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People and Places from History in Nottingham

Nottingham may not be the UK’s most famous city internationally, but it has played a big part in the history of the country and deserves more recognition.

The Nottingham Castle

Nottingham has a history of being a city of revolution, one which isn’t afraid to let the authorities know what they think of them. In 1811, Luddites (people opposed to technological change) smashed up lots of knitting frames in opposition to the poor conditions of ordinary people while factory owners got rich from the lace industry. 

20 years later, Parliament rejected the Great Reform Bill, which would have increased the amount of people who can vote, and Nottingham rebelled by burning down the Duke’s castle, as he opposed the bill.

 Nottingham is a symbol of British democracy and belief in equality, and today the renovated Castle is a museum dedicated to the history and art of the city. 

Photo: ‘Nottingham Castle’ by Arran Bee on Flickr.  See licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Robin Hood

Considered a myth, the people of Nottingham might tell you Robin Hood, who lived in nearby Sherwood Forest, was real. If the archer, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, really did live, his spirit is alive in the city of Nottingham, no doubt contributing to its revolutionary instincts. He might not have been a historical figure, but Robin Hood has captured the imaginations of people all around the world, and there would be no Robin Hood without Nottingham. 

Lots of Robin Hoods appeared in Nottingham in 2018 as part of a culture trail, celebrating the city’s most famous resident. Was Robin real? The jury’s out, but we like to think he was.

The Lace Market

Today, the Lace Market is known as the headquarters of many local businesses, gastropubs, and the amazing Annie’s Burger Shack. This area gets its name from the lace industry, which brought lots of money to Nottingham during the Industrial Revolution. Nottingham became famous for its lace products all around the world. 

Once famous for its lace industry, the Lace Market is now known for its stunning architecture and being the home of many small industries and creatives

Famous Writers

Nottingham has contributed so much to world literature that it has recently been made into a UNESCO City of Literature. 

Famous ‘rebel writers’ – who went against conventions of their day – include Lord Byron and DH Lawrence, who both fled the country in scandal.

You can visit Byron’s house at Newstead Abbey and the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum in nearby Eastwood. Also famous is Alan Sillitoe, whose Saturday Night Sunday Morning was turned into a movie, filmed in Nottingham, in 1960. Like Lawrence, he wrote about the lives of ordinary people from towns like Nottingham. 

 Today, Costa Award-Winning writer Jon McGregor teaches at the University of Nottingham.

‘Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know’: Byron’s house at Newstead Abbey

Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem Pub

The Crusades were a series of battles over the ‘Holy Land’ of Jerusalem between 1096 and 1291, with many English kings joining in the battle. Apparently the country’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, beneath the Castle, King Richard the Lionheart and his crusaders are said to have stopped here before travelling to the Middle East to fight. 

Boots

Boots is one of the most successful pharmacy chains in the world, with branches not only all over the UK but also in Ireland, Thailand, South Korea and the Bahamas. Founded by John Boot, his son Jesse, from Nottinghamshire, transformed the small chemists to a brand known all around the world. Jesse Boot is also famous for donating the land that is now Highfields Park to the University of Nottingham, where its University Park Campus now stands.

The Jesse Boot memorial at the University of Nottingham’s University Park Campus

Batman!

More recently, Nottingham’s Wollaton Hall has been used as Wayne Manor in Christopher Nolan’s Batman The Dark Knight trilogy. However, Nottinghamshire has a longer historical connection with the infamous superhero – Batman’s home, Gotham City, is said to be named after the nearby village of Gotham, which according to folklore is a place where fools live.

Wollaton Hall and Deer Park, aka Wayne Manor

This post has been written by Matteo Everett

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