Thursday, September 14, 2006

St Mary's Church, Nottingham

Robin Hood, in the earliest known printed collection of his adventures (c15th / 16th century), declared his enemies to be Bishops, Archbishops, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. (Not, you will note, the Sheriff of York). These were typical of the people who Robin perceived to be corrupt, and who perhaps benefited most from the Norman conquest of England, when many lands and properties were redistributed; probably before Robin's day but grievances can be carried for a long time. However, much as he obviously despised Bishops, Robin Hood was a very spiritual man and is said to have prayed daily to the Father, the Holy Ghost, and "Our dear Lady". Indeed, such was his devotion to the Virgin Mary that these same tales tell us he would not harass any group passing through Sherwood Forest that had a woman in its company.

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin stands in the Lace Market area of Nottingham and was built in 1474. However, the Doomsday Book records a church standing on this site as long ago as 1086, though that was destroyed in the 12th century by Henry 2nd's soldiers. The present building dates from 1474, but it was the previous church (fragments of which can still be found on the Birkin Building situated in the Broadway), that Robin Hood is said to have attended mass at. On one occasion he was recognised by a "fat headed" monk he had once robbed. The monk wasted no time in contacting the Sheriff of Nottingham, and a sword fight ensued in the church nave. During the fight Robin's sword broke in two and he was forced to surrender and be taken into custody at Nottingham Castle. He was of course rescued by Little John, and learned not to enter the city again without being effectively disguised.

You can see where a disguised Robin Hood sold his wares at Weekday Cross Market on THIS LINK.

St Mary's Church Notttingham should not be confused with St Mary's Church Edwinstowe, where Robin Hood married Maid Marian.

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