Legends, Poems and Pubs
Nottingham was a major settlement even in Anglo-Saxon times, became one of the five Danelaw towns of the East Midlands when it was captured by the Vikings in the 9th century, and was made a castle town by William the Conqueror in 1067, but its greatest historical claim to fame still lies in Sherwood Forest, the setting of the celebrated legend of Robin Hood.
Check into Hart’s Hotel on Standard Hill; set adjacent to the park, it’s full of airy, modern, calm spaces and its contemporary British restaurant boasts the city’s most scenic dining experience on its private garden terrace.
Nottingham Castle once stood on the ridge overlooking the town, and the remaining fragments were incorporated into the mannerist-style ducal mansion, built in the 17th century, which still stands today. It’s worth a visit for its collection of ancient armour and tapestries and its decorative and fine art exhibitions, not to mention the medieval caves and tunnels beneath, which extend all the way to the River Trent (though most of them are not accessible by the public). If you manage to find your way out by lunchtime, stop off at the Trip to Jerusalem inn, built into the castle cliff. Locally known as the ‘cinder box’, it has a reputation for ghostly goings-on, which isn’t surprising since it dates back to 1187 and has plenty of colourful stories to its name.
We whiled away the afternoon in the historic Lace Market area; where the lace industry once thrived in Victorian times, you can now discover a selection of boutiques and quirky emporia which have sprung up around the Nottingham Textile College, alongside some beautiful 19th century buildings and a dense population of pubs and bars. There are also the old Galleries of Justice to explore – creepy, evocative courts and prisons with gory, ghoulish guided tours to appeal to younger visitors.
Try the elegant, heritage-conscious World Service Restaurant for dinner; book in advance for more modern British fare in a colonial-style setting.
We set out early on our second morning for an exploratory ramble in mysterious Sherwood Forest; the ancient Major Oak, said to have hidden Robin himself from the Sheriff’s men on many suspenseful occasions, stands surrounded by acres of protected pine, oak and birch woodland and there’s a royal deer park and Lord Byron’s romantic, imposing Newstead Abbey to see as well, all within half an hour’s drive from the city centre.
Book a table on the lawn behind Langar Hall for lunch (or in the pretty garden room if it’s raining).
Departed from: London
By: Hire car
Duration: 2 days
Car hire: £141
Two nights' B&B and one dinner at Hart's: £220
Admission to Nottingham Castle and the Castle Caves: £3.50
Admission to the Galleries of Justice: £8.50
Lunch at the Trip to Jerusalem: £18
Dinner at the World Service: £44
Admission to Newstead Abbey house and gardens: £7
Sunday Roast at Langar Hall: £27.50
TOTAL: £469.50 (All costs are given per person, based on two sharing.)
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