Robin Hood, Ale & Alley Cats

England, Nottingham Guide (A): Robin Hood, Ale & Alley Cats

This Tour orients the visitor at the Robin Hood Statue beneath the Castle Wall. Then hugging castle wall to the oldest Ale House in England. Double back to the historical timber house; cut through to the central Fair Trade Church, across to Flying Horse Walk leading to Old Market Square (renowned stone Lions & 21st century City Centre year-round playground playground). Tour winds up at award-winning Alley (cat) Café & Bar.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Robin Hood, Ale & Alley Cats
Guide Location: England » Nottingham
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Robin Hood Statue Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Pub Museum of Nottingham Life Timber Frame House circa 1450 Fair Trade Church Cafe & Shop 'Inspired' studio shop The Flying Horse Building The Council House Lions Old Market Square Alley (Cat) Café Bar
Author: Corrina McFarlane
Author Bio: Corrina McFarlane has counted Nottingham City as a home from home over the last decade, been fortunate to be housed with a little family right in the hub of the city for weeks on end, tucked behind the castle wall, where foxes still come out to play. In between times, Corrina is a resident of Santa Cruz, California.
Author Website: http://one-wild-precious-life.blogspot.com/
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Robin Hood Statue

1) Robin Hood Statue

This 7 foot high bronze statue of Robin Hood is by nationally acclaimed local sculptor, James Woodford(1893-1976). Unveiled in 1952, the statue, and the accompanying plates on the castle wall, celebrates the world-famous story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Is the story true? 'Robin Hood' cannot actually be pinned to one single character, though echoes of the storyline reach as far back as the 1200's. But since the central theme of righting wrongs and lifting up the downtrodden has such enduring appeal, folklore wins out over historical accuracy every time.

Of all the sights in Nottingham, this is arguably the one that visitors most choose to be photographed with. The arrow on the statue has proved to be vulnerable to damage over the years and the City has borne the substantial cost of repair, but the BBC attests to the fact that locals as well as visitors could not now imagine Nottingham without this iconic Robin Hood.

Note that there is only one weapon that a self-respecting Robin Hood could possibly wield and it is immortalized here; the English longbow was incredibly effective and has been described as the 'automatic rifle' of Medieval England. When you see pictures or footage of England’s World War II Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, giving the V sign for Victory, know that that defiant gesture harks back to the longbowmen of the Middle Ages.
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Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Pub

2) Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Pub

Hug the castle wall from the statue to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub where they've been serving Real Ale since circa 1189. 'The Trip', as locals call it, is located by 'Brewhouse Yard' and set into the castle rock. That means you can have your Nottingham 'cave' experience whilst tipping a pint and contemplate that Nottingham folk really did live in caves such as these through the centuries. Nottingham, 'City of Caves', is actually built on a sandstone ridge and the underground network of human-made caves is huge. People made their homes in these caves all the way through to the late 19th century, when it was actually made illegal.

Important to note that unlike many popular attractions you will not suffer from mediocre fare if you stop for sustenance at Ye Olde Trip. The pub is proudly part of the 'Crusade for Real Ale' in England. Greene King is the House brewery and The Trip regularly features 'guest' beers from other highly acclaimed breweries; all featured in the Real Ale Guide, which is updated annually for your drinking pleasure.

The Trip keeps normal pub hours, opening at 11am to 11pm, and till midnight Friday & Saturday. Good pub grub served every day up to the final hour. Brewhouse Yard, you will discover, is also home to the Museum of Nottingham Life.
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Museum of Nottingham Life

3) Museum of Nottingham Life

Right next to The Trip is a row of 17th century terraced houses. This is now the Museum of Nottingham Life with local history & artifacts spanning 300 years. Like the Trip, you will find part of the museum complex goes right back into the castle rock and showcases the same hallmark Nottingham caves; carved-out former dwellings.

The exhibits include re-constructed homes and shops, a school room and an air-raid shelter. The caves of Nottingham made excellent air-raid shelters during the bombing raids of World War II.

The museum is open Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 4pm.

£5.50 admission ticket is also good for entry to Nottingham Castle (entrance by Robin Hood Statue).
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Timber Frame House circa 1450

4) Timber Frame House circa 1450

Doubling back from Brewhouse Yard, directly across from Robin Hood statue, there stands an original circa 1450 timber frame house. The ‘Severns Building', as it is called, was originally sited at Middle Pavement, in the hub of the old City. Back in the 1700s we know it housed wine merchants; brothers Severn. Two hundred years later, when the new Broadmarsh Shopping Centre threatened this and other fine examples of old Nottingham, at least this one house was saved from destruction and moved close to the castle wall.

These days, you will see the Severns Building referred to in places as the ‘Lace Centre’. The ‘City of Caves’ is also known as the ‘City of Lace’: the industrial lace-making industry, at its height in the 19th century, employed a full two-thirds of the City’s population. The timber-frame house in its new location did serve as a tiny lace museum and shop but in 2010 the City Council, looking for ready sources of revenue, put this Grade II listed building up for sale, along with the row of fine Georgian houses that adjoins it.

POI The row of Georgian houses stand on the street called Castle Gate that heads down to Maid Marian Way. Note across from this row on Castle Gate is World Service Restaurant & Lounge, housed in an historic building put on the map because French military commander, Marshal Tallart was held as a prisoner of war there in the early 1700's after the historic Battle of Blenheim.
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Fair Trade Church Cafe & Shop

5) Fair Trade Church Cafe & Shop

To access St Peter's Fairtrade Cafe & gift shop, climb the steps at the front of the Church on Albert Street/St Peter's Square, adjacent to Marks & Spencer. The Diocese of Nottingham has been certified Fairtrade since 2008. That means at least 50% of all the Parishes in the district have voted for fair & just trading practices for overseas commodities, and have fulfilled the basic criteria to serve Fairtrade tea & coffee and to promote the principles of Fairtrade in their community.

Since the UK is a major importer of overseas goods, more and more declared Fairtrade Churches reflects a nationwide shift in public awareness. Fairtrade in the UK was once a fringe idea and activity. Now these very traditional institutions, as well as longstanding British companies, including Marks & Spencer, John Lewis Partnership (department stores and Waitrose Grocery), Cadbury's (Dairy Milk) & Nestle's (Kit-Kat), have taken significant steps to meet fair trading criteria. By 2010 this fast-growing trend in the marketplace increased the number of Fairtrade items available in the UK to over 3000, a number that will only continue to expand as the British shopper continues to choose goods that conform to just trading principles.

St Peter’s Centre is open Monday-Friday, 10.30am-2pm and staffed by volunteers. The little shop sells gifts, food, drink, household items, and keeps a comprehensive Fairtrade catalogue that customers can take away.
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'Inspired' studio shop

6) 'Inspired' studio shop

'Inspired’studio shop is located on Flying Horse Walk, accessed from St. Peter's Gate.

Inspired storefront serves as a working studio for renowned local artist, Jill Perry. Jill's artwork has been exhibited for many years both nationally and internationally but this is her first and only walk-in studio. Here you will see Nottingham's major City landmarks through an utterly unique Jill Perry interpretation. ‘Inspired By Nottingham’ art pieces include vivid color and astonishing detail bordering on hypnagogic. Inspired showcases the work of other local artisans including the Perry twins; Games Workshop (headquartered in Nottingham) longtime sculptors who crafted the models for Lord of the Rings movie. Inspired is open Tuesday - Saturday 11.00am to 5.00pm with extended hours in the Christmas holidays.

POI: The Cheese Shop you pass to get to 'Inspired' is also locally owned. At Christmas time you will see lines round the block. The proprietor is a character who if you're lucky will tell you the detailed story of how he lost his arm to a hay-baler. Great little snacks and treats to be had in this packed-to-the-rafters local gem.
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The Flying Horse Building

7) The Flying Horse Building

Flying Horse Walk emerges onto the street called simply 'Poultry'. Here stands the original Flying Horse Building. 14th century Mayor of Nottingham, John de Plumptre, founder of the historic Plumptre hospital for the poor, built his house here and it too eventually became a charitable gift. Earliest references to The Flying Horse Building hark back to this era.

By the late 1700's, the Flying Horse Building is listed as an Inn. Notably, the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade met here. There is also an historical record of a big celebration dinner held at the Inn upon Napoleon's defeat in 1813, with a torching of a Napoleon effigy out front of the Inn in Old Market Square.

The Flying Horse Inn closed in 1989 but the Flying Horse Building is still in use today, now as a retail shop; Atomic. Original interior features remain, including carved wooden mantelpiece (fireplace mantel) and modern-day usage has not deterred the notorious Cavalier ghost.
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The Council House Lions

8) The Council House Lions

The Council House Lions date back to 1929 and were fashioned by local Nottingham sculptor Joseph Else (1874-1955). By all accounts, the people of Nottingham were almost immediately endeared to these 2 great stone lions and in no time at all the lions became THE most popular place to meet someone in the City, most especially for a first date. To some local folk these lions are known as Leo & Oscar.

If you have to choose which lion to meet at, it is popularly the Left Lion. You can find what's hot in Nottingham culture online at 'LeftLion' dot co dot uk.

Of the two stone lions, the Left Lion is the one that guards the foundation stone of Nottingham's Grand Council House.
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Old Market Square

9) Old Market Square

Old Market Square has a long history as a gathering place in times of celebration or unrest. But in 2007 the newly designed Old Market Square was unveiled and the Centre now has real attraction year-round, not just for out-of-town visitors, but for local families as well.

Kids growing up in Nottingham City today, though living far from the East and West seashores of the British Isles, now get an authentic 'beach front' experience every summer holiday, right in the middle of Old Market Square. The City installs the ‘sea’, the sand, and the sun loungers. Land-locked kids are growing up in a seaside town. And since entering City fountains has always been prohibited, it appears that the children once forbidden, grew up, took over the City, and changed the rules. These fountains, with sudden and unpredictable water jets, invite children and adults alike to run the gauntlet on hot summer days. Local people bring picnics, meet friends, hang out all afternoon.

In the winter, the beach of course is gone but in its place comes a full size ice rink. Accomplished ice skaters in Nottingham preceded the Seasonal ice rink: The Nottingham Lions ice hockey team; "Pride of Nottingham", have excelled as English National League Northern and National Champions in recent years.

The Old Market Square has many more Seasonal attractions, including a fair in Summer, and a substantial German Christmas Market which takes up residence for the month of December.
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Alley (Cat) Café Bar

10) Alley (Cat) Café Bar

Along from Old Market Square, across from the central library on Angel Row, the iconic Alley Cat beckons passers-by into the narrow alleyway and up the stairs to a tiny space that is a delight at any hour. Alley Café Bar is fully licensed and serves consistently popular, reasonably priced, hot and cold dishes, and fun & funky drinks, all day long and late into the night.

In day-time hours you might find yourself in an interesting mix of City professionals, students, mum's and/or dad's with kids & babies; all are made welcome. At various times this little venue has live DJs, open mike & speakeasies, art shows, gallery exhibits & poetry jams.

The food happens to be organic & vegan/vegetarian but reviewers concur; this is not the defining factor; all-comers choose Alley Café for the vibe and the culture, and for the fact that the food is satisfying and totally works for a broad range of palates.

It's a post-Millennium treat that continues to earn glowing reviews and was voted Best Bar Food 2010 at the Nottingham Bar and Club Awards and Best Café in the Midlands by Theme Magazine. The extended opening hours towards the weekend accommodate all the events that pack the Café even tighter than daytime weekdays: Open Mon - Tue 11am - 9pm, Wed - Thu 11am - 12am, Fri - Sat 11am - 1am, Sun 12pm - 5pm.