Rocking around Nottingham

My youngest son is a metal head and a couple of weekends ago he had a ticket for the Download festival at Donnington Park in the East Midlands. He’s been going regularly for a few years now, but the first year he went he was under 18 and needed an adult to accompany him. Unfortunately for me, I was that adult and had to hang around in the cold and rain and ended the day having some freaks on stage in masks shouting, screaming and swearing at me (Slipnot).

So this time as Jake is old enough to enjoy all that death metal fun all by himself I just dropped him off and booked myself into a Travelodge in nearby Loughborough. But I couldn’t check in until 3pm so I made my way to Nottingham as I hadn’t visited there since I was a young girl. I decided to head straight for the castle as really that was the only part of Nottingham I could remember.

The first thing to say about the castle is it’s not actually a castle anymore, it’s a 17th century mansion and the only remaining part of the original castle is part of the main gate. After a wander around the house and the various exhibitions on the history of the site, I went on the guided tour of the sandstone caves that the original castle and now the mansion is built on.

The caves and castle date back to Norman times when they built a fort on top of the sandstone crop in 1067 after the conquest. Before the French invaded the city was known as Snottingham after the Saxon Cheftan named Snot, luckily for the town the French couldn’t pronounce “sn” so from the conquest onwards the place was renamed Nottingham.

The castle saw lots of historical action, one of the most famous incidents is the imprisonment of the “great traitor” Roger Mortimer. He murdered King Edward II helped by Queen Isabella by sticking a white hot poker up where a white hot poker really shouldn’t go! They went on to rule together for a while because Edward III was too young to rule alone, but eventually he was arrested and charged with high treason and imprisoned in the castle. He was later executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

The castle also played an important part in the English civil war, King Charles I raised his standard just outside the castle gates to gather support for his cause. But after a few years of fighting and Charles lost everything from the neck up, the parliamentary council ordered the castle to be destroyed.

The cave tour is well worth going on, the guide is very knowledgeable and entertaining. A word of warning though, the steps going up and down are uneven, they were designed deliberately like that to slow down advancing invading troops in the dark. So care is needed when descending especially when it’s been raining as it can be very slippery underfoot.

The only downside to my visit were the monstrous parking fees at the castle and near the Travelodge. There was no parking at all at the hotel and I forked out a small fortune on parking in the nearby council car park as there was nowhere else.

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