Uncovering the colourful characters from Nottingham’s past
Historian Dr David Cross, from Tours of Nottingham, has been enthralling visitors with his tales of the city since 1989. In today’s guest blog he explains why it’s the lesser known historical facts which intrigue him the most.
History is fascinating – it’s like a great adventure or spy story just set in the past. But it’s also a difficult thing to be sure about and you might think you know all sorts of things until you start researching a bit, and find out that the truth is quite different.
Lesser known things always fascinate me the most. In my ongoing research into Nottingham’s history, I keep coming across interesting stories and details that are either not available from a quick internet search or are written in such a way that most people would never find them. So I thought I’d start adding the odd Nottingham story to my own website so that they become available in cyberspace. You won’t find the following stories there, but these are little nuggets of lesser-known history that I found particularly interesting.
King Richard III is now big news all over the globe, but did you know that Nottingham Castle was his last home, and it was from here that he rode out to meet his fate at Bosworth? We’ve all now heard that Richard was the last English king to die in battle – in fact, he was the last of three. The first one was, of course, arrow-in-the-eye King Harold at the battle of Hastings and the second one was . . . well, to give you a clue, he besieged Nottingham Castle in March 1194 and had a really good nickname.
Have you ever heard of Randolf (or Ranulf), Earl of Chester? In the famous late 14th century poem, Piers The Plowman, Randolf was as well-known as someone called Robyn Hode. The whole world knows today about Robyn, but we’re not even sure who Randolf was. This is mainly because Tudor England absolutely loved our outlaw, quite why no one is certain, and his story therefore became firmly established, while Randolf faded into the mists of time. People would dress up as Robin to collect money for the poor at fairs and markets and this was almost certainly the origin of ‘stealing from the rich to give to the poor’. Oh, and the Tudors invented Maid Marian as well, for a bit of love-interest.
Now, if you want actual historical fact with your cracking ‘noble outlaw’ story, have a look at Fulk FitzWarin the Third . . .