On my recent trip to the UK (June 2012) I stayed in Nottingham a city in the East Midlands area of the country. Nottingham is a place that will forever be linked to the legend of Robin Hood and the nearby Sherwood Forest. This was not the reason I was there, that was to go to the Download music festival in nearby Donington (more on that in a future post), but it did provide an interesting diversion on a spare afternoon in this nice little city!
Apart from Robin Hood, the city has a long history going back to 600 AD that has involved Saxons, Danish Vikings and eventually the Anglo-Saxons that built Nottingham Castle in 1068 AD (remodelled in 1678). During the Third Crusade period (1189-1192) the castle was occupied by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and was later captured by Prince John who was staging a rebellion against Richard The Lionheart (1157-1199 – King of England from 1189 to upon his death caused by a wound from an assassins arrow in 1199).
When Richard returned from the crusades he put the castle under siege and eventually captured it (despite this, following Richards death Prince John, an heir to the throne became the King of England 1199 to upon his death due to illness in 1216). Do these names all sound familiar? They all feature heavily in the legend of Robin Hood and the castle was the scene of the final battle between Robin Hood and the sheriff in the famous tales.
Robin Hood is said to have been a heroic thief that along with his “Merry Men” took from the rich and gave to the poor. They hid out in Sherwood Forest. The tales and ballads of Robin Hood started in Medieval times (surviving written references date back to around 1377 AD and the earliest tales are said to be quite bloody including beheadings!). He has become an enduring tale that is still told today across all forms of media including a lot of movies!
Nottingham does not miss out on this legend and of numerous Robin Hood related places to visit, next to Nottingham Castle are statues and plaques dedicated to the legend. Unfortunately I did not have time to take a trip out to Sherwood Forest.
At the foot of the castle is the Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, said to be the oldest inn/pub in the England dating back to 1189 AD (the current pubs structure from the 1600’s is built around and incorporates the original brewery tunnels and caves). This was the time of Richard the Lionheart and co, so it all fits in nicely with the history of Nottingham and legend has it that during the crusades the Knights rallied at the castle and would enjoy the hospitality of the inn before setting off for Jerusalem.
In addition to the history and legends of the city, Nottingham has a nice central area around the old Market Square with plenty of shops, restaurants etc. plus an impressive city hall. Known as the Nottingham Council House (completed 1929), it is a large domed building that dominates the local skyline and during my visit it was all decked out for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (celebrating 60 years on the throne).