48 hours in…Nottinghamshire
Situated in the very heart of England, the county of Nottinghamshire is known as the land of Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw famous for robbing the rich to feed the poor. The legacy of Robin Hood resonates across the county, from the ancient oak trees of Sherwood Forest to the historic city streets of Nottingham, whose Sheriff was Robin’s main adversary.
One of England’s first industrial towns, Nottingham was an important centre for textile manufacturing. During Victorian times, the world’s finest machine made lace came from Nottingham’s Lace Market. As the industry declined, so did the city’s outlook – but today Nottingham’s many impressive examples of Victorian industrial architecture are the bricks of a rejuvenated city, with former 19th-century warehouse buildings converted into independent bars, restaurants and shops.
2017 is VisitEngland’s ‘Year of Literary Heroes’, and besides originating the myth and legend of Robin Hood, the region has other literary connections. Nottingham’s oldest public park, the Arboretum Park is known to be the place that inspired J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter Pan, while beyond the city is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron and the birthplace of writer D.H. Lawrence. An inspirational place to these great writers, Nottinghamshire is sure to inspire you too. www.experiencenottinghamshire.com
TIME TO CHECK IN:
A 17th-century former farmhouse set in three acres of private grounds to the north of Nottingham, Cockliffe Country House Hotel is undergoing major renovation works, due for completion summer 2017. All guest areas and 11 bedrooms will be luxuriously refurbished, plus there’s a striking new architect designed banqueting room.
A converted Georgian townhouse in central Nottingham, the Lace Market Hotel is a stylish boutique option with 42 bedrooms, a smart restaurant, and its very own pub, the Cock & Hoop for more casual drinking and dining.
Located in Nottingham city centre, Igloo is a cool hostel that pairs vintage and up-cycled furniture with top-notch comforts like memory foam mattresses and flatscreen TV’s. There’s a choice of dorm rooms, sleepboxes, and single, double and family rooms, some with en-suite facilities.
10:00 SEE A CASTLE FULL OF HISTORICAL & ARTISTIC HERITAGE
Nottingham Castle museum & art gallery stands on the site of a 11th-century Norman castle built to establish the rule of law over this notoriously rebellious city – both the city and castle are associated with the legendary outlaw Robin Hood, as well as with significant kings including William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, and Richard III. The present building is an elegant Ducal Palace dating from 1678. Gutted by fire in 1831 by protestors demanding electoral reform, it was remodelled and reopened in 1878 as the first municipal art gallery outside London. Today its collection includes fine works by 17th-century Dutch and Northern European masters, as well as renowned contemporary artists including Grayson Perry, Wolfgang Tillmans and Sam Taylor-Johnson.
12:00 DISCOVER A HIDDEN WORLD BELOW THE CITY
Deep below the city of Nottingham is a hidden world of over 500 manmade caves, many of which date back to medieval times. The soft sandstone bedrock allowed for these hand-carved caves to be excavated. Many were created for use as pub cellars or storerooms, and some have fascinating historical significance. Beneath Nottingham Castle is a labyrinth of manmade caves that are integral to the castle’s history. In 1330, King Edward III is said to have entered the castle via these secret passageways to stage a coup d’état against his mother, Isabella of France and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, who together had conspired to depose and murder his father, Edward II. Mortimer was executed for treason, and his ghost is said to haunt a particular tunnel here known as Mortimer’s Hole. Visitors to Nottingham Castle may join a cave tour for an additional fee.
13:15 HAVE A CURIOUS LUNCH
The quirky Curious Manor and Curious Townhouse are surreal spaces for enjoying anything from brunch to late night cocktails, with menus that include burgers, hand stretched pizzas, and splendid afternoon teas. The latest addition Curious Tavern opened in October 2016, serving traditional tavern fare including freshly shucked oysters and hand-pulled cask stout. It’s also home to a new secret bar called Lost Property.
14:00 TAKE A ROBIN HOOD OR LACE HERITAGE TOUR
An award-winning tour guide, Ezekial Bone is best known for his Robin Hood Town Tour, visiting places throughout historic Nottingham that tell the story of the legendary outlaw. The tour concludes with a tankard of ale at Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, a historic inn dating from 1189 that claims to be the oldest in England. The city became a major centre for textile manufacturing during Victorian times, with the finest machine made lace in the world coming from here. This fascinating period is the subject of the new Nottingham Lace Market Tour, a 90-minute tour that threads its way around the city’s fine Victorian industrial architecture.
16:30 DELVE INTO A LACE ARCHIVE OR A VIDEOGAME MUSEUM
When Nottingham’s lace industry fell into decline, so did the streets surrounding the Lace Market, a neighbourhood known as Hockley. In recent years the area and its well-preserved Victorian buildings has enjoyed a resurgence, and is now home to modern creative and digital industries. Hockley buzzes with pavement cafes and independent shops such as Debbie Bryan, maker of individually hand cast brooches and knitted scarves inspired by British heritage – her studio has regular craft and design classes, and houses a unique Lace Archive. Grand 18th-century Willoughby House is a flagship store of pre-eminent British fashion designer and Nottingham native Paul Smith. Pixelheads may prefer the nostalgia of gaming at the nearby National Videogame Arcade, a playful museum sure to unleash your inner geek.
18:00 TOUR A HAUNTED MUSEUM AFTER DARK
A city associated with the outlaw Robin Hood, it’s appropriate that Nottingham’s National Justice Museum has Britain’s largest collection relating to law, justice, crime and punishment. Formerly the Galleries of Justice Museum, it reopened in April 2017 following a £1million refurbishment. New interactive activities and exhibition spaces now complement the museum’s grand Victorian courtrooms, 17th-century dungeon and 19th-century prison cells. As well as displaying many fascinating artefacts, it’s reputedly one of the world’s most haunted buildings and in 2014 was voted the most haunted building in Britain. Not normally accessible to the general public, its darkest and deepest corners are open for chilling Ghost Tours and Terror Tours on Friday and Saturday nights at 6pm.
19:30 DINE IN AN HISTORIC BOOTS PHARMACY
The Hockley area of Nottingham has many independent eateries, including Michelin Guide listed The Larder on Goosegate, whose daily changing menu is based around seasonal produce. It occupies a Victorian building that was once home to Jesse Boot’s first apothecary – he transformed M & J Boot, founded by his father in Nottingham in 1849, into one of Britain’s best-known high street retailers, and the restaurant décor retains many heritage and architectural features that echo the building’s history. Or enjoy award-winning North Indian cuisine at MemSaab.
09:30 GO IN PURSUIT OF AN OUTLAW
Once part of a royal hunting forest, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve is the legendary stomping ground of Robin Hood. Located 1 hour north of Nottingham by car, the forest covers 450 acres including ancient areas of native woodland. Legend asserts that Robin and his band of Merry Men would hide inside the hollow trunk of an enormous oak tree known as Major Oak, thus evading enemies including the Sheriff Of Nottingham. Standing in the heart of Sherwood Forest, this epic tree is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old, and is so huge that since Victorian times its branches have needed the support of scaffolding. There are numerous trails through the trees and glades, and the forest is free to enter. Held each August is the annual Robin Hood Festival, with live-action re-enactments of Robin Hood’s exploits, plus medieval jousting, jesters and falconry.
12:30 HUNT FOR LUNCH
Robin Hood may have been skilled at archery, but with numerous country inns and restaurants around Sherwood Forest, hunting for lunch with a bow and arrow is no longer necessary. On the edge of the forest, the village of Edwinstowe has excellent options including Launay’s, whose seasonal menu fuses English and French cuisine, and Forest Lodge, an award-winning 18th-century coaching inn.
14:00 TAKE A LITERARY PILGRIMAGE
The famous writer D.H. Lawrence was born in 1885 in a red brick miner’s cottage in Eastwood, 30 minutes north west of Nottingham by car. Now the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, its authentically recreated interiors offer an insight into the writer’s formative years. Awarded a VisitEngland ‘Hidden Gem’ accolade in 2016, it’s also a fascinating snapshot of what life was like in a small mining community during Victorian times. For more literary connections, nearby Newstead Abbey was the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron, and is also open to the public.
If you’d prefer to pamper your body, spend the afternoon at a luxury day spa. Surrounded by countryside in the east of the county, award-winning Eden Hall Day Spa is a peaceful sanctuary set in a beautiful old mansion. Or head farther north to the historic Ye Olde Bell Hotel. This AA 4-star Rosette hotel has a brand new purpose-built £multi-million spa open from Spring 2017, with state-of-the-art amenities including an indoor to outdoor vitality hydropool, Sabbia Med Sunlight Therapy, and Britain’s first and only ‘snowstorm’ spa experience.
19:30 HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DINNER
Head back into Nottingham for a global smorgasbord of drinking and dining options. Nottingham’s newest bar and eatery is Bavarian-style The Bierkeller. Or enjoy world tapas at Bar Iberico, a new and casual sister venue to Iberico, a fine dining restaurant and Nottinghamshire’s only Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand entry.
HOW TO GET HERE:
Nottinghamshire is a county in the heart of England. Its principle city, Nottingham, is 1h 40m north of London by train. Located just over 30 minutes south west of the city, East Midlands Airport is a hub for budget airlines Jet2.com and Ryanair, with flights from many European cities.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com