Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Local Hero



I’m not even going to attempt to deliver a knowledgeable post about the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. The Internet is flooded with history, folklore, poems, songs and stories about him for those who wish to seek them out. This post is about the statue; however, I will tell you that he is the local hero of my childhood in Nottingham and that his statue and I are of similar age. It’s situated in the grounds of Nottingham Castle, and here are my own children getting acquainted with him in 1988. It was presented to the city of Nottingham in 1952 when I was still a babe in arms. The statue was unveiled by the Duchess of Portland, to the accompaniment of a fanfare from the band of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment.

The Royal Academy sculptor, James Wood, was commissioned by a local business man Philip E F Clay, in 1949 to make Robin and other statuary and plaques, to commemorate the visit by Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on June 28th 1952, during the city’s quincentenary celebrations. A large party of civic guests dined on an appropriate medieval banquet, which included venison and mead, and from the Minstrel Gallery came the music of 'Merrie England', with a programme that included Greensleeves.

There were possibly audible gasps of surprise when the statue was unveiled, as the popular conception of Robin Hood at that time was of the Errol Flynn rôle. This Robin, the result of meticulous research by Woods, was the stocky yeoman type which would historians believed medieval foresters would have looked. And so the debate began, and has continued for the past sixty or so years. Every generation has their own Robin Hood; my own mother still favours the swashbuckling Flynn, whilst I was brought up on the TV serial of the 1950s, starring Richard Green. Then came Michael Praed in the TV version of the 80s and I was instantly in love.

Poor old Robin has been the target of souvenir hunters and vandals over the years, and I remember him sometimes without his bow, or part of it, or more often than not, minus the arrow. During the 50s and 60s replacement arrows were costing the City Council £55 a time. The statue itself was cast in eight pieces of half-inch thick bronze, weighing half a ton, so would be difficult to steal, but the arrows became a target (sorry) because they were so easily removed. It was a former Sheriff of Nottingham, Alderman Frank Dennet, who came to Robin’s aid by commissioning the services of the engineers at the Royal Ordnance Factory, to make the new arrow from a particularly strong material, fixed with a special welding process. Thus part of the legend was reversed, as the Sheriff was traditionally Robin’s arch-enemy.

The statue is now truly iconic, appearing in advertisements, posters and TV shows, and now here he is in my blog and reaching a new audience through Sepia Saturday, where this week’s photo prompt is statues and monuments.


Before you go over there to see what other contributors have posted, here’s a picture of another of James Woods’ statues. My son joins Robin’s Merry Men in this photograph. The statue shows Friar Tuck, Little John and Will Stukely having a rest from their outlaw duties.


I am indebted to an informative article by the Nottingham Post, from which many of the snippets of information for this post came.

19 comments:

  1. It's a great statue. I hope it doesn't fall victim to the metal thieves, who pinched a lovely group of statues of Dr Salter of SE1, a local doctor who revolutionised health care for poor people in the area, at the time it was a poor area. I think I'll feature this on my blog. http://www.salterstatues.co.uk/

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  2. I remember the 1950s Robin Hood, too -- and I even had an Official Hat (which would probably sell for a few thousand dollars on eBay now). LOVED Robin Hood, although I thought Maid Marian was a bit too helpless at the time!

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  3. You mentioned various Robins on TV, but here in USA we've had several more movie heroes, including animated ones, and musicals. Great statues and I loved the story about the Sheriff of Notingham helping with the arrow.

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  4. He indeed doesn't resemble the man I remember from the movies. Also in Holland lots of bronze statues have been stolen, and even parts of rail tracks.

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  5. Oh my yes, Robin Hood and his Merry Men are a most fabulous story, and indeed you have entertained us again, especially with photos of your darling children.

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  6. My favorite Robin Hood is Kevin Costner. I know he had a pretty bad, almost nonexistent English accent, but oh well! One of my favorite scenes in the movie was when Maid Marian blew in his ear & his arrow went askew. And then there was Sean Connery as King Richard! But is the real Robin Hood real or a myth or a combination of heroic men? The controversy will probably go on for millennia - like that of King Arthur.

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  7. Wow that is a really interesting take on how Robin Hood looked. I've never seen that statue before. I like the second one of them all having a rest.

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  8. I have actually seen that statue myself. On a trip to England to visit an old college friend years ago.

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  9. I like this statue, and version, of Robin Hood. Very different from the image I grew up with, but then every subsequent movie, book or whatever, departed from that, so I'm not particularly surprised.

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  10. Oh, I enjoyed this blog post. LOL about the Sheriff of Nottingham solving the arrow problem :)

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  11. There was only one Robin Hood and Errol Flynn is the first one I remember. I was wondering why arrow were being stolen as there have always been welding techniques to make them safe form thieves (unless the burn them off)

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  12. I like how the statues are close to the ground. That makes them more accessible to viewers, especially children--unfortunately more accessible to vandals too.

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  13. I once made a disappointing trip to Nottingham expecting to discover some legendary English history but somehow I missed this. It's an engaging statue, but Robin's missing bowstring does bother me since from a physics point of view you need all three — bow, arrow, and bowstring for the weapon to work.

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  14. Oh yes, the Richard Greene Robin. I loved him. I can still hear the sound of that arrow leaving the bow at the beginning of the show followed by the movie.

    I had a penpal in Nottingham in the '60s who sent me a postcard of Robin Hood's tree. I wish she'd sent one of this great statue. Alas she stopped writing after I sent her a gift. It was very strange. I still have her letters somewhere.

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  15. I've made a few comments this week about my statue-imitating husband - he is organising a very large scout camp and his section's theme is Robin Hood. He is dressing as the Sheriff of Nottingham!

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  16. Peace at last. A reformed sheriff actually helping Robin Hood. The more realistic Robin in the statue appeals to me. It's just beautiful. Thanks.

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  17. I would have thought that the statue of Friar Tuck would have been bigger? There are not many statues that would have such appeal to children.

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  18. How interesting! We visited Nottingham Castle in 1992 with our children and no doubt we saw that statue, but sadly I don't seem to have any photos of the event. My husband's uncle and aunt lived in Nottingham at the time, and the uncle is still there..

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  19. I'm surprised it took so long to think of welding the arrow to the bow. The debate over Robin Hood's appearance is amusing, but Wood's interpretation makes sense.

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