Nottingham's caves are unusual in that they are not natural, limestone caves, but man-made sandstone ones. Most of them have been hacked out of Castle Rock, under Nottingham Castle. At different times in history, they have been used as storerooms, dwellings, air-raid shelters, bars and museums.
Albert Ball was the most famous British flying ace of the First World War. He is credited with 42 air combat victories against German aircraft and was awarded the MC, DSO, Russian Order of St. George, French Legion d'Honneur and the Victoria Cross. He achieved all this in just two years before he was killed in 1917, aged 20, following a dogfight with Lothar von Richtoven, the Red Baron. There is some dispute over which of these two flying aces was the greatest. In their final dogfight, Ball had riddled the Red Baron's plane with bullets, forcing him to crash land. The Red Baron stepped unharmed out of the wreckage, But, Ball's plane had been hit too, and moments later he came crashing out of the sky to his death. Richtoven was killed the following year, credited with 40 air combat victories - two fewer than Ball.
If you are interested in finding out more about Albert Ball, several of books have been written about him over the years from "Captain Ball, V.C." Briscoe, Stannard & Jenkins (1918), through "The Boy Hero" W. Briscoe (1920) and "Albert Ball, V C, DSO" R. Kiernan (1933) to "Albert Ball, V.C" C. Bowyer (1977). His dress uniform and leather flying helmet are kept at the Imperial War Museum in London, while pens, pencils and a one pound note recovered from his body are on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon.
He came from Nottingham and his impressive statue stands in the grounds of Nottingham Castle.
The 100 bus goes outside the city to Southwell. The journey takes about 20+ minutes.
This quaint small town has a gorgeous Norman minster, Byron connections, a pub where Charles the First spent his last night of freedom before his capture by the roundheads, a National Trust Victorian workhouse and even a racecourse!
I always pop into the traditional sweetshop before taking the bus back.
Bus stop is in King Street.
Southwell has a folk music festival in early June.
The Sherwood Foresters Regimental Museum may sound a bit boring, but it is one of the most fascinating small museums I have visited. It is housed inside Nottingham Castle. There are impressive displays of uniforms, weapons, medals and photographs, recording the regiment's history from its origins as Colonel Houghton's Regiment in 1741 to its involvement in various conflicts and wars including the capture of Quebec from the French in 1759, the Burma War of 1826, the Boer War , the Crimean War, the First & Second World Wars, Palestine, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.
In this museum I discovered battles and wars that I never even knew the British army had taken part in. For example, I found out that in the nineteenth century, Britain invaded nearly every corner of the globe from Addis Ababa to Buenos Aires.
The Screen Room claims to be the smallest cinema in the world. It has only 22 seats. It is in Broad Street opposite Broadway Cinema. It shows the same sort of films as Broadway Cinema: mostly inependent and foreign language films. Currrently, for example, they are showing the South Korean films, "Oldboy" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" and the South African film, "Tsotsi".
Admission: Adults £5.30, Students £4.10
In St. Mary's Churchyard, in the Lace Market area, there is a unique tombstone made of clay. It was for the daughters of William and Elizabeth Sefton, who died in 1714. William Sefton was a manufacturer of clay pipes, and when his children died, instead of purchasing a tombstone, he made one from a mass of pipe clay and scratched his own epitaph in the soft clay. He then baked it in the factory oven, to harden it. It seems to be remarkably resilient and has outlasted some of the granite and marble tombstones.
Weekday Cross was the original town centre of Nottingham, before it shifted to the Old Market Square. For hundreds of years the Weekday Cross stood in front of the town hall, and markets were held here from Saxon times. The stone market cross is still here, but it has been moved slightly from its original location.
Newdigate House in Castle Gate was the "open prison" for Marshall Tallard, the commander of the French army, after he was defeated and captured in Bavaria, at the Battle of Blenheim, by the Duke of Marlborough in 1704. He lived here for 6 years, as a prisoner of war.
This was quite a luxurious prison, as Castle Gate was where the homes of Nottingham's wealthiest citizens were located in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and Newdigate House was one of the grandest buildings on the street. It was built in 1675 for the Newdigate family. It now houses Nottingham's top restaurant, World Service.
The Royal Children in Castle Gate is one of several historically interesting pubs in the Nottingham Castle area. It reputedly takes its name from the fact that royal children, staying at the castle, played with the innnkeeper's children here. The particular royal children in question were the grandchildren of King James II. His daughter, Princess Anne stayed in th castle, with her children, in 1688.
Inside the pub there is the shoulder blade of a whale, which once hung outside, advetising the fact that whale oil was sold here. The Royal Children was one of the first places in Nottingham to use oil lamps rather than candles.
3 miles south of the city centre is the Nottingham University district of Beeston. In the centre of its pedestrian precinct is one of the nicest sculptures in England: the Beeston Beekeeper, sometimes known as George. He is sitting on a bench looking across a hedgerow at a beehive. The details, like the bees clinging to the hive and the net on the beekeeper's floppy hat, beside him on the bench, are wonderful.
Drive or get the bus(N.o 7) to Woodborough village in July or August. Follow a public footpath(marked on the ordnance survey map) starting on the corner of a t-junction near the Woodborough Hall Hotel in the direction of Calverton and several fields later you can catch the scent wafting from behind a hedge. You come to a huge field with rainbow rows of every of variety of rose. On a hot day it's intoxicating!
I have a painting of the scene by a local artist.
Surprisingly the headquarters of the Inland Revenue, the government's tax administrator, is not in London, but in Nottingham. It moved here in the 1990s, and its futuristic building is one of the city's landmarks.
The bandstand in the grounds of Nottingham Castle was built in Victorian times when the gardens were opened as a recreational park for local people. Bands used to entertain promenaders here at weekends. Brass bands still give occasional performances here.
The Crown Inn, in Beeston was originally a sixteenth century cottage. Inside it, the confessional (the inn is in Church Street, behind the church) is one of the smallest and oldest serving bars in England. In 1830 the inn was purchased by a captain from the Queen's regiment, who named it the Crown. It is reputedly haunted by the ghost of a cavalier.
It's listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, and it's my favourite pub in Beeston. They show live Sky Premiership football, which you may see either as a good or a bad thing, depending on whether or not you like pubs that show football.
In the grounds of Nottingham Castle, you can still see some of the ruins of the original 12th century castle, including the foundations of the Middle Bailey wall and lower section of the north-eastern tower, the Middle Bailey Bridge and Gatehouse. Most of these ruins are to the right of the modern castle, as you enter.