Nottingham Castle

Kev Neylon
7 min readApr 19, 2024

It has been a surprisingly long time since I’ve been inside Nottingham Castle. I am sure that as a kid we would go there at least once a year. But as I think back now it must be over thirty years since I’ve been to visit. I would have walked past it a few times when out in Nottingham, either on nights out, or on days I needed to go and work or do training in Nottingham, but I never went in.

Helen and I tried to go in a couple of years ago. We were staying in Nottingham for a night and went to go on an overcast day, only for it to be closed for improvements / refurbishment / redecoration or something along those lines. We ended up going for a walk around the whole of the hill it is located on. Through the Park Estate with its resident only parking and exclusive feel, and back around to where Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem is, where we went and lunched to get out of the rain that was starting. It famously claims to be the oldest pub / inn in England, but in reality, isn’t even the oldest one in Nottingham (The Bell takes that title), and the date of 1189 is wildly inaccurate.

The castle is now fully reopened, and we took the opportunity to visit it on our last morning of our recent stay in Nottingham. And we had picked my mum up and brought her with us. (And the back of her head makes a few appearances in the photos I was taking.)

It is strange what time will do to your memory. I couldn’t remember what any of the grounds or the building looked like inside the walls. I had a vague recollection of it from childhood visits, but the main castle building is a surprise to me.

Some parts stayed with me better than others. I remember Mortimer’s Hole, and that it went down into the caves in the rock beneath the castle, and how it is supposed to come out in Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. But I’m sure it wasn’t covered by such a thick metal grid when I used to come here when small. I suppose the newer metal grid is now there to prevent idiot children throwing themselves down the hole (or their parents throwing them down).

It is deceptive how high up the castle is. We had walked down to the entrance from where we had parked, but there is a long steep incline up to the entrance to the castle’s main building.

From the outside of which there are stunning views out over the south, east, and west of the city.

From this vantage point it becomes clear why the Normans chose this spot upon which to build their castle back in the eleventh century. It is a steep rocky outcrop.

I have no clue as to what was in the castle when we used to come all those years ago, or even if we ever used to go inside the main building. But there is a lot in there now. The lower two levels are full of interactive learning experiences based on the omnipresent Robin Hood, and the history of Nottingham and the castle through the ages.

It is half term, so both of these floors are being fully utilised by kids and their parents / grandparents / other relatives / conscripted babysitter for the day. And most of them look like they are having fun (the children that is, not the adults). I was less interested in the interactive displays, mainly because there were maps.

Though it is amazing just what they will leave hanging around.

The ground floor and upper levels host various museum and gallery displays. A mezzanine floor houses a regimental museum.

There is a film exhibition on the ground floor. The first floor has various galleries laid out in lovely high ceilinged spacious rooms.

The first couple are art galleries with a wide range of paintings and photographs in a variety of styles.

There is a room of pottery and jewellery.

And a nod to the industry for which Nottingham is best known, a display of lace and its manufacture through the ages in another room.

Stained glass and religious iconography are at the far end before a lap of the building is complete.

It is down the grand marble staircase

looking down on the mosaic floor, and then back outside.

The visit is somewhat rushed as it is lunch time and some people need feeding on a more regular basis than others, and there is onwards afternoon travel to consider, a stop at Crewe to drop my mum off for her train, before Helen and I continue to Chester for a couple of nights.

The original castle fell into disrepair after the English Civil War, and a riot in the city in the nineteenth century saw a fire which destroyed a lot of what remained. So, the building that stands in the grounds now is nineteenth century, a Victorian reproduction of what they thought a Tudor castle should be like. And having been rebuilt later it is complete, and therefore a far cry from most of the castles we visit as English Heritage or National Trust members.

There are statues inside and outside of the walls to Robin Hood and his so-called merry men (though Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club use the nickname ‘The Outlaws’ in reference to them for their 20/20 team nickname).

Inside there are plenty of mentions and references to Robin Hood, and out in the city there are more references.

The main road less than a hundred yards to the east of the castle entrance is called Maid Marian Way. Yet only parts of the outer walls have survived from the castle which was here when he was said to be alive.

Even if the visit is somewhat rushed this time around, the ticket, like so many others nowadays, allows for unlimited re-entry for a year after the original ticket date. So hopefully we will be back for a more leisurely look around the castle, the museum and gallery, and the grounds at some point in the next twelve months.

As we go to look for lunch it begins to rain, and so we end up going for food in Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, to be proper tourists. Who says history doesn’t repeat itself.

For other stories of wandering around this year, check out my list

2024 Travels

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Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.