Nottingham may be most famous as the setting for the legend of Robin Hood, but there’s so much more to the heritage of this vibrant city than the myths of Sherwood Forest. A visit here offers all kinds of opportunities to delve deeper into the past, whether it’s in a Nottingham museum, stately home, or even an underground network of caves. And if you’re in the mood for something more contemporary there is a thriving arts and theatre scene here too.
The thriving arts and museum scene in the East Midland’s premier city is a bit of a well-kept secret.
Based in the trendy Hockley area of the city centre, the 300-seater Nottingham Arts Theatre has been a much-loved part of the city’s cultural scene for over 65 years. Due to its charity status, it truly is a community theatre where members of the public can both watch and perform in its productions. Professional touring companies and comedians do visit the theatre, but it’s best known for its community productions. These include a pantomime every year, local dance school productions and its popular summer ‘show in a week’ where kids enrol in a programme to perform in much-loved shows like Peter Pan.
Wollaton Hall and Park is an Elizabethan beauty dating back to the 1580s. These days the interior of this splendid building is home to the Nottingham Natural History Museum where natural collections, bird, insect, mineral and Africa galleries are all awaiting exploration. What’s more, its 17th century stables are home to the fantastic Nottingham Industrial Museum that vividly evokes the city’s past as an industrial powerhouse. Picnics are welcome in the beautiful gardens and kids will love the recently added play area. And don’t forget to round off your day with a visit to the Café in the Courtyard.
Nottingham Castle, which perches in a commanding position on top of Castle Rock can be traced all the way back to the middle ages. The Castle Gate House retains that all-important medieval look but most of the building is made up of the imposing 17th century mansion that was rebuilt on its site. These days it’s home to an extremely popular Nottingham museum and art gallery, which showcases local, national and international art. You can also find out more about the story of Nottingham’s most famous resident Robin Hood here and explore the spooky caves below the castle which contain both a dungeon and a wine cellar.
City of Caves
If exploring the dungeons at Nottingham Castle has whetted your appetite for discovering more about the subterranean world lurking under the city, City of Caves should be the next stop on your itinerary. This underground labyrinth near the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre consists of 500 dark and mysterious caves that can be dated back to the dark ages and have been the scene of many an act of skulduggery over the centuries. Amazingly, these caves were used as accommodation for the poor of Nottingham even after a law passed in 1845 banned this shocking practice. Paranormal experiences have been reported, so go prepared!
Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery, known locally as Nottingham Contemporary, is a gallery that never stands still. It continually welcomes new exhibitions from artists on the more avant-garde side of the art world. The artists are international, but this gallery has a real local ethos with its special events, family-friendly activities, research and links to the community and local schools. Based in the city centre, on the edge of the smart Lacemarket area, the building’s sleek, striking design makes it a modern landmark in this always-evolving city. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, make sure you enjoy a drink on the Café Bar’s terrace as you contemplate and discuss the interesting and imaginative new horizons your visit has just opened up!