Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Nottingham Castle (Nottingham)

Nottingham Castle has an imposing position on the Castle Rock in the city of Nottingham, and is probably one of the most famous castles in England.

The original castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, just outside the existing town and overlooking the River Leen. It was one of a chain of castles constructed across the Midlands to overawe the English.

The keep was added in 1213, and a few fragments remain from this period, including the Gatehouse.

King John always referred to Nottingham as his favourite castle, and this may have been the spur for the Robin Hood associations.

In 1330, Edward III decided to wreak vengeance against Roger Mortimer, who three years before had conspired with his mistress, Queen Isabella, to depose her husband, Edward II, and have him cruelly murdered.

Under cover of darkness, the king and a few trusted friends entered Nottingham Castle, where Mortimer was by now living. They used a secret cave in the rock which has ever since been known as Mortimer's Hole. Mortimer was taken to London and hanged at Tyburn.

Richard III raised his standard here in 1485, at the start of the campaign which culminated in his untimely death near Market Bosworth.

Then in 1642 Charles I raised his standard, at the place still known as Standard Hill Street, at the beginning of the Civil War which led to his execution.

Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle to be largely demolished in 1651, and the Duke of Newcastle built a new house in the fashionable Italian style. Much of this was burnt down during political rioting in 1831, but rebuilt soon after.

The present building was opened by Nottingham City Council in 1878 as the country's first provincial art gallery and museum. There are splendid views from here across the valley of the River Trent.

Until the second half of the 20th century, many people would have usually had a picture of Nottingham Castle in their pockets, as it was featured on packets of Players cigarettes.

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