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Tours > Robin Hood's Nottingham > Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle
In Nottingham, off Castle Road (569395)

Nottingham Castle Gateway The original castle at Nottingham was a wooden structure built in the earliest Norman times, on the high crag above the town. Despite being defended on the south side by the River Leen, King Henry I felt it prudent to replace the curtain wall with stone in 1170. The whole structure followed this same route under Henry II and by the 13th century it was a powerful midland stronghold.

Prince (later King) John spent a lot of time here while his brother, Richard I, was away on Crusade. From the battlements, he hanged two Welsh boys whom he was holding as hostages and a curse has hung over the building ever since. Richard I, on returning from Crusade, turned up here unannounced, only to be sent away by the disbelieving garrison. He laid siege to the castle but soon gained entry and hanged most of those who had opposed him. Edward II also stayed there during his Northern perambulation.

It is not however, the King, whom Robin Hood usually encountered at the Castle, but the Sherriff of Nottingham. Despite being engrained in the modern legend, the Constable of Nottingham Castle may be meant here, for the castle was not the domain of the Sheriff. It was also here that Robin was taken after his capture at St. Mary's Church, but Little John & Much the Miller's Son tricked their way into the Castle and rescued him. Little John also spent some much time here serving the Sheriff in the guise of one Reynold Greenleaf. He made friends with the Cook and they plotted together, emptied the Sheriff's treasury and ran off into Sherwood.

The only ancient part of the castle still standing today is the, mostly 14th century, gatehouse. It was extensively restored in Victorian times and now houses the castle shop. There are also excavated foundations of the Round Tower (1270), middle bailey curtain wall and King Richard's Tower of Care (15th century). By the time of the Civil War, the buildings were already in a ruinous state due to their being built of poor local sandstone. The present 17th century palladian mansion on the site was built for the Duke of Newcastle. It was gutted by fire in the 1830s, but now houses the Nottingham City Museum & Art Gallery, including the Museum of Clothing and Lace Museum. Entry is free on weekdays, though there is a fee on weekends. Plaques around site explain the castle's development and there is an excellent model of the structure in about 1500.

Next Stop: Castle Green

Click to review The History of Robin Hood

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