Nottingham - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Nottingham


The historic county town of Nottingham, situated on the River Trent in England's East Midlands, is universally known as the home of the world's first 'superhero', the legendary Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to give to the poor. Today historians have cast doubt on whether Robin actually existed, and if he did, whether he did indeed live in Sherwood Forest near the city and do battle with the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, as the much-vaunted legend has it.

What is not in doubt is that Robin has done much to promote tourism in this ancient city, which boasts another, very real, unique attraction in the form of a system of sandstone caves beneath the city, used as dwellings by Anglo-Saxons and later as the medieval hang-out of thieves and vagabonds, and bomb shelters during World War II.

Above ground Nottingham is a pleasant, busy English town, equipped with an impressively large Market Square and thriving shopping streets around the site of its central Castle Rock, which is now topped with a Ducal Mansion (the original castle having been destroyed). Nottingham is also renowned for its 'watering holes', and three of the local pubs claim to be England's oldest: The Bell, Old Salutation and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

From an Anglo-Saxon settlement founded around 600, Nottingham developed into an important commercial capital for the region during the Middle Ages, and then went on to become one of England's major manufacturing cities, producing top quality Victorian lace and hosiery. Today it is saved from being just another heterogeneous English county capital by its legends and unique attractions, making it a city well worth including on the itinerary of any tour of the British Isles.

Information & Facts

Getting Around

Nottingham's public transport system is currently being upgraded. At present a comprehensive bus network covers the city. The central area is pedestrianised and the major attractions can be covered on foot. Taxis are freely available.

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

The Brewhouse Yard Museum, housed in five 17th century cottages in central Nottingham, depicts the social history of the city during the past 300 years. Visitors can experience life in a reconstructed Victorian home, various shop settings, and browse through a row of 1920s enterprises like an ironmonger, doctor's surgery and a cobbler. The museum is continually changing its displays, telling the history of the area through sight, sound and touch.

A system of man-made caves carved into the sandstone beneath the city of Nottingham has been developed into a modern award-winning attraction. Anglo-Saxons, whose lifestyle is depicted with dramatic presentations for visitors who come to explore Nottingham's 'underworld', originally inhabited the caves. Over the centuries the caves have been put to various uses by the locals, in times of war and peace, and were saved by local inhabitants in recent times when developers almost built a modern shopping centre over them. Now guided tours take visitors through the caves and through the ages, from the mystical 'Enchanted Well', through a working medieval tannery, the Victorian slums of 'Drury Hill' and a World War II bomb shelter. The City of Caves is not wheelchair accessible.

A short distance from the M1 motorway near Nottingham is an ancient limestone gorge, honeycombed with caves, where archaeologists have found traces of Ice Age inhabitants who lived here up to 50,000 years ago. The Cresswell Crags are a rare site, featuring Britain's only known Ice Age-era rock art. At the east end of the gorge visitors can find out its archaeological significance at a museum and education centre, before exploring the area.

Towering over the city centre of Nottingham is a magnificent 17th-century mansion built on a sandstone outcrop on the site of the original medieval castle erected by William the Conqueror in 1067. The castle building now houses the city's fine art collections, and a small museum charting the history of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment. The art galleries include interactive displays and the artworks are presented in a vibrant, interesting way. The well-kept grounds of the castle are used for a full calendar of events, from historic pageants to an outdoor theatre season. There is also a medieval-style children's playground and picnic area.

Nottingham's Lace Market Centre is situated in the heart of a protected heritage area of the city, which has undergone exciting regeneration in recent years; the old Victorian warehouses in the area have been turned into stylish residential units and trendy bars or restaurants. Once a thriving local industry, lace was manufactured on a large scale in Nottingham after the invention of the framework machine in 1589. At the Lace Market Centre visitors can find out all about lace-making and its impact through a series of exhibitions, demonstrations, and audio-visual presentations. There is also a lace shop and coffee bar at the centre.

While the title of 'castle' may be a bit of hyperbole, the stately 17th-century ducal mansion that is home to a fascinating museum and art gallery, and its location on the Castle Rock promontory commands a grand view of the city. The grounds are pleasant to stroll through, and in them you'll find the famous statue of Robin Hood himself. Nottingham Castle also hosts a number of events, including the Nottingham Beer Festival and the Robin Hood Pageant.

Accessed by the A614 highway, Sherwood Forest makes a great getaway close to Nottingham city. Rather reduced from the green splendour it evinced in the days of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is nevertheless as ecologically important and interesting as it is historically. Around 500,000 visitors a year come to enjoy the Sherwood Forest Country Park, wandering the family nature trails, admiring the huge ancient oaks and teeming insect and bird life. A major attraction is the mighty Major Oak, still flourishing in the forest after 800 years. It is also the site of the popular Robin Hood Festival held annually in summer.

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