Tours > Robin Hood's Nottingham > Nottingham
Fifteen miles east of Derby (572399)
Nottingham is a vast city, justly proud of its Robin Hood connection. Where else would you begin a tour of places associated with the man? Parking is extensive and well sign-posted. If you want to be close to the key area for outlaw enthusiasts, follow signs to the Castle and 'Tales of Robin Hood,' but don't miss the further Hood-sites dotted around the city centre.
Nottingham comes across as a thoroughly modern city: an excellent place for shopping or eating and meeting friends. At its centre stands the grand domineering Council House, built by Cecil Howitt in the 1920s. It houses a delightful fresco depicting Robin and his men within its cupola and the ten-ton hour bell in the dome is called 'Little John'. On its north side is the local tourist information centre who will be happy to help your find your way around the city.
In front of the Council House is the expansive open space of the Old Market Square. In 1155, King Henry II issued a town charter establishing two markets to be held here and it was to one of these that Robin Hood once came disguised as a potter. An old ballad tells how he sold his pots to the Sheriff's wife in a carefully planned ruse to draw her husband out into the nearby forest for the sport of his Merry Men. The hoodwinked couple would have lived in 'The Red Lodge' which stood at the end of adjoining Angel Row. It was the Constable who stayed at the Castle. Nottingham's 'St. Matthew's Fair' was also held in the Market Square, every 27th September, and this was, traditionally, the scene of the Sheriff's famous archery competition to win a gold and silver arrow. It was a trap, of course, to capture Robin Hood but the outlaw won the competition and still got clean away. The fair later became known as the 'Goose Fair' and, though still held, has since moved out to the Forest Recreation Ground.
On the west side of the Market Square, in Beastmarket Hill, stands the Bell Inn. It is said to be built around the refectory of an old Carmelite Friary. Was this the original home of Friar Tuck perhaps? Hen Cross, the south-eastern road-junction behind the Council House, was the site of an ancient poultry market and, here, Robin came spying in the guise of a chicken vendor.
Next Stop: St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
Click to review The History of Robin Hood