A-Z Challenge 2012 - N
In the legends of Robin Hood Nottingham Castle is the scene for the showdown between the Sheriff of Nottingham and the outlaw. However there is much more to the history of the castle than its ‘connection’ to Robin Hood.
|Reconstruction of Nottingham Castle - 1896|
The castle held a commanding position on a promontory known as “Castle Rock”, with 40m cliffs to the south and west. At various times it has been a major fortress and royal residence. After the execution of Charles I it was largely destroyed. The Ducal Mansion now occupying the site was built in the late 1600s.
|Nottingham Castle - 2005|
Built by William the Conqueror in 1067, the wooden structure with a motte and bailey design was replaced by a stone castle in 1170 by Henry II. In 1194 Richard the Lionheart regained the castle from Prince John with siege engines Richard had used during the crusades at Jerusalem - the only time that an occupier of Nottingham Castle was defeated.
In 1212 King John held sons of Welsh nobles as hostages in the Castle before ordering their execution. The boys’ cries rang round the Castle as they were taken one by one to the ramparts and hanged. Their ghostly pleas for mercy are still said to be heard within the castle precincts.
More drama occurred on the night of 19th October 1330, when the lovers, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March and Queen Isabella were in residence. The pair were acting as Regents for the young Edward III following their murder of his father Edward II. The young king and his supporters entered the castle by the secret tunnel now known as Mortimer’s Hole and burst into the lovers chamber. Despite Isabella pleading ‘Fair son, have mercy on gentle Mortimer,’ Edward imprisoned him I the castle. Sir Roger was taken to London and executed there as a traitor; hung drawn and quartered on 29th November his remains were stuck on spikes and left to rot on traitors gate at Tyburn.
Ghostly echoes from the time may still be heard in the Ducal Mansion now occupying the sight. Footsteps are heard pacing to and fro in the subterranean chamber where Mortimer was held. Sometimes in the castle a woman’s voice pleads, ‘Bel fitz, eiez pitie du gentil Mortimer!’
|Charles I raising his standard at Nottingham Castle 1642|
In August 1642 at the start of the Civil War Charles I raised his standard outside the castle walls but for most of the war the castle was held by the parliamentary forces. After the execution of the King in 1649, the castle was razed to the ground.
The site was bought by the 1st Duke of Newcastle in the 1660s; the Ducal Mansion was completed by his son in 1678. The building was attacked and burn down by rioters in 1831. Later a local architect was appointed to adapt the Castle into a building to be used as a museum and art gallery.
The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, opened Nottingham Castle in 1878 and Nottingham celebrated being the first municipal museum and art gallery outside London.
|Nottingham Castle Gatehouse 2005|
Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire was Hilary Melton-Butcher's castle for M on Saturday.
- Reconstruction of Nottingham Castle 1896; Source Mackenzie, James D. (1896) The Castles of England: Their Story and Structure, Vol II. New York: Macmillan. Author James Mackenzie (1830-1900) PD
- Nottingham Castle. Nottingham Castle 2005; author Rob Bradford; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license
- Painting by Henry Dawson 1847 of King Charles I raising his standard at Nottingham Castle 24 August 1642 public domain
- Nottingham Castle's Gatehouse 2005; author Rob Bradford; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license