Clumber Bridge Sherwood Forest  flickr publicenergyKnown most for being the home of Robin Hood, many tourists visit the county’s Sherwood Forest and the city of Nottingham for their association with that legendary figure. Nottinghamshire also has strong literary connections – the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron is located here, and D.H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. Nottingham, the traditional county town, is now a unitary authority, but continues to be the county’s main city, drawing business people and a large student population due to the prestigious universities in the area.

Nottinghamshire stretches much further in a north-south direction than east-west. Nottingham is located in the southwestern part of the county, in and around which most of the county’s population lives. Most attractions are also concentrated in the southern half of the county.



Southwell MinsterA small town about 50 minutes by bus away from Nottingham, Southwell (pop. 6,900) , with its population of about 6000, has charmed many a visitor, including Lord Byron. Probably the most prominent landmark in town is Southwell Minster, the gothic cathedral which is the seat of the Church of England diocese covering all of Nottinghamshire. Its two imposing towers and the medieval stone carvings inside the church are indeed awe-inspiring architectural treasures.

Near the town is the Southwell Workhouse, where you can find out about the lives of paupers in Victorian England, presented in grim detail. Ironically, Southwell today is a visibly affluent town compared to its neighbours, and is the residence of choice for many of Nottingham’s richest people. Southwell was also where the famous Bramley cooking apple was first cultivated.



D. H. Lawrence WikipediaThe D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum [8A Victoria St, Eastwood; +44 1773 717353, A: £2.50 C: £1.75 (Combined ticket with Durban House Heritage Centre)] is located in the house in which the famous, controversial writer and poet was born. The house has been restored to look like it would have during Lawrence’s childhood when he and his family lived there. Visitors explore the house on a guided tour, and can also view an exhibition of Lawrence’s early paintings. Brown signposts direct motorists to the museum from the town of Eastwood.

The Durban House Heritage Centre [Mansfield Road, +44 1773 717353, Combined ticket with D.H. Lawrence Birthplace (see above)] gives more insight into the life and times of D.H. Lawrence, with its permanent exhibition on mining in the area and on Lawrence himself. The information about the social history of the area helps to put Lawrence’s writings into context. The Heritage Centre is a short five-minute walk from the D.H. Lawrence birthplace.




Newstead Abbey Lord Byron Abbey [Newstead Abbey Park, +44 1623 455900, A: £8.00, C: £3.50, Concession: £6.00] is the ancestral home of the notorious Romantic poet Lord Byron. The beautiful building, an Augustinian priory from 1170 until the dissolution of monasteries in 1539, was given by Henry VIII the following year to Sir John Byron, Lord Byron’s ancestor. The monastic structure of the building was preserved by the Byrons, and hence to this day the building exudes medieval charm. Unfortunately, the only remaining part of the 13th century priory that still stands today is the iconic West Front, and a donation appeal is currently underway to raise funds for its much-needed restoration.

Newstead AbbeyBesides admiring the awe-inspiring façade of the house, visitors today can wander the rooms furnished according to Victorian period styles, discover Byron’s private apartments and memorabilia, and dress up in period costumes. The park surrounding the abbey covers around 300 acres, and comprises several individual gardens mostly dating from the 19th century. In the park you can also find Byron’s monument to his beloved dog, Boatswain, which is apparently larger than the monument to Byron himself – such was his love for his pet.

Newstead Abbey is about 19km north of Nottingham, along the A60. Buses also run there from Nottingham city centre – check the website for details.


Robin Hood statue  flickr Jo JakemanNottingham (pop. 666,400)  is a unitary authority area within Nottinghamshire, and a city that was granted its charter by Queen Victoria in 1897. Steeped in the Robin Hood legend, Nottingham cannot seem to shake off that association, for which many tourists specially come. With one of its main roads named “Maid Marian Way,” an appointed “Sheriff of Nottingham” and the Nottingham Robin Hood Society, it is clear that the city itself takes its reputation quite seriously.       

The city is a patchwork of architectural styles, with grand, centuries-old buildings existing alongside modern office complexes. During the Industrial Revolution, Nottingham was known particularly for its lace and bicycle industries. Today several multi-national companies have headquarters located in the city. Many of Nottingham’s attractions are linked to its rich history, especially its crucial role in the Industrial Revolution and social reform during the Victorian era. Nottingham’s crime rate is something of a blot on the city’s reputation, but its culture and nightlife are nevertheless booming. Fashion designer Paul Smith hails from Nottingham, and was trained at the Nottingham School of Fashion. 

Nottingham’s Old Market Square is located right in the middle of the city, where you will also find the Tourist Office on Smithy Row. The train station is to the south, Broadmarsh Bus Station is just north of the train station, and Victoria Bus Station is north of the centre. Most of the attractions and services pertinent to tourists can be found within an area bounded by these landmarks.

Nottingham Castle detail  flickr Peter.LomasNottingham Castle Museum
[+44 115 9153700, ad/ch £5.50/2.00, Concession: £4.00 (prices include admission to Brewhouse Yard Museum)] The city’s original medieval castle was burned down during the English Civil War, and the “castle” that stands today is actually a ducal mansion built in the 1670s. This stately building is now home to Nottingham’s history and art museum. Its permanent collections include the city’s treasured medieval alabaster carvings, and documentation of the city’s textile heritage. The art gallery is a space housing works ranging from Pre-Raphaelite art (including works by Dante Gabriel Rosetti) to contemporary works. The Castle Museum is a prominent landmark on Nottingham’s skyline, and is a 10-minute walk from the city centre.      

Brewhouse Yard Museum [Castle Boulevard, +44 115 9153600, Admission part of combined ticket with Nottingham Castle Museum (see above)] The Brewhouse Yard is located about a 5-minute walk from the Castle Museum, just at the foot of Castle Rock. Housed in five 17th-century cottages, this fascinating museum brings to life 300 years of Nottingham’s history through particularly faithful reconstructions of shop and room interiors. Part of the museum is also housed in an interesting man-made network of caves carved into the hillside.       

Wollaton Hall [Wollaton Park, Derby Road; +44 115 153900, Admission free] Amidst the idyllic setting of a five-acre deer park, Wollaton Hall stands as one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in England. It was built in 1588 and designed by acclaimed architect Robert Smythson. Today Wollaton Hall houses a natural history museum and an industrial museum, both captivating for children and informative for adults. The park surrounding the mansion encompasses a large lake, formal gardens and walks, and is the venue for various activities and events as well as a popular picnic spot. To get there from the city centre, take bus 30, which has a stop right outside Wollaton Hall.      

Galleries of Justice [High Pavement, The Lace Market; +44 115 9520555, ad/ch £8.95/6.95] Located in the Shire Hall building, on the site of Nottingham’s courthouse and goal dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, this museum presents in a highly interactive manner the history of the country’s judicial system, and crime and punishment during Victorian times. The artefacts exhibited bring the grim reality to the fore, and actors dressed in period costumes add to the immediacy of the experience. The incredible historical value of the building itself, which housed the courts until 1991, certainly adds meaning to this unique museum.      

Caves of Nottingham [Drury Walk, Upper Level, Broadmarsh Shopping Centre; +44 115 9881955, ad/ch £5.95/4.50] This curious network of man-made caves is accessed from inside Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. The caves date all the way back to around the 10th century, when they were known as Tiggua Cobaucc, and were used for various purposes by Nottingham residents for centuries. Examples include housing, storage, factories, and air raid shelters during World War II. Sections of the caves are re-created according to their functions at different time periods – visitors can thus see a medieval tannery, a Victorian slum, and an air raid shelter, as they would have looked in the past.