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Time out: Famous for merry men

14 June 2011

by Natalie K. Watson


In the East Midlands, on the banks of the River Trent, Nottingham, with its rail and road connections, has more to offer than meets the eye. Well known for both Robin Hood and the Inland Revenue, Notting­ham hides some architectural gems and cultural highlights that are easily overlooked.

What to see and do?

Nottingham Castle dominates the city’s skyline, and can trace its origins back to a wooden castle built on the present site by William the Conqueror in 1067. It has spec­tacu-lar underground caves. It was later rebuilt in stone by Henry II, and Charles I’s raising of the royal stan­dard outside the castle marked the beginning of the English Civil War.

The present building dates back to the 17th century, and was com­mis­sioned by the Duke of Newcastle. In the late 19th century, it was the first municipal art gallery and museum to open its doors outside London.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Barnabas was built by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin in the 19th century, and is considered one of his three most splendid churches.

St Mary’s is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and appears largely as it was in the 14th century, al­though its foundations can be traced back to Norman times. St Peter’s is the oldest building in continuous use in Notting­ham.

At the heart of the city, the Old Market Square, with its notable Port­land stone buildings, is the largest in the UK. The Lace Market area has Victorian red-brick ware­houses that speak of the city’s past as the centre of the lace industry during the days of the British Empire.

The Goose Fair — an annual funfair — takes place in October, although Nottingham offers cultural events for all tastes throughout the year, ranging from high-class pro­duc­tions at the Theatre Royal to the city’s two internationally renowned football teams, Nottingham Forest and Notts County FC. The latter is the world’s oldest fully professional football club.

Food and drink

As well as restaurants for all tastes and budgets, Nottingham has a number of historic pubs, including Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, partly within the caves underneath the castle. It is one of the oldest pubs in England.

Near by

A visit to Nottinghamshire would not be complete without exploring the story of its most famous charac­ters, Robin Hood and the High Sheriff of Nottingham. The recently reopened visitor centre in the Sher­wood Forest National Nature Reserve, near the historic town of Mansfield, offers insights into the story of the famous outlaw.

Southwell Minster is a lesser-known but nevertheless re­mark­able English cathedral.


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