Nottinghamshire suffers overmuch from its reputation as the home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, with a bewildering number of theme parks and amusements bearing the Outlaw of Sherwood's name. Most popular with visitors is Sherwood Forest itself, though little enough remains of the extensive woods that sheltered the outlaw band centuries ago. A modern visitor centre tells the tale of Robin Hood
, and visitors can see the ancient Major Oak, where the outlaws were said to dwell.
Though the truth of the Robin Hood legends are subject to debate and historical interpretation, the county boasts two other literary associations that are in no doubt. Newstead Abbey was the home of romantic poet Lord Byron, and in Eastwood is the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum. Newstead was created from the ruins of a 12th century Augustinian priory and is set in over 300 acres of lovely parkland.
Chief among the ecclesiastical treasures of Nottinghamshire is the magnificent Southwell Minster
. Southwell began life as a Saxon manor, but in the 10th century it was granted to the Archbishop of York. The remains of the London palace of the archbishops of York can be seen next to the cathedral. The present church was begun in 1108, and it remains one of the best examples of the Romanesque style in England. The carving, especially in the 13th century chapter house, is unmatched.
Nottingham itself is full of historical treasures, from Nottingham Castle, originally built by the Normans, to Wollaton Hall, an extravagant Tudor manor. The castle was razed after the Civil War, built again as a classical mansion, destroyed again by Luddite rioters, and finally rebuilt to take its place as the city's major museum and art gallery. Wollaton Hall was built in 1588 for Sir Francis Willoughby, and it now houses the Nottingham Natural History Museum in stately style.
Other Nottingham attractions include the Museum of Costume and Textiles, and The Lace Centre, which traces the proud tradition of hand-made lace in the city.
Near Worksop is Hodsock Priory Garden
, famous for its profusion of snowdrops and water-loving plants. For more countryside delights visit Clumber Park, where a sinuous lake is surrounded by 3800 acres of wooded parkland and rolling hills bisected by walking paths, and the limestone gorge of Creswell Crags, honeycombed by caves that were the home of Ice Age settlers.