Nottingham is a diverse and interesting place to live. Most people do not realise the rich history of the area, and most foreigners (like me) relate Nottinghamshire to the Robin Hood Tales that have been glorified by Hollywood. As an American, I see things in a different light. I like the weird and wonderful stuff most people do not know. Read on…
It’s Nott all about Robin Hood guys!
Hankies At The Ready!
Nottingham gets its name from Snot. I kid you not! Some Saxon Chieftain named Snot named the area after himself. Snotingaham comes from Ham (homestead), Inga (the people of) and Snot (his name). I wonder if Chieftain Snot had a few little Snots and what he named them – Bogey?! Booger?!
Romans have been known to settle in the area, as well as the Vikings. In fact if you have the time, on the 18th of May 2013 in Sherwood Pines, you can visit an actual Viking ‘Thing’; a kind of Viking ‘assembly’ or meeting place. Archaeologists have discovered Thynghowe; a site in Sherwood Forest where local Vikings would come together to trade and settle their disputes.
Viking ‘Thing’ – A very rustic meeting place!
A Castle, and An Old-Fashioned, Romantic (?) Story
Nottingham does have a castle. Now as far as castles go, it is not your normal, pretty castle. To me it is rather boxy and dare I say, ugly. It is not old either if you consider the ages of other castles. It was built in the mid to late 1600’s as a ducal residence. The castle is situated atop a cliff, that strangely stands out in the middle of nowhere.
Below the castle are many caves. You may remember the movie ‘Braveheart’? You know, Mel Gibson as the title character; with Longshank’s son, Edward II and his wife, Isabella? Well let me tell you, Isabella was rather naughty in real life and had a very torrid love affair with her Mel Gibson-Of-The-Day Mortimer. Many believe she took on her lover owing to her husband preferring the company of men. Anyway, long story short, her lover captured Edward II and had him killed in a rather painfully disgusting way: by having a cow horn shoved up his bottom and a hot poker sealing his insides. Her son, Edward III, decided enough was enough and captured naughty Isabella and her beloved Mortimer under Nottingham Castle, in one of the many thousands of caves that the area is famous for. In fact, one cave is named Mortimer’s Cave, and if you listen closely, you can almost hear Isabella sobbing in the cave.
Nottingham’s famous caves – great for a game of ‘Hide & Seek’!
Unique Pubs To Enjoy A Local Brew
Below the castle, in several of those caves is a spectacular find. ‘Ye Old Trip To Jerusalem’, which was established in 1189AD, and is the oldest-running Inn in England. They brew their own bitter and you can actually sit inside a cave to enjoy your pint. Just be sure to not get too close to the ‘Haunted Galleon’; which is kept under glass. For those of you not in the know, the ‘Haunted Galleon’ is a model of a ship that was found caked in layers of dust. Every single person that has touched it has died. There has been several attempts to ‘cleanse’ it both physically and spiritually with very ominous results…
Whatever you do, don’t touch the boat!
Another pub, located near the castle, is a delightful inn named ‘ Archangel Gabriel Saluted the Blessed Virgin Mary’. Or, as the locals affectionately call it, the Sal (short for The Salutation). The building dates to the mid 1200’s and has four resident ghosts, including a very sad little girl. Nothing like sitting back, slurping on your pint, watching an unhappy child shimmer in and out of existence. Personally, I think the people that have ‘seen’ her have had one too many, but who knows. This article is making me a tad thirsty. Maybe I should do some research and get back to you on this one…
A great event to visit in Nottingham is the ‘Goose Fair’; which usually happens the first week of October. It began in the 1200’s, when farmers tarred the feet of their geese and walked them to market. You cannot buy a goose now, however, your coin will purchase yummy temptations such as Mushy Peas and Cock-On-A-Stick (not as naughty as it sounds; it is simply a hard toffee lolly, in the shape of a rooster). There are also rides galore and plenty of fun games to choose from. Nottingham was once very famous for its lace markets.
Lord Byron also called Nottingham home; his most beloved dog, Boatswain, is buried at the now ruined, Newstead Abbey. Boatswain died of rabies and his epitaph is actually larger than Byron’s personal one! Byron lived at the Abbey on and off throughout his life and is buried in nearby Hucknell. Not far from Hucknell is Bestwood Park, amongst its previous residents are the infamous Nell Gwynn and Charles II. Nell had a habit of sleeping in late and missing the hunts; one morning Charles said to Nell he would give her all the land she could ride around before breakfast. So Nell, being smarter than your average hen, got up really early the next day and rode in a huge circle dropping handkerchiefs here and there. By the time the King was up, she was already seated and eating. The King, who was highly impressed with her mission, gave her the entire area enclosed by the handkerchiefs; the area now known as Bestwood Park. At his death, he bequeathed it to their illegitimate son, who became the first Duke of St Alban.
Nell – Not simple at all.
Nottingham is rich in history. Maybe not as interesting as London or Stonehenge, but if you dig about, I am sure you will find something that will grab your fancy. I think I may go explore that pint at the Sal and see if there are little girly ghosts running amuck.