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Local Businesses

DG Norman Agricultural Engineers
Cotton Farm Yard
The Cottons
LE16 8TF
Tel: 01536 770966
Fax: 01536 771696
The Barn Tea Room
Sondes Barn
Main Street
LE16 8TG
Tel: 01536 772514
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Rockingham Decorators
Lee Edwards
The Olde Forge
19 Main Street
LE16 8TG
Tel: 01536 772078
Mobile: 0783457592
[email protected]
Landrover Experience
Land Rover Experience (East Of England)
Shire Farm
Uppingham Road
LE16 8TH
Tel: 01536 772238
[email protected]
B Winch Painter & Decorator
Rockingham Village
Mobile: 07830 391825
Sondes Arms
Main Street
LE16 8TG
Tel. 01536 772193
King West Estate Agent
10 Church Square
Market Harborough
LE16 7NB
Tel: 01858 435970
J Hill Electrical
J Hill Electrical Contractors Ltd
3 The Cottons
LE16 8TF
Tel: 01536 771199
Heath Wright
Rhun Bass Guitars- handmade bass, custom bass guitars
Rockingham Cleanscapes
Landscaping and garden maintenance
2 The Cottons
LE16 8TF
James: 07450 960492
Lewis: 07521 380903
E-mail: [email protected]

Wishmaker Parties:
Entertaining Fairytale parties & events for those with magical dreams. Bringing the story to life!

National info:

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Rockingham Castle

Built by William the Conqueror on the site of an ancient British Fortress, the Castle commands the valley of the River Welland.

For 500 years the Castle was a royal residence, used regularly by the early English Kings both as an administrative centre for the Midlands, and also as a hunting lodge, since the Rockingham Forest offered some of the best sport in the country.

During this period, many important events occurred at Rockingham, including one of the earliest assemblies of State, The Council of Rockingham in 1095, and a great siege later in the 13th century, the marks of which can still be seen on the walls.

King John was a frequent visitor to the Castle, and on his last journey North in 1216, during which he lost most of his personal possessions in the Wash, he left behind an iron chest, which can still be seen in the Castle.

By the middle of the 15th century, the affairs of state had become too complex to be conducted on an itinerant basis, the Kings based themselves more permanently in the South, and castles like Rockingham declined in importance.

In 1530 Edward Watson, a local landowner, obtained a lease of Rockingham from Henry VIII and set about restoring what remained of the Norman Castle, converting it into a comfortable Tudor House. His grandson, Sir Lewis Watson, bought the freehold from James I in 1619, and, apart from a brief period when Roundheads occupied the Castle during the Civil War, the Watson’s have lived here ever since.

Sir Lewis Watson was created a baronet in 1621, and Lord Rockingham in 1644. His only son, Edward, married Anne, daughter of the Earl of Stafford, and their son, Lewis, was created Viscount Sondes and Earl of Rockingham in 1714. Lewis, grandson of the first Earl of Rockingham, upon succeeding to the estate, was created Lord Sondes in 1760.

When the former owner, Commander Michael Saunders Watson took over the Castle he felt that the public should be able to share more fully this part of the nation’s heritage and decided to open more frequently.

The Gardens are now open to the public from 12 noon, and the Castle from 1.00 pm, to 5.00 pm on every Sunday from Easter until the end of September, as well as on Bank Holiday Mondays, and on every Tuesday from June to September. It is also open to booked parties on any day throughout the year. Rockingham Castle website:

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St Leonards Church – History

The parish church of Rockingham village, St Leonard’s Church is a low irregular structure consisting of a nave and chancel, with a memorial chapel to the Watson family. It stands on the hill between the Castle and the Village.

While there was almost certainly a chapel situated within the Castle walls in 1095, at the time of the Council of Rockingham, when William Rufus summoned a council of nobles, bishops and clergy to settle a dispute between himself and Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, little or nothing is positively known of the Church until the institution of Waleranus Teutonicus in 1217, over one hundred years after the building of the Castle.  
The 13th century Church suffered greatly at the time of the Civil War, when Cromwell’s soldiers occupied Rockingham Castle. It was demolished for military reasons and replaced by a small Chapel about 1650.

The post-Civil War church consisted of a wide nave, a north chapel for the Watson monuments and a chancel, off axis with the nave. It is described in Bridges’ Northamptonshire in 1720 as follows:

“The Church, dedicated to St Leonard, a low irregular fabric, consists of the body and chancel, on the south side, extending further than the body of the Church, both covered with lead. The Church is forty-six feet long, and twenty-four feet broad. The Chancel, in length twenty-nine feet six inches and in breadth eighteen feet. The north Chancel, twenty-seven feet and a half in length, and twelve feet six inches broad. In this are two pieces of timber laid across the beams, on which hangs a small bell”.

The Church remained in this state until a wooden tower was built on the north side, in 1776, at the expense of Lady Sondes of Rockingham Castle. This wooden tower was taken down in 1838 at the cost of £2.2s to be replaced by Richard Watson in 1845, by a small bell-tower, with octagonal pyramid roof, the design being taken from one existing in a Church in Oxfordshire.

At the same time the windows in the nave were replaced by four in Gothic decorated style, and an east window of three lights, in the same style was placed in the Chancel, and open seats replaced the old square ones.

Twenty years later the Watson family, the Rector and Parishioners placed a new roof upon the nave and enlarged the Church by the addition of the north aisle. In 1868, the Church was beautified by raising the roof of the Chancel and adding two arches (the mouldings of the capitals and piers being copies from fragments of the former Church), thus opening the north aisle.

Twenty years later the Watson family, the Rector and Parishioners placed a new roof upon the nave and enlarged the Church by the addition of the north aisle. In 1868, the Church was beautified by raising the roof of the Chancel and adding two arches (the mouldings of the capitals and piers being copies from fragments of the former Church), thus opening the north aisle.

At this time Mr George Watson erected a Mortuary Chapel on the south side of the Chancel, and removed to it many of the family monuments, formerly in the Chancel and the north Chapel. In 1902, there were further restorations following a fire in the Church. 

In recent years thousands of pounds have been spent on major repairs and restoration, the roof having been infested with dry rot. Most of the work and decoration of the main part of the Church has now been completed, but work is still continuing to the external stonework, lead work and the Collyweston slate roofs.

The Patronage was held by the Crown until purchased by Edward Watson; his first appointment was that of William Bullin in 1558. The Patronage still remains with the family, but since the parish was joined with St James the Great, Gretton, the appointment of Rector is taken in turns with the Bishop of Peterborough.

From 1998 the parish will also be joined with St Mary Magdalene, Cottingham and St Peter, East Carlton, where upon the patronage will be exercised in turns with Sir Geoffrey Palmer Bt and Brasenose College, Oxford.

The Church is dedicated to St Leonard, a 6th century hermit, the patron saint of prisoners and is usually depicted carrying a chain. Despite his great popularity in the Middle Ages, nothing was heard of him before the 11th century.

He was a Frankish nobleman of the court of King Clovis, and lived in a cell at Noblac, near Limoges, later founding a monastery. His cult spread in the 12th century to England, Italy and Germany and many churches were dedicated to him. His feast day is 6 November.

At Rockingham he is represented in the west window of the north aisle and is also the figure on the north side of the Altar Reredos. 

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Church Services

Regular Services

2nd Sunday of the month – Family Service at 3pm (in the Village Hall during winter months)

4th Sunday of the month – Holy Communion at 9am

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Church Guide


The north arcade is of three bays with arches of two hollow-chamfered orders. The chancel arch is of two continuous hollow-chamfered orders, the jambs perhaps of medieval origin but with a 19th century arch. There are three windows in the south wall, each of three stepped cinquefoil-headed (five lobed) lights with cusped and pierced spandrels. On the sill of the easternmost is the bust of a female effigy. The west window is a large oculus filled by five trefoils (three lobed). The roof is 19th century.

The Font: this is dated 1669, but the cover is 19th century.

The Pulpit: this is Jacobean and has some fine panels; behind is a standard but no canopy. Additional panels of this period are to be found near the font.

Silver Plate: The Church is fortunate to possess a small quantity of Silver Plate; there is an Elizabethan Chalice dated 1570. Lady Catherine Sondes gave a Silver Paten and Chalice and a wine cruet in 1731; these were remodelled in 1852.

West Porch

The shallow gabled west porch has an outer archway of a moulded arch on shafts with foliate capitals and dates from around 1868.


In the north wall is an arcade of two bays with two moulded arches on clustered shafts with round moulded capitals. The east window is of three lights with Geometric tracery of the 19th century. An archway of two continuous orders pierces the south wall, the outer wave moulded, the inner with a sunken roll. The roof is 19th century, repaired around 1902.

The Reredos: situated behind the Altar, this is modern and shows Our Lord with St Leonard to the left and Archbishop Anselm to the right.

Communion Rail: this is of wrought iron – 18th century.

On the north wall of the sanctuary is the memorial of Anne, Lady Rockingham, she was the wife of the second Lord Rockingham and died in 1695. She was the favourite daughter and heiress of the ill-fated 1st Earl of Strafford who was beheaded during the reign of Charles I. The memorial is by John Nost and is of a heavy standing figure with Roman doric columns left and right, a big Baroque pedimented top and black draperies behind the whole monument.

The marble memorial on the south side of the Altar is a very fine example of the work of P Scheemakers. It is the tomb of her son Lewis, the 1st Earl of Rockingham, who died in 1724. His wife is with him, and they stand on either side of a marble sarcophagus. He is wearing Roman dress and she wears an ermine mantle. There is a dancing putto on the sarcophagus carrying a wreath and a toy trumpet.

South (Watson) Chapel

The Chapel has many memorials of the Watson family. The figure of the Castle’s restorer lies on a tomb in the middle of the Chapel, beside the figure of a lady. Sir Lewis Watson erected this monument after the Civil War. He constructed it probably from the remains of two or more family monuments, following the vandalism of the Parliamentarians, as it is generally believed that the figures came from different monuments.

The lady is believed to be Dorothy Montagu, his grandmother, wife of Edward Watson, and the Knight with spurs – Sir Edward Watson, his father. The panel in front, with figures of children, does not correspond with what is known of the family of either of them. The lady is in Elizabethan dress; the man is carved in alabaster and is wearing armour with chains over his chest.

On the south wall of the Chapel is a large monument on which stands Margaret Watson, who died in 1713, a memorial by William Palmer; this memorial is one of the few Baroque monuments by an English sculptor. It has a standing figure, slender, in a serpentine posture, with a big drapery canopy or baldacchino and fluted Corinthian pilasters to the left and right.

Amongst the single memorials on the walls is one of Grace, wife of 1st Lord Sondes, who died in 1777, and was said to be:

“The best of wives
The best of mothers
The best of women”

A rich colour is added to the Chapel by the window depicting the Ascension of Our Lord; it is in memory of Richard Watson, who died in 1853. The window is of three lights with intersecting cusped tracery and the stained glass is by Hedgeland. High in the south wall are two square-headed windows of two lights. The west window is of similar design but of three lights.

North Chapel and Vestry

The north window is straight headed. It is of four lights with four-centred heads to the lights and sunk spandrels. The east window is of two cinquefoil-headed lights with tracery of a dagger and was originally inserted in the chancel in 1846 before being transferred to its present position in 1868. The roof is of around 1868.

Organ: A recent addition to the Church is the organ, which came from the redundant Church in the Parish of Benwick, Cambridgeshire. It was restored and installed in this Church in memory of Elizabeth Saunders (mother of Commander Michael Saunders Watson – the present owner of Rockingham Castle) by her family in March 1984.

Registers: The Church also has a number of old Registers, which give an interesting insight into the history of the parish. The earliest date in the Registers is 1562. These are lodged at the County Records Office.

North Tower

The lower stage of the tower is square, the upper stage octagonal. It was built in 1845.

North Aisle

There are three windows with depressed heads in the north wall, each with three ogee (double curved) trefoil-headed lights and half-tracery enclosing trefoils. The archway in the east wall is similar to the Chancel arch but smaller. The west window of the aisle is of two ogee trefoil-headed lights with tracery of the quatrefoil. The stained glass is by Kempe and dates from around 1904. The roof is 19th century.

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St Leonards Church

Regular Services

2nd Sunday of the month – Family Service at 3pm (in the Village Hall from January to March)

4th Sunday of the month – Holy Communion at 9am

Please follow this link to our sister church website ( St Columba’s, Corby) to see regular letters from the Rural Dean, Prayers, a Thought for the Day and Sermons.


Rural Dean:
Revd. Canon Ian Pullinger
Phone: 01536 400225 or Email: [email protected]

Church Wardens:
Trevor Burbidge
Phone: 01536 770050 or Email: [email protected]

Donna Winch
Phone: 01536 771023 or Email: [email protected]


Bradley Winch
Phone: 01536 771023 or Email: [email protected]

If you have a query about a Baptism, Wedding, Wedding Blessing or Funeral please contact the Rural Dean as detailed above.

St Leonard’s Church at Rockingham was until 2019 part of the wider benefice of Gretton with Rockingham and Cottingham cum Middleton with East Carlton.  A reorganisation is currently under consideration to join the parish with that of St Columba & the Northern Saints in Corby. As part of the Corby Deanery in the Archdeaconry of Oakham it is one of the many parishes in the Peterborough Diocese of the Church of England.

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Hall History

The Village Hall was originally the old school and was erected by the Hon Richard Watson in 1844, who pioneered rural education in the neighbourhood. The School opened with 90 pupils from neighbouring villages.

As the years passed Rockingham School began to suffer the effects of the very education it had pioneered, and as other schools opened in neighbouring villages the roll began to dwindle, until in 1946 it was left with only 9 children. The authorities regretfully decided to close it in January of that year, the remaining scholars being absorbed by neighbouring Cottingham School.
Since January 1947 the building has been used as our Village Hall.

The Village Hall is a registered charity and is run by a committee of trustees and other volunteers.

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Regular Events

Rockingham Badminton Club – weekly on Monday nights from 7:30 pm

Tuesday Coffee Club –Weekly on Tuesday mornings from 10.00 am

Dog Show – held annually usually on a Sunday in July

Flower & Vegetable Show – held annually, usually on the second or third Saturday of September
For more information on hiring the hall click here
Denise Norman @ 6 The Cottons, Rockingham, LE16 8TF
Phone – 01536 771985
Mail: [email protected]

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Parish Meeting Summary

The present system of Parish Councils and Parish Meetings was established by the Local Government Act 1894, although the parishes and their functions are much older.

Originally the Lord of the Manor would hold Courts to manage the land, rotate agriculture and regulate agricultural jobs.

As the manor courts declined, the influence, wealth and responsibility of the Church increased. Inhabitants began to meet together under the parson’s direction for the social and administrative purposes of their religious life. Such meetings were often held in the Vestry after which they came to be named.

In 1601, the legislators conferred upon vestries the power of levying a poor rate. The nineteenth century saw a major overhaul of the local government system, which in the 1820’s was notorious for inefficiency and corruption and half a century later was notorious for inefficiency and complication. Twenty years of legislation and experiment were required to straighten it out.

The copingstone of the new edifice was the Local Government Act 1894, which took a year to pass and excited much controversy both in Parliament and outside. Gladstone’s government had to deal with over eight hundred amendments.

The Act of 1894 created institutions having a civil origin, status and affiliation – the Parish Meeting and the Parish Council. It transferred the civil functions of the older parish authorities to the new institutions. As a result, the church was excluded from formal participation in local government.

All rural parishes have a Parish Meeting consisting of the local government electors for the parish. Parishes with a population of 200 or more local government electors had a separate Parish Council. Parishes with between 150 and 200 local government electors could have a Parish Council if the Parish Meeting so requested. Parishes with less than 150 local government electors may have a Parish Council if the Parish Meeting so resolves and the District Council so order.

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