On arrival here, I said to myself, “Where is the famous castle featured in the ‘Robin Hood’ films and stories?”
Sadly the castle doesn’t now exist, except for the gatehouse and a few excavated stone remains.
It was demolished in the 17th century.
When William the Conqueror passed through here on his way north to quell a general uprising, politely called, (The Harrying of the North), genocide of the people of the north of England. It is claimed over 100,000 died including the destruction of livestock and the land poisoned with salt. The Conqueror ordered William Peveril, a veteran of the Battle of Hastings, to build a motte and bailey fort on the high ground commanding the main route north, above the River Trent.
Circa 1170 King Henry II ordered the rebuilding of the castle in stone, thus making it an important fortress in the Midlands. It was also known as a place for leisure, being close to the royal hunting grounds of Tideswell, Barnsdale and Sherwood Forest.
In 1194, while King Richard was away on the third Crusade leaving his brother Prince John to rule temporarily in his place, the royal castle was captured by John’s supporters. On Richard’s return, in order to repossess it from John, he employed siege engines similar to the ones used on crusade in the Holy Land. It was during this period when Richard and other barons were away on Crusade that stories of divided loyalties and of Robin Hood arose, be they true or false.
In 1204 William Baiard, an engineer, was employed to carry out unspecified works on the castle.
During King Henry III’s reign considerable sums of money were spent on the castle’s apartments and defences and sometimes Parliaments were held here. But it was as a young eighteen-year-old, Henry, helped by supporters, captured the castle by entering via a secret passage way known today as Mortimer’s Hole and staged a coup d’état against his mother, Isabella of France, and her lover Roger Mortimer.They were acting as regents during Henry’s minority following the murder of his father Edward II. Mortimer was later hanged and Henry’s mother forced into retirement at Castle Rising.
It was from here in 1485 that King Richard III rode out to the Battle of Bosworth and to his death.
King Charles I raised his royal standard outside the castle walls in 1642, to mark the beginning of the Civil War. After his execution in 1649 the castle was demolished.
It is owned by the Nottingham City Council and is open to the public
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