An Easter visit to Nottingham

Earlier I shared the story of Rowan the dog who ate all the Easter eggs. He belonged to our friends who lived in Nottingham. For children our age Nottingham meant one thing, Robin Hood!! I’m not sure how old I was when we first went to stay with our friends, maybe about eight? I was so excited – excited to see them of course, but also we were going to the land of a childhood hero, the leader of his merry men whose names were as familiar as those of our classmates – Will Scarlet, Alan-a Dale, Little John, Friar Tuck, Much the Miller’s son and his mortal enemies the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham and the even more dastardly Prince John – oh and his beloved Maid Marian.

I can imagine my sister and I singing the theme from the TV programme all the way up to Nottingham… how tedious for our parents!

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men
Feared by the bad, loved by the good
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood

We knew all the scenes where the action had taken place, t Sherwood Forest of course and the log bridge over the stream where Little John had challenged Robin to a fight with staves, the Major Oak where Robin and various outlaws hid from the evil sheriff, Nottingham Castle, various caves, villages, inns and markets… We knew them all!

On that first visit, and probably every subsequent one, we visited those places… of course we knew they would be nothing like what we had seen on TV most of which was probably filmed in a studio, but I think I was a little disappointed that the castle wasn’t more castle-y. However I was mighty excited to visit the wonderful Major Oak, a might tree which had lost is inner core so we could go and hide inside it, just like Robin and his chums. These days to protect it there is fencing all around it – and so there should be, it’s truly a national treasure! it’s probably between eight hundred and a thousand years old, so if the legend of Robin Hood is true then this cannot have been Robin’s tree as it would not have been big enough to have a hollowed out centre by his time (probably in the 1190’s if King Richard was on the throne at that time.) The Major Oak weighs about 23 tons, has a girth of 33 feet and a canopy of 92 feet!

Nottingham Castle, despite by childhood disappointment that it looked nothing like castles I’d seen in films or imagined from all the books I’d read, is actually a very interesting castle built on a rocky promontory called Castle Rock, with a long, maybe pre-Norman history. After the Conquest a wooden castle was thrown up on a motte with a bailey around it, immediately after the invasion, in 1067. The same thing happened across the country, motte and bailey castles built in key towns to suppress the English people. If Robin Hood really had existed in the time of Richard I, the stone castle would have been very new as it was built by Henry II, Richard’s father. Apparently it was a magnificent and elaborate building, and it did indeed have connections with Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham! The castle we see now is a remodelled version from the seventeenth century.

For our children, I think they will remember Easter time as when we went away with our cousins for a week long family holiday. Unfortunately, for various reasons this hasn’t happened this year… but fingers crossed that it might happen again next year or some time in the future!

One of the lovely places we stayed on our  family Easter hols!

I’m sorry I have no pictures of Nottingham, my featured image is of a Yorkshire cottage near where we were on holiday one year.

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