About the Route
THE ROBIN HOOD CONNECTIONS WITHIN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Listed below are some of Robin Hood’s Haunts in the County. We must point out however some of these sites are on private land. We therefore stress they are only listed here for your information and trespassing is strongly discouraged at all times. It is the intention of our Association to lead walks that may visit some of the private sites, if allowed by the owners.
This is not the castle of medieval times,but the former palace of the Duke of Newcastle, built in 1679, seriously damaged by the Reform Bill Rioters in 1831 and restored in 18758 as a Museum. Among its specialities are the Gibb Collection of English silver, a collection of paintings by local artists of national repute, and medieval Nottingham alabaster carvings. Excavations have brought to light some parts of the original Castle, which are now open to the public. One of the main attractions is the conducted tour of the series of caves in the sandstone rock on which the Castle stands. (Details from the Castle) The Castle Gateway, restored medieval, incorporates a shop devoted to the sale of Robin Hood souvenirs. The Castle Green near the gatehouse (inside the castle grounds) stands above the inner bailey of the castle. The outline of the Royal Castle has been marked out following excavation.
This open grassy area stands in the dry outer moat of the Castle. The large arch over the moat replaced the drawbridge. On the lawn stands a controversial statue of Robin Hood by James Woodford (a local sculptor) which was placed here in 1952, with plaques depicting other members of his ‘Band.’ The castle lawn stands on the site of the former riding school.
TRIP TO JERUSALEM INN
Dating from A.D. 1189, it claims to be the oldest Inn in England. Some of the rooms are built into the Castle rock.
Reputed to be the meeting house of the Carmelites (White Friars) and the Franciscans (Grey Friars) Built in 1240.
High in the cupola of the Council House arcade Robin Hood appears in one of the four frescoes which highlight major events in the city’s history. (The others are the capture of the town by the Danes, William the Conqueror ordering the building of the castle, and Charles I raising his standard in 1642 at the start of the Civil War). In the dome above is Little John the massive hour bell of the clock. The arcade replaced a medieval passage behind the old Exchange called the Shambles, so called because the Butchers’ Stalls were there.
THE GREAT MARKET PLACE
The Old Market Square was the Saturday Market Place from at least the 1150’s until 1928. It originally stretched from High Street behind the Council House, to Chapel Bar, and covered about 5½ acres. There was a wall down the middle, first mentioned in 1530, and finally removed in 1728. It separated the corn, malt and hardware etc. on the north from the livestock on the south. Some research suggests it separated the two burghs.
BESTWOOD LODGE & PARK
This originally consisted of 4000 unfenced acres of Sherwood Forest, was mentioned in Domesday Book, and has been connected with royalty since 1160. It was lent to nobility and gentry for centuries and in 1683 was granted to Nell Gwynne’s illegitimate son, the first Duke of St. Albans, and remained in the possession of successive Dukes until it was sold in 1938. During this time the Estate was one of the most brilliant social centres in the country. In recent years it has been disturbed by coal mining, but the former tip has been grassed over and the site is now a country park. Bestwood Lodge, now a Hotel, was built in 1862 by the 10th Duke on the site of a former hunting lodge. It has statues of some of the Sherwood Forest outlaws, similar to those to be found later on the way at Archway House and is one of the best examples in Nottinghamshire of the high Victorian Mansion on a lavish site.
NOTTINGHAM TO MANSFIELD OLD ROAD
The ancient road from Nottingham to Mansfield ran by the side of Bulwell Forest and Bestwood Park through Papplewick and Newstead Abbey over the footpath now known locally as “Up the ladder and down the wall”, and continued through the area known as Thieves Wood into Mansfield via Russley Lodge. It was closed in 1760 by an Act of Parliament, one argument for its closure being that many travellers lost their way on it. In the times of Robin Hood, the road would have been all in Sherwood Forest and to travel between the two places would have been an extremely hazardous task to say the least!! A turnpike road was created from Larch Farm, to replace the old road.
BEAUVALE PRIORY AND ROBIN HOOD’S WELL
The remains of Beauvale Priory are visible from the road. It was founded in 1343 by Nicholas de Cantelupe, a great soldier and friend of Edward Ill, whose castle was at Greasley, a mile away. Robin Hood’s Well is situated in High Park Wood behind the Priory ruins. Both these sites are on PRIVATE LAND with no public access.
This is the church where legend says that Robin Hood’s minstrel AlanaDale was married by Little John. Note also this church contains early medieval grave slabs for forest wardens. They are carved with bow and arrow, sling, knife and hunting horn.
ROBIN HOOD’S STABLES
A well hidden cave in the sandstone near the Lodge of Papplewick Hall, is said to be the place where Robin Hood hid his horses when visiting Nottingham. This is on PRIVATE LAND. Permission to view may be obtained in advance only by SAE and written application to The Occupier, Re Robin Hood’s Stables, The Hermitage, Blidworth Way Papplewick, Nottingham NG15 8FR
ROBIN HOOD HILLS
Range of sandstone hills stand close to Annesley. At the most easterly point of these, standing high up is a flat rock known as Robin Hood’s Seat. From here one is able to obtain a fine vista of the surrounding countryside, and Robin would have had an excellent view as people travelled along Robbers Road. He would be able to plan his attack before they went into the Thieve’s Wood area. Tradition is that Robin had a cave close by, if this is so the only trace remaining was a hollow in the ground which has now disappeared. Close by on the golf course fairway is the source of the River Leen and also Hollinwell, a site where Robin and his men would have often visited to take drinks. All these sites are on PRIVATE LAND.
As its name implies this wood was once infamous as a hiding place for thieves who would rob travellers journeying between Nottingham and Mansfield. Tradition also says that Robin Hood is said to have rescued maidens kidnapped from Mansfield in these woods.
This is an area well worth a visit park your car at the Greenwood Craft Centre adjacent to the Portland Training College Gift Shop. Many stories relate the circumstances of the famous first meeting between Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, which is reputed to have happened in this Dale. One tells of how Robin came across the Friar asleep by the stream where he was fishing. He woke him and forced the Friar to ferry him across the water on his back. Half way across the Friar tipped Robin into the water and a fight began that lasted for hours. At the end of it both men were utterly exhausted but each had earned the other’s respect and they became firm friends. Another states the two men met in the middle of a narrow bridge over the stream. Neither would concede passage, so a fight with quarter staff’s began. The outcome was the same as previously mentioned. A further story states that the Friar found Robin wounded and delirious, unable to return to his camp in Sherwood. Friar Tuck nursed him back to health and during this period of convalescence their friendship developed. They became allies and the Friar returned with Robin to join his Robber Band.
The Friar is supposed to have lived as a hermit in a cave which was sited in the area of Cave Pond. Friar Tuck’s Well is also in the Dale, this can still be seen though it is now somewhat overgrown. Through the dale once ran an old forest road and at a point along this track, according to legend, was a tax point, where the Sheriff’s Men collected revenue for King John from the local forest folk.
Is deep in old forest lore. The villages of Blidworth, Fishpool, Farnsfield and Larch Farm each provided 100 head of live deer per annum to be kept at Fountain Dale until required by the Crown for both table and hunting. Nearby at Haywood Oaks King John’s hunting lodge was situated. It is reputed that Maid Marian’s dwelling was in the old village yard close to the church and from here Robin took her away to be married at Edwinstowe. Blidworth would have been one of the important forest townships of this time, being set in the heart of medieval Sherwood Forest. It is of interest that the Dover beck was in medieval times a navigable river from the River Trent as far as Blidworth Bottoms.
ROBIN HOOD HILL (Oxton)
This Iron age settlement standing high above the village of Oxton would have been close to the boundary of Sherwood Forest which followed the Dover Beck. The views from the summit are excellent and would have assisted our hero in his travels through the forest.
The church of St. Mary was mentioned in Domesday Book. The present church was begun about 1775 and has a fine ‘broach’ spire. Inside the church is the “Sherwood Forest Measure”, the ‘foot’ measure used for measuring forest lands it is 1 ½ feet long! According to legend Robin Hood married Maid Marian in the church.
EDWINSTOWE or Edenstou
Is a very ancient royal village, named after Edwin, King of Northumbria in the 7th Century. A local Guide is published which is available at the visitor centre and the village has refreshment and accommodation facilities.
SHERWOOD FOREST AND VISITOR CENTRE
Much has been written about this most famous woodland and we will content ourselves with a very few notes. In the Middle Ages, “Forests“ included woodland, agricultural lands, villages and even whole towns. Sherwood extended from Conjure Alders to Wellow, south to the Dover Beck, then to the Trent, along the Trent to Nottingham, then north via Wilford and Annesley to Mansfield, then via Warsop to “Coningswath”, about 100,000 acres. What is now known as Sherwood Forest is a 450 acre woodland, mostly oak, to the north and west of Edwinstowe. After the Forest ceased to be a royal hunting forest in mid 17th century, large areas were cleared. Many older trees are now hollow and others have a bare appearance at their tops due to rotting, giving them the name of “stagheaded oaks”. There are other species of trees and bushes in the present forest, as well as an abundance of animal, bird and insect life. For further reading, consult the bookshop at the Visitor Centre, which was established by Notts County Council, and also has restaurants and exhibitions about the Forest and Robin Hood. In the summer, film/slide shows and talks are held at weekends, details of which can be obtained from the Centre, along with numerous leaflets and other sources of information. The Forest Rangers are based here and often lead guided walks.
The largest oak tree in England, perhaps in the world, this famous tree has withstood lightning, the drying out of its roots and even a fire. The hollow tree has a circumference of 10 metres and the spread of its branches makes a ring 85 metres round. The cavity in the trunk is 2 metres in diameter and it is said that Robin Hood (and some of his men) used to hide here. The tree has had to be fenced off to preserve it the combined weight of the many thousands of visitors was compacting the soil around it, so that water could not penetrate to the roots.
KING JOHN’S PALACE
Although these remains are called King John’s Palace, they possibly date from the time of King Edwin, the first Christian King of Northumbria. Richard the Lion Heart talked here with William the Lion of Scotland on his return from the Crusades in 1194. Tradition states the King held hostages in the Palace and on hearing that Robin Hood was quartered at Creswell Crags led his men to the area to make what he hoped was the ultimate capture. Somehow Robin Hood heard of the attempt and the outlaws came to the Palace in the disguise of minstrels “invited by the King”. They persuaded a steward to give up the keys to the dungeons and were able to release the prisoners. The King, on returning from his fruitless task,discovered that his prisoners had escaped. The Duke of Portland is said to have used some of the stones from the Palace in the making of a flood dyke which runs through the fields on the opposite side of the road. The ruins are now preserved but they stand on PRIVATE LAND and therefore can only be viewed from the roadside.
ROBIN HOOD’S LARDER
This was an oak tree situated a mile west of the Major Oak, latterly the tree was secured by iron bands and hawsers, where Robin Hood hung venison to dry, but unfortunately, is no longer visible having been blown down in the 1960’s. This site cannot be visited as it is on Private land.
Centre Tree This is believed to mark the centre of Sherwood Forest. The ' ride ' going due south from here is “The Neutral Ground”, a strip of land between the Thoresby and Welbeck Estates.
This building, also known as the Duke’s Folly, was built by the Duke of Portland in 1842, as a copy of the Gatehouse to Worksop Priory. The facade has a number of interesting sculptures, including statues of Robin Hood and several of his associates. Similar statues are found at Bestwood Lodge on the outskirts of Nottingham. The walls are buttressed and there are traceried windows on both sides of the central arch. The house was once used as a school and is now a residence. The turf `ride’ running through the Archway was intended to enable the Duke to drive from Welbeck to Nottingham.
Parliament Oak So called because it is though that Edward 1 held Parliament under his tree in the year 1290. Another story relates that King John once held a meeting with the nobles of the land on this site, during a royal hunt in the forest, to discuss news received of a revolt in the Welsh Borders.
Tradition says in this town the people never locked the doors of their homes because Robin Hood was always welcomed.
The huge Sherwood Forest in the time of Robin Hood began to decline in the 14th Century when the newly founded religious houses of Newstead, Rufford and Welbeck formed enclosures of land, felled and sold timber and tracts of land were let for farming use. By 1683, when the first of the private parks was established, most of the native royal forest had gone. The principal estates created were: Welbeck The Dukes of Portland, Clumber The Dukes of Newcastle, Thoresby The Dukes of Kingston (later Earl Manvers). Not considered part of the Dukeries, as the area became known, was Lord Saville’s home Rufford Abbey. This park also covered a large piece of the former forest.
The formation of these Ducal Estates did achieve one notable thing, the protection of this area of woods and open parkland for us all to enjoy today.
Home of the Manvers family. In the forecourt stands a statue of the outlaw hero, by TussardBirt, a grandson of Madam Tussard.
ROBIN HOOD’S CAVE
This name is given to a small cave in the outcrop of Bunter Sandstone near Walesby International Scout Camp. The rock forms a low cliff on the bank of the river Maun. It is, to be honest, difficult to conceive of the cave sheltering Robin Hood, or indeed anyone.
This lovely limestone gorge, through which the NottsDerbys, border runs, is one of the oldest known inhabited places in Britain. There are numerous caves on both sides of the little valley, in which the remains of modern man in Britain, after whom a whole culture has been named the Creswelian Culture dating back 13000 years. The caves were also inhabited by Neanderthal Man some 60000 years ago. As recently as 1978 a rock fall uncovered new remains dating back 8500 years, including artefacts and numerous bones, among them an almost complete skull of a wolf. The area was frequented by Robin Hood, and one of the caves bears his name. For fuller information, consult the Visitor Centre.
Steetley Church A Norman church established in about 1150 and referred to in Sir Waiter Scotts Ivanhoe as Copmanhurst. The clerk was Friar Tuck. He entertained, as tradition says, the Black Prince (King Richard I) at Steetley, when the church would have been half a century old. It is situated two miles from Worksop. Steetley Church is considered the finest village church example of Norman architecture and is well worth a visit being just in Derbyshire.
WORKSOP PRIORY (church of Our Lady and St. Cuthbert)
This pre conquest church with two tower facade was rebuilt in 1103 by Augustinian Canons. It has a unique traditional Norman Nave, and a late 12th century lancet Gothic Lady chapel. The Gatehouse is the only wayside shrine and chapel in England. It was built in 1314. There is a small museum being developed inside and is open at certain times.