When you go to Nottingham, it’s Robin Hood this and Robin Hood that. Which begs the question: Is there a real Robin Hood? Yes, and it’s this guy.
OK, fine, that’s Ade Andrews. He’s the official Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest. And today, he gave us a walking tour of Nottingham, which was a terrific introduction to the city.
Ade was very knowledgeable about Nottingham’s history as a lace manufacturing powerhouse — at its peak there were 40,000 employees at 158 lace companies, now only one remains, a high-end outfit that created the lace for Princess Diana’s wedding dress. We walked all around the city center, including Old Market Square, original site of the raucous Goose Fair and currently home to the Wheel of Nottingham (pictured left).
But the first order of business was to learn whether there was a real Robin Hood or not. And who better to ask than Robin Hood himself? Although Ade considers himself the “Real Robin Hood,” he was quick to point out that Robin Hood is actually a composite character of many different outlaws, some good-hearted and some not.
“People who are looking for the real Robin Hood are barking up the wrong tree, and can’t really see the wood for the trees,” Ade said. “It’s the legends that is really the important thing; the legends are what people know and love today. The legend tells us that Robin Hood is a symbol of truth, justice and freedom. And this is why he’s popular throughout the world. Because these are ideals that everyone around the whole world wants, aren’t they?”
Ade also explained that Robin Hood’s persona has changed throughout history; his image conforms to whatever kind of hero that society is looking for. At first Robin Hood was portrayed as a Saxon yeoman peasant. Then in the 17th century, he has risen through the social ranks to become a displaced Saxon earl. By Victorian times, he was seen as a version of the Green Man, the spirit of the forest.
I’m looking forward to see how Robin Hood will be portrayed in the new Robin Hood movie starring Russell Crowe that’s coming out on May 14th.
Comped but never compromised: I am on a complimentary press trip from Visit Britain, but I am free to write whatever I like.