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Robin Hood statue
Top tip: Join celebrities and millions of visitors who have had their photo taken at the famous Robin Hood statue at Nottingham Castle.
History of the famous figure:
On 24th July 1952, the statue of Robin Hood was unveiled by the Duchess of Portland on the Robin Hood Lawn, beneath Nottingham Castle, in the remains of the moat on Castle Road.
It was a warm sunny day when 500 schoolchildren sat attentively on the grass in the special VIP enclosure to watch the ceremony of the statue and its complementary plaques and sculptures being revealed to the public, accompanied by a fanfare from the band of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment.
Cast in eight pieces of half-inch thick bronze (made to last 6,000 years) and weighing half a ton, the 7ft effigy of Nottingham's legendary outlaw proudly stands on a two-and-a-half ton block of white Clipsham stone. It is surrounded by small studies of Little John, Friar Tuck, Alan A Dale and Will Scarlett, whilst wall plaques illustrate scenes from the tales of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Gifted to the city by local businessman, Philip E F Clay, the impressive figure was intended to provide something tangible for visitors to see relating to Robin Hood, Nottingham's world-famous folk hero. Mr Clay was a successful director of well-known city firms Elastic Yarns Ltd and Fine Wires Ltd and in 1949, at a cost of £5,000, he commissioned the respected Royal Academy sculptor, James Woodford, to design and make the Robin Hood statue, plaques and statuary.
On completion, they were to be presented to the city to commemorate the visit of Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh on 28th June 1949 during the city's quincentenary celebrations. Mr Clay had originally wished to remain anonymous but when the time came for the unveiling in 1952, he had been talked out of trying to hide his generosity by a grateful city council and he was honoured at the ceremony.
At the luncheon at the Council House which followed the event, the 117 civic guests dined appropriately on Fillet of Sole Robin Hood and Venison Chasseur or Roast Duckling – complimented by plenty of mead, the honey-flavoured beverage popular in medieval times. From the Minstrel Gallery above the Ballroom an ensemble played a musical programme to suit the occasion that included Merrie England and Greensleeves.
The sculptor had meticulously researched the details for his subject and created a stocky-built figure that depicted how the historians believed medieval foresters from the period would look. However, the public were expecting an Errol Flynn-type interpretation, sporting a pointed cap with a jaunty feather. So a controversial debate was born that continues even to this day, with complaints also being made about Robin's headgear being an authentic leather skull cap rather than the triangular felted hat that Flynn wore.
However, the statue is no stranger to controversy. It had originally been intended to have the statue in the roadway outside the castle gates, but common sense prevailed with the realisation that traffic dangers and congestion would be a nightmare. There was also common agreement that Robin, as possibly the greatest outsider of them all, should be on the outside of the castle, typically aiming his bow at the Establishment.
Over the years...
The statue became a target for souvenir hunters and there have been times when Robin has looked particularly forlorn with no arrow, no bowstring and sometimes only half a bow. In the 50s and 60s, replacement arrows were costing the City Council £55 a time and they frequently placed orders with the South Lambeth foundry that supplied them. Surprisingly, it was a former Sheriff of Nottingham, Alderman Frank Dennett who came to Robin's aid and enlisted the services of the engineers at the Royal Ordnance Factory, who made the arrow from a particularly strong material fixed with a specialised welding process to deter the vandals.
Throughout the last 60 years the statue has become an iconic image of Robin Hood that has graced the covers of hundreds of newspapers and magazines around the world – all giving valuable free publicity for the city. Apart from the millions of visitors who have taken their traditional souvenir photo at the statue, it has also provided the ideal location for numerous celebrity photo shoots and television links.
Did you know?
Cilla Black has introduced Disney Time from there, Brian Clough posed proudly at the statue when he was given the Freedom of the City and newsreader Jan Leeming filmed a Conservative party political broadcast there. The statue has appeared on the front page of the New York Times and featured on BBC's The One Show and it also represents Nottingham on the Central News montage. The image has been copied and adapted thousands of times and often used by local companies to promote their goods and services. The statue has been pictured with a guitar around its neck to promote a rock concert and even wearing one of the trendy, coloured leather satchels that are sold at the top of Friar Lane.
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