high-water level and topped off with a new concrete floor. Outside, the little eminence on which the church sits was banked up, so that you can walk all around the church and it is linked to the shore by a short causeway.

A small museum is set inside, mainly in cabinets against the walls, so as not to get in the way of the weddings (see below). It outlines the story of Rutland Water, includes some local fossil finds, and agricultural bits and pieces and to be frank is not particularly gripping!

Normanton Church was licensed for civil wedding ceremonies in 2010 and it is understandably sought-after not only by Rutland brides but couples from across the East Midlands.

Normanton Church really IS the iconic image associated with Rutland Water, featuring in all publicity for the area, and for this website!

RUTLAND FISHING LODGE

Normanton is THE main base for fishing on Rutland Water, for both fly  and coarse fishing. From here you can hire a boat by the half-day, full-day or for evening fishing.

There’s also a large, well-stocked Tackle Shop (at ground-floor level under L’Oliveto Restaurant) and it is here that Competition catches are weighed and prizes awarded. When the Tackle Shop is closed, there’s a ‘vendor hut’ by the WCs here at Normanton.

Note that officially, Rutland Fishing Lodge’s address is shown as being at Edith Weston, which is the neighbouring village, but really, it is Normanton.  As I am no fisherman, I will not expose my ignorance further, but refer anglers to Anglian Water’s website for full details and prices: anglianwater.co.uk

 
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