In search of robin hood

This Guide sets out to provide a relaxed day out for visitors in Nottinghamshire to investigate for themselves the locations in the county, which are associated with the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. It is suggested that, provided the base is Mansfield, the visitor starts at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre at Edwinstowe, a village traditionally linked with Robin Hood.

The village is about seven miles from Mansfield and is easily reached using the A6O Road to Mansfield Woodhouse, and then taking the A6075 to Edwinstowe where the Visitor Centre is clearly marked.

However, before going to the Visitor Centre, a look at St Mary’s Church in Edwinstowe is really a ‘must’ for those who are interested in the story of Robin Hood .

A notice prominently displayed at the back of the church (on Church Street itself) proclaims that this was s the church where Robin Hood and Maid Marion were married, so many years ago

The easiest entrance to the Church is from the parking lot at the Church Farm Workshops – access from Mansfield Road. Incidentally the Church Farm also includes a cafe.

Included among the facilities at the Visitor Centre itself are an exhibition about Robin Hood, a studio for talks and slide-shows, a tourist information centre, and a cafe for snacks. After the visitor has finished here a walk to the Major Oak is the next activity – the ancient tree which is about half a mile’s journey away, and well sign-posted. Perhaps another mile from there was another named tree – Robin Hood’s Lardar – which is now unfortunately no more, having collapsed about thirty years ago.

The walk back from the Major Oak may induce an appetite, and a good meal may be had at the Maid Marion Restaurant in Church Street, opposite the back of the church. There are other sources of food in the village, such as cafes, snack bars and pubs, most of which are within easy reach of the church. There are others in the High Street itself.

After lunch our next port of call is King John’s Palace, now sadly a ruin, which is situated in a field in Old Clipstone. This is reached by taking the B6030 road from Edwinstowe to Mansfield. King John’s Palace was at one time an important hunting lodge for English Kings, though its current aspect is not really impressive. On the way to Old Clipstone, using the B6034, one passes the Robin Hood Pub, one of a number of local hostelries named after the Merry Men.

Our quest continues to Blidworth via the A617 and the B6020. Blidworth Church stands in the old part of the village, on a hill, and in the church Yard is the tomb of Will Scarlett, one of the Merry Men. The tomb can be seen at the gate out of the old church yard near the water tap.

It is not far from here to Papplewick Church which has further associations with Robin. The roads to follow are the B6020, left onto the A60 and the right onto the B683. On the way, though, notice the Little John pub and restaurant which offers good food and some interior decoration in connection with Robin Hood.

At this point another Robin Hood connection should be mentioned. The B683 meets the A60 at Larch Farm, and a mile north on the A60, and off to the east lies Fountain Dale, once part of an area covered by Blidworth Forest. Now close to the site of The Portland Training College, legend says that Friar Tuck lived here in Fountain Dale, enshrined in the names Friar Tuck’s Walk and Friar Tuck’s Well. Fountain Dale is situated on the path of the official walking tour which can be followed in the area, known as Robin Hood Way, details of which can be obtained from the Edwinstowe Visitor Centre and also from “The Tales of Robin Hood” in Nottingham.

In the churchyard at Papplewick Robin Hood is said to have fashioned his first bow from the large Yew tree which stands near the front door of the church. Papplewick Church stands quite a distance form the road, and is at the beginning of the village as you come in along the B683. Allen-a-Dale also has associations with Papplewick Church.

Proceeding along the B683, our next port of call is the City of Nottingham, with its Castle and the audio visual experience ‘Tales of Robin Hood’. This is situated, appropriately enough, on Maid Marion Way, which is located near the centre of Nottingham, and is easily reached from any of the centre city car parks. This facility offers the visitor a number of attractions, including historical memorabilia, an audio visual show, a reminder of some of` the Robin Hood films,entertainment for children, a shop, (which sells a number of` books containing histories and local speculations on the Robin Hood legend), a restaurant,and in fact it provides a very interesting collection of Robin Hood lore. It also contains a reminder of nearby Robin Hood associations, not least of which is Nottingham Castle.

Nottingham Castle is five minutes walk from the Tales of Robin Hood, and while the Castle contains, and is a reminder of a number of attractions, the main Robin Hood connection is that the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin’s arch-enemy, lived there.

Apart from its art gallery, and the fine view of the Nottingham environs, there is in its depths a tunnel, called Mortimer’s Hole, which survives from medieval times. The castle is also noteworthy for its fine statue of Robin on the eastern boundary, a much photographed attraction. The Castle has been rebuilt at least twice since the times of Robin Hood, and the current edifice dates from the seventeenth century.

Not directly connected with Robin but of interest because they date back to the times of Robin are the two inns, The Trip to Jerusalem and the Old Salutation Inn . The Trip is a mere two hundred yards down the road from the castle, and the Salutation’s rearward extension backs onto Maid Marion Way. Also in central Nottingham, and with Robin Hood connections, is St. Mary’s Church, where, it is said, Robin fought and killed a number of the Sheriff’s men.This Church is is in the Saxon part of the city, near the old Lace Market, and is about half a mile’s walk from the Castle, in an easterly direction, that is, on the far side of the Council House and Market Square.

In the centre of Nottingham there are a large number of eating places, ranging from simple snack bars to pub meals and up-market restaurants. So, for the hungry, after a day following the steps of Robin Hood, there is ample opportunity to sit down and consider what has been discovered and learned about that most interesting of legendary heroes, Robin Hood.

One interesting location that has not been mentioned and has come into existence since this article was originally written is “The World of Robin Hood” which is on a farm site on the B6387 road from Walesby to Retford in the north part of the county. This really requires a separate visit on its own. Here medieval history is brought to life as you experience an adventure in sound and vision, giving realism to the era of Robin Hood. Also on the site are licensed bars, a cafe and restaurant and craft and souvenir shops.