The Lace House

Just across from the entrance to Nottingham Castle stands the medieval ‘Lace House’ a timber framed medieval building which had been used as a small museum called the Nottingham Lace Centre where it depicted the history of lace production in Nottingham.  But since my last visit it has closed and the City Council now have the building up for sale.

Nottingham lace making was famous across the world. Lace making developed from knitting hosiery which started in Tudor times in Nottingham.  The invention of the stocking frame in 1589, reputedly by the local Rev. William Lee of Calverton, lay at the heart of industrialisation in the City.  By the late 1700’s hose production employed thousands of framework knitters in and around Nottingham.  Poor conditions in 1811 led to Luddite riots in the city, with many knitting frames being smashed.

Because of changes in fashions and increasing competition from the Lancashire cotton industry, the hosiery industry began to decline and framework knitting increasingly became a depressed industry. Local entrepreneurs looked to make lace on the stocking frame. Lace had for centuries been made by hand and it was hoped that the production on machines would be much speedier and cheaper.  In Victorian times saw a dramatic expansion of the lace industry and around St. Mary’s Church in Nottingham the streets were lined by towering lace warehouses which exported the material all over the world.  The industry declined after the First World War and this was exacerbated by the Second World War and many firms closed in the 1950s. Once the heart of the world’s lace industry during the days of the British Empire, the Lace Market area of the city is now an area of city apartments, with fashionable pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and hotels.

It doesn’t look like they will be displaying lace making in the Lace House anymore once it is sold.

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Onward to Nottingham Castle

After visiting Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem I walked up the hill to the castle.

Today’s castle is a disappointment if you are expecting to see a medieval fortress.  Whilst the castle has a colourful history unfortunately its ancient fortifications did not survive through to modern times.  Today inside a sandstone wall and gatehouse lies what looks like a large mansion house.

Nottingham Castle occupies a commanding position on the natural promontory known as “Castle Rock”. In the Middle Ages it was a major fortress and occasional royal residence.  In 1067 William the Conqueror built a wooden castle to guard Nottingham.  A stone castle was first built here during the reign of Henry II.  For centuries the castle was one of the most important in England due to its strategic position as well as being close to the royal hunting grounds in the Peak District and also the royal forests of Barnsdale and Sherwood Forest.  The castle also had its own deer park in the area immediately to the west, which is still known as The Park which is now an exclusive ‘gated’ community containing many up market homes and Victorian mansions.

Whilst Richard the Lionheart was away on the Third Crusade it was said that Nottingham Castle was left derelict.  In 1194, a historic battle took place at the castle when the supporters of Prince John captured it and the castle was occupied by the Sheriff of Nottingham and the famous Robin Hood stories grew up around these events. The castle was the site of a decisive siege when King Richard I returned to England and besieged the castle with the siege machines he had used at Jerusalem.  There are bronze statues of Robin Hood and what look like his not so merry men outside the ramparts as you walk up Castle Road.

The castle was used by successive kings of England and from 1403 until 1437 it was the main residence of Henry IV’s queen, Joan but after her residence maintenance was reduced and it became dilapidated.  With the Wars of the Roses the Castle was again used as a military stronghold.

Edward IV proclaimed himself King in Nottingham and in 1476 he ordered the construction of a new tower and royal apartments at the castle.  However by the 16th century the castle had declined and was largely demolished by 1649.  A duke’s mansion was built on the site but this was burnt down by rioters in 1831.  The mansion remained a derelict shell until it was restored in 1875 by Thomas Chambers Hine and opened in 1878 by the Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII) as Nottingham Castle Museum, the first municipal art gallery in the UK outside London.

The gatehouse of the medieval castle and much of the walling of the outer bailey was retained as a garden wall for the Ducal mansion. However, the northernmost part of the outer bailey was lost when an approach road was constructed in the 1830s for the development of The Park Estate on the former deer park, and this part of the castle site was later used for the expansion of Nottingham General Hospital. Most of the stonework of the outer fortifications which is now visible dates from an Edwardian reconstruction.

A trip to Jerusalem…via Nottingham

This week I have been away further afield from the Wirral.  On a flying trip to Nottingham I took the opportunity to re-visit some old haunts.  Firstly to ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’.

‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ is purported to be the oldest pub in England.  It is carved into the rock below Nottingham Castle.  The pub is made up of a labyrinth of interconnected sandstone caves.  Nottingham is famous for its network of caves and there are further caves beneath the building which were originally used as a brewery.  They have been dated from around the time of the construction of the castle in 1067 AD.

In 1189AD King Richard I also known as Richard the Lionheart ascended to the throne of England.  One of his first acts as King was to crusade against the Saracens who at that time occupied the Holy Land of the Christian religion, Jerusalem.  Nottingham Castle was a stronghold favoured by the King and legend has it that the brave knights and their men at arms who rallied to his call to fight in this Third Crusade, gathered at the Castle to rest before journeying to Jerusalem.

The legend has it that the Crusaders stopped off at the inn at the foot of the Castle for refreshments.  In the Middle Ages, a ‘Trip’ was not a journey but rather a resting place where such a journey could be broken.  From these events the inn came to be called ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’.

Apart from Yorky’s Lounge the bar area, the Ward Room, Rock Lounge and Museum Room are all hewn out of the bunter sandstone which makes up the Castle Rock.  In the Rock Lounge you can peer up into the dark void between the sandstone blocks.

As you walk up the hill from the ‘Trip’ you come to the Nottingham castle.

Ultimate Nectar…

On the way to Nottingham we stopped off at Trowell Services on the M1.  The service station lies in the heart of the Nottinghamshire Countryside.  The petrol station had a vey large field of oilseed rape right next to the sign which advertised its Ultimate petrol and diesel prices and the fact that you can get points on your Nectar card.

Apparently with changes in farming over recent years large acreages of oilseed rape have provided an abundant and attractive source of nectar for honey bees. With the introduction of earlier and later varieties the flowering period of oilseed rape has been extended from a few weeks in May to between April and July. One beekeeper has said that his colonies adjacent to a field of oilseed rape produced over 100lbs of honey before the end of May.

Whilst oilseed rape has increasing yields of honey it is distracting bees from more traditional sources. So you can say it is the ultimate nectar…