A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOWN
Uppingham derives its name from 'Ham of the Yppingas' or 'People of the Upland', situated as it is high on a ridge. It is not recorded in the Domesday Book, but was linked with the nearby manor of Preston. In 1488 they combined to become Preston-cum-Uppingham. Throughout the Middle Ages the town became known for the production of turned wooden tableware, made probably in the nearby Forest of Leighfield. Later local quarries provided stone which was made into troughs which became quite a thriving industry. The reddish stone from which most Uppingham buildings are constructed is locally quarried ironstone, and the remains of these quarries can still be found on the edges of the town.
Uppingham market received its charter in 1281, and Uppingham rapidly became a major trading centre for the area. Its market extended all over the town, and many inns became established to cater for the needs of visitors.
In the nineteenth century, Uppingham became a well-known centre for entertainment, which in those days meant bull-baiting, performing bears and cock-fighting, all of which took place on a regular basis. Carts were arranged in a circle in the market square to provide an arena.
The history of the town cannot be separated from the history of Uppingham School, which has had a profound effect on the prosperity of the town since the nineteenth century. The school was founded in the sixteenth century by Archbishop Johnson, but it was not until the arrival in Uppingham of Edward Thring in the nineteenth century that it developed dramatically. The main school building itself occupies a considerable area to the west of the town. There are many other buildings scattered throughout the town and the surrounding area which belong to the school - boarding houses, theatre, sports centre, playing fields, sanatorium etc. This rapid development must have contributed significantly to the growth of trade in the town, which could explain why the present-day town boasts so many shops catering for everyday needs in addition to the numerous art galleries, antiques shops, book shops and gift shops for which Uppingham has become well-known.
The industrial revolution affected Uppingham very little, and much of what you see today was here in Queen Victoria's day. Until the 1960s North Street (just a hundred yards or so from the town centre) was the main road from Leicester to Peterborough, before the A47 by-pass was built. The main road from Oakham to Corby passes along Orange Street, which was until the 1960s a single track road, controlled by traffic lights. The junction with High Street was an awkward dog-leg, but a building next to Baines' bakery and another opposite next to Magpie Gallery were demolished to allow the widening of Orange Street, and the straightening-out of the junction.
The town still retains its ancient mediaeval road plan. Originally High Street was the main road through the town with two parallel backways (now North Street and Spring Back Way) giving access to the common land outside the town. North Street became the main road through the town, and this was superseded in the 1980s by the new bypass.
In recent years, Uppingham has retained its old-fashioned charm and its importance as a market town. Of course, the days when the market filled the town have gone but Uppingham still attracts shoppers from the surrounding villages, and is increasingly attracting greater numbers of tourists
UPPINGHAM is a quintessential English market town, well-endowed with a variety of shops. It boasts three second-hand bookshops, several antiques shops and quality gift shops, an antiques centre, several pubs, tea rooms - in fact everything that you need for a good day out.
It is, of course, famous for its 400-year old public school, which dominates the town