Nottinghamshire is synonymous with Sherwood Forest and its most legendary inhabitant Robin Hood. In medieval times Sherwood Forest covered most of Nottinghamshire above the River Trent. It is home to England’s most famous tree, The Major Oak, thought to be nearly a thousand years old. Legend has it that Robin Hood hid from his enemies inside it. There is an annual Robin Hood Festival each summer which recreates an English medieval atmosphere and features the main characters from the Robin Hood legend. The week’s entertainment includes jousters and strolling players, dressed in medieval attire, and a medieval encampment complete with jesters, musicians, rat-catchers, alchemists and fire eaters.
Nottinghamshire is also well known for the village of Laxton, the last ‘Open Field Village’ in Europe. It is still farmed by a medieval system with each farmer allotted separate ‘strips’ in the open or common fields by a manor court. A local visitor centre provides a fascinating glimpse into this unique village.
‘Hidden Gem’ is often overused but is an apt description for Southwell, however it is probably the least known cathedral in the country. Situated in the heart of rural Nottinghamshire in a delightfully unspoiled small market town with some very fine Georgian houses, Southwell is the smallest cathedral city in England – since any town with a cathedral is automatically a city. The cathedral itself has superb examples of both Norman and Gothic architecture in a building that has suffered little damage over the years.
Close to Sherwood Forest is the National Trust owned Clumber Park. The largest park in Europe, it hosts many events throughout the year, from Easter Egg Trails and Family Fun Days to guided walks and open-air concerts and theatre performances, as well as being an excellent location for walking or cycling. The centrepiece was once a fine country house, now demolished. However almost everything else remains amongst the extensive parklands – the stables, church, 18th century Italianate bridge, follies and entrance. The estate has a large lake, a double avenue of lime trees and a walled garden with unusual and old vegetables grown alongside modern varieties.