Discovering Nottingham’s rich heritage with a city tour
I have always known that Nottingham is a place full of architectural gems – but I don’t think I realised quite how many there were until myself and a friend Anna joined tour guide Mick Ahern for a walk around the city.
Mick is the man behind Nottingham City Tours and he is has a wealth of knowledge about the city. We began our afternoon at the Experience Nottinghamshire offices on Barker Gate and as we stood on the corner of the street we could see two landmarks which hold a place in our history – the National Ice Centre which will forever be associated with our champion figure skaters Torvill and Dean and Green’s Windmill, which was built by George Green who was son of the eminent mathematician also called George Green.
From here we took a stroll through the famous Lace Market area, stopping at St Mary’s Church to admire the beautiful stone carvings and picturesque grounds. In this area, almost every building has a fascinating story to tell, from the stunning church which is now home to the Pitcher and Piano restaurant to the super-modern Nottingham Contemporary.
As we made our way through the city, Mick gave us so many nuggets of information – such as why many of Nottingham’s street names end in ‘Gate’ and what the line which runs across the Old Market Square symbolises. He also pointed out the former Nottingham Journal offices on Pelham Street, which is where Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie worked for a brief spell.
The castle area, of course, has a rich history and we stopped to marvel at our historic hostelries, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and Ye Olde Salutation Inn. Our walk took us past the castle to Standard Hill, which is where, in 1642, King Charles I raised the Royal Standard signalling the start of the English Civil War. Around the corner, we saw at the distinctive Roundhouse building, which once formed part of Nottingham’s Old General Hospital and is now a pub. I was also surprised to discover that the poet Lord Byron spent a year living in the house opposite during his childhood.
Perhaps the highlight of the tour were our visits to St Peter’s Church on Lister Gate and then St Barnabas’ Cathedral on Derby Road. In the many years that I have lived in Nottingham I have never ventured inside them, despite walking past on countless occasions. Not only were the interiors full of impressive decorative arts, they also provided a sense of peace in the middle of the city.
The Nottingham City Tours run every Saturday and Sunday at 12.30pm starting at the Nottingham Tourism Centre. Advance tickets are available from the Tourism Centre via Experience Nottinghamshire’s website. Pictured above is Mick Ahern with EN’s Catherine Allen outside the Roundhouse.