Christmassy Nottingham In The Rain!

Nottingham Council House (2)

On Saturday I went into Nottingham with my elder daughter, Nicola, and grandson Kieran, to do some Christmas shopping. We went on the train – just to keep my train-mad grandson happy – and were out all day, not getting home until the evening. As you can see from the photo above, it poured down for most of the day, so we did spend more time than we’d have liked mooching around inside the shops.

Nottingham is a big city with a history that goes back hundreds of years. It is known worldwide mostly for its connections with the Robin Hood stories, but there’s a lot more to Nottingham than that, and I’ll probably do a post about it sometime next year.

Robin Hood Memorial in Nottingham, near to the castle. Uploaded by Soerfm under GNU Free Documentation License. Wikimedia Commons.
Robin Hood Memorial in Nottingham, near to the castle. Uploaded by Soerfm under GNU Free Documentation License. Wikimedia Commons.

For now I’ll just share some of the photos I took of the Old Market Square, and give you a little bit of information about it:

In the days before the City of Nottingham existed as such, the area which is now the Market Square was the centre-point between two Anglo Saxon towns in the old kingdom of Mercia. One of these towns was Snotengaham (also called Snothryngham, Snottingaham and – the usual name around here – just Snottingham). Whichever name is used, it simply means ‘the settlement of Snot’s people’ – to most people’s amusement.  So the central area between these two settlements has been the centre of the city’s growth for hundreds of years.

The Old Market Square, as it is known, is an open, pedestrianised area, from which shopping streets spread out in all directions. It’s a place where friends can meet and do some shopping, or visit one of the many cafes, restaurants and pubs. It is the largest public space in the U.K. after Trafalgar Square in London and is a centre for Nottingham’s transport links. Trams run around the outer edge of the square, as can be see from the overhead lines in a photo of the Council House lower down the page. Unfortunately the only photo I took of a tram is not a good one, particularly as people stepped in front of me as I snapped it. Here it is anyway:


In summer for several years now, a large area of the square has been converted into an artificial, sandy beach for parents to take their children to play on, with a huge paddling pool in the middle – an excellent idea for a ‘Midlands’ city, a long way from the coast. The square was also the original site for Nottingham’s famous Goose Fair, which originated over 700 years ago and is held every October. In 1928, the fair was moved for redevelopment of the square and is now held on the Forest Recreation Ground, an open space about a mile north of the city centre.

The Bell Inn, thought to be one of the UK’s oldest pubs and dating back to around 1276, can also be seen at the back of the square. I forgot to take a photo of it as we dodged the rain, so here’s a (summertime) photo from Wikipedia:

Updated photo of the Bell Inn in Nottingham Market Square. Author: Lee J. Haywood. Creative Commons,

But the building that dominates the square, although undoubtedly impressive, is nowhere near as old as the Bell Inn. This is the Nottingham Council House building as seen on my ‘header’ image and this one below. It was built to replace two much older buildings that had been used for this purpose over the years – the old Norman ‘Moot Hall’ and the English Guildhall, last used in 1877.

Council House

This new Council House was designed by Nottinghamshire architect T. Cecil Howitt and a building called ‘The Exchange’ was demolished in 1926 to accommodate it. In 1929, thousands of people gathered to watch its official opening in by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, open the great doors with a golden key, which is still displayed on a wall plaque, just inside the building to the left of the grand staircase.

Unlike the Lincoln Christmas Market, held only over a long weekend, Nottingham’s is held throughout December. Like several others in the U.K. nowadays, it is also fashioned after the German markets, although Lincoln was the first in the country to do so. Still, it all looked very pretty, with a little fun fair and lit-up stalls – despite the rain.

Lincoln Christmas Market, however, has the great advantage of its wonderful setting in the castle bailey and being overlooked by the beautiful, towering medieval cathedral. It draws people back, year after year.


99 thoughts on “Christmassy Nottingham In The Rain!

  1. What perfect timing for me, as I have recently started watching one of the Robin Hood TV series and was starting to wonder about Nottingham! The Christmas market looks warm and welcoming even in the rain. And I love that there is a “mushy peas” stall!

    1. Thanks Joy. Yes, Nottingham and Robin Hood really go together. I forgot to say on my post that the Market Square was where the archery contest was held (as shown in the Disney film). It would have looked very different in the Middle Ages!
      If you’re watching the 2006 series, just called Robin Hood, with Jonas Armstrong as Robin, it’s nowhere near as good, or authentic, as the 1984 version, ‘Robin of Sherwood’, with Michael Pride as Robin. This older version may look a little dated now, but it brings out the full feel of the period, with the lingering mysticisms and beliefs in the Old (pagan) Ways, incuding belief in Herne the Hunter. In the 2006 series the castles are patently not English and resemble those in Germany or other mainland European countries with the pointed turrets. The 2006 series is entertaining, though, in its own way.
      As for mushy peas…that’s a traditional thing to have with the fish and chips that Britain is so well known for. They go well with other foods too, of course, like sausages (probably with chips!). 🙂

      1. Mushy peas go with just about anything British, I think. 😉

        I don’t think I’ve seen the 1984 version of Robin Hood; I’ll have to look into that. As far as the 2006 version goes… I have to admit that I’m not even noticing the historical flaws because I’m too busy drooling over Richard Armitage, who’s the main reason I looked up the series. I could have sworn Guy of Gisborne was not *supposed* to be the hero of the show, but you could fool me… ((blush))

      2. Oh, ‘Gorgeous Gisborne’ became a cult figure when the series aired over here. He’d also been in a series called’North and South’ so was well known for that, anyway. He had short hair in that, and looks so much better with longer hair as Gisborne. The Normans, however, did favour a very unflattering basin cut. Ugh! In our staffroom at school, a group of women teachers – and not all young ones! – had a huge poster of Richard Armitage on the wall, just to drool over. Fortunately, the male staff thought it was funny. Are you still blushing? I do agree, he stole the show. 🙂

      3. Gorgeous Gisborne indeed! Yes, I do feel a little better. “North & South” is where I first saw him — it’s one of my favorite period pieces ever. I own it and have seen it many times.

      4. Oh boy…you have got it bad! Lol You’ve really made my day with this little chat. Lou is here at the moment, and she fully agrees with you about him! She has just added that he also played Thorin in ‘The Hobbit’. Such a handsome dwarf! 😀

      5. To be fair, I like North & South for many reasons. Richard Armitage is just icing on the cake. 😉 And yes of COURSE he makes the most handsome dwarf!

      6. I agree. Thornton was excellent. Time to get back to reality, I think, Joy… or perhaps just back to Eneana! You could always write one of your characters like Thornton (if you haven’t done so already). 😀

      7. Funny that you mention that, because one of the reasons I went back to watch North & South yet again is that I’m looking for a “face” for each of the main characters in my novel. This is a technique a friend recommended, to imagine someone you know or an actor playing the part, so you can better picture the gestures, facial expressions, etc. And I’m thinking of Richard Armitage/Thornton as the “face” for my heroine’s oldest friend / unrequited love interest.

    1. Christmas is getting closer by the minute, and children are getting more and more excited. It’s so magical when they are little! Have a wonderful, family Christmas, Shivangi.

    1. Thank you for that lovely comment. I suppose Britain is a country of ‘quaintness’! We have so many really old buildings in every town, so Christmas always looks like something from a Dickens story. 🙂 It’s even better if it snows. The US is a much newer nation, but you still have some areas where there are lovely old buildings. Perhaps your area doesn’t, but I’m sure you all enjoy Christmas just as much. 🙂

      1. I lived in Germany for a while a number of years ago, and there was never a more beautiful Christmas than that one, really magical. The beautiful buildings and snow and lights and quaint little villages, I really love it over there.

      2. Oh, I long to go to Germany for Christmas, so you are now making me green with envy. We had hoped to go on a tour of the Chrismas markets this year, but other, family things turned up and we had to give it a miss. Next year, we’ll make every effort to get there. I imagine it all to be as beautiful as you say, and there is so much more chance of snow than there is here, apart from Scotland. How lovely that you lived there at one time. You must have a lot of wonderful memories of that time. Thank you so much for sharing this.

      3. I do, I lived in Bitburg and Trier. Trier is unbelievable. They have both progressed (probably a Mc Donalds on the corner) but still incredible, I adore the olde countries. It’s like a wonderland.

      4. I can imagine. Those places always remind me of something from the Hans Christian Anderson stories – traditional dress and all. We may get out there one day. Someone else on WP recommended Heidelberg, but I think that’s quite a large city. I love the little towns and villages. Thank you again for sharing your wonderful experiences, Holly.

      5. Don’t forget to go to Munich if you get the chance. Heidleberg and Dresden are fabulous. If you are looking for a magical place stuck in time it is Luxembourg. Georgeous and very small country. No bigger than a small city.

      6. You know, Holly, with your travel experience, I think you ought to write Travel books! 😀 You are so well travelled and are travelling still, with your job, I believe. Thank you so much for the info. on places in Germany. I’ve never considered Luxembourg, but it’s somewhere else to think about.

    1. Thank you, Jean. 🙂 It was rather wet, to say the least. I didn’t mention on my post but as soon as we came out of the station, Nicola stepped off the kerb into a ridiculously deep puddle and soaked her jeans up to the knees! We spent the first hour trawling round the shops for a new pair of jeans – with a totally bored Kieran on our heels. 🙂

      1. I know! I paid for them. 😀 But, to be fair, I offered because it was a cold wind and pouring down, and the denim would never have dried.
        I’ll visit your blog tomorrow, Jean. I probably have a few posts to catch up on. It’s a quarter to midnight here now, so I’m just off to bed. 😀

    1. Nottingham is a big city and one in which is very popular with university students due to the rich ‘night life’ there. (What else would students consider when selecting a university! Lol. The courses on offer might just about come into it somewhere!). As a city, it’s very busy, but offers all the amenities that anyone could want. The city does make the most of its Robin Hood connections – and why not? It brings a lot of tourist trade, which is good for any city. The Christmas decorations and the market are very nicely done this year. We just picked a very wet day to visit. I’m sure it would be much busier on a dry, crisp day and more pleasant to walk around. Thank you for sharing about your friend, the Sheriff. 😀

  2. That’s a great tram picture. The people walking in front (especially the slightly blurred person and the blurred bus) give it a sense of “action” I reckon, rather than just “here’s a picture of a tram”.

    1. Oh, thank you for that. I really thought people would see the photo as the work of a total novice – which I am when it comes to photography. It was very wet for taking photos, too. You’ve made me feel better now. 🙂

    1. Like all cities, Andy, Nottingham has some rough areas as well as really lovely ones. It’s famous for a lot of things – popular universities, big hospitals, theatres, Goose Fair and so on – and the ice rink where Torvill and Dean started their career. Plus lots of history for me to delve into, too. The Old Market Square, and the many roads leading from it, are very popular with shoppers. Nottingham is about 20 miles from Newark and our village is seven miles further on, so it’s doesn’t take too long to get there by either car or train. Like most places, Nottingham’s definitely worth a visit – if only to see the troglodyte caves in the red sandstone. 🙂
      Hope you are well and doing lots of photography. It’s getting late now, so I’ll visit your blog tomorrow. I imagine I’ve a few posts to catch up on. 🙂

      1. You’ve sold Nottingham to me Millie, with just one sentence – troglodyte caves in red sandstone!!! LOL! 🙂
        And Nottingham does sound like quite an interesting city too 🙂

      2. That troglodyte caves have a great history, and I’ll include them in the post I’m going to write next year. But, although Nottingham is of much historical interest, I’m not a city person. I don’t mind towns, if pushed, but a quiet little village suits me best. Have a great Christmas, Andy (in case I don’t get chance to talk to you again for a while). 🙂

      3. I’m not a city person at all either Millie, I would happily live out in the sticks!! My wife is from Glasgow, but she is now glad we live on the outskirts of a town, but she reckons a village would be too quiet, to me the quieter the better, your more in tune with nature that way! 🙂 I reckon you would like St Just, Millie, it must be one of the smallest towns in the UK, with a population of just over 3,500 people 🙂
        Out of all the places that I’ve lived, that’s my favourite!
        Thank you Millie, and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family, in case we don’t get to speak over the next week 🙂

      4. Thank you, Andy. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you since we ‘met’ on WP and I hope you have a wonderful family Christmas, too. We’ll be invaded by our tribe, as always, and I’ll spend my time cooking, as I’ve done for the last 45 years! But I’ll be ecstatically happy to do so.
        As for city living… it obviously has its pros, but to me those pros are only required every so often. I don’t go out buying furniture that ofetn, for example. 😀 I like a quick visit into cities to see the historical sites, or even shopping (yuk!) but then I like to go home to the countryside. St. Just sounds perfect, and I’ll be sure to have a look when we get down there – hopefully next summer.

      5. You’re very welcome Millie, and the feeling is mutual, I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you too 🙂
        It sounds like you’ll have your work cut out for you on Christmas Day, but you’ve had plenty of practice now! Lol! 🙂 I think I’ll have it quite easy just cooking for 7! 🙂
        Your right about cities having their occasional uses, museums, large bookshops and historical sites being all I can think of – the shops are one of the disadvantages to cities!!! LOL!!!
        I hope you do manage to get down to West Cornwall, I’m sure you will love it 🙂

      6. I know I will, Andy. I love all of Britain, and everything about our geography and history. My eldest daughter (who is now 43) is an archaeologist – but in the science area – and we share our great passion for the evolving land and its people. My second daughter is an historian and my husband is a chemist, with a love of the environment. Oh, don’t we sound a right stuffy lot! But, I aaure you, we’re not. We’re just all lovers of this land of ours. 🙂

      7. It is indeed a wonderful land that we live in Millie, so varied and full of history, we are all very privileged to live in the UK!!! 🙂
        What a wonderful family you have Millie, not stuffy at all, I imagine you could all have some wonderful conversations around the Christmas table!! 🙂 Any neighbours of yours wouldn’t need internet access, they would just need to come around to your house to have all their questions answered 🙂 🙂

      8. Haha! On Christmas Day, after a few glasses of wine (or stronger) I doubt that any of us make any sense whatsoever! Nick loves his Edradour and the rest all have their favourite tipple. (We’ve been to the Edradour distillery at Pitlochry three times now – and I hate whisky!) Nick loves the stuff. But, to be fair, he only drinks it on special occasions. (So the great crate we have of the stuff just sits there, looking all lost and forlorn. 😀 )

      9. LOL!!!! After a few glasses of your favourite tipples I’m sure the conversation would get really good, albeit a little silly 🙂 Lol!
        I’m guessing Edradour is a single malt long brewed whisky? I’m not an expert on such things, even though we can only be about 50 miles away from Pitlochry! When I used to drink, I was very much a real ale man, I didn’t drink a lot else! nowadays I’m pretty much tee total, well coffee total!!! LOL! 🙂

    1. Well, it is Christmas, and fairy lights do improve a place, no end. 🙂 Seriously, though, There have been a lot of improvements made around the city . I don’t know how long ago you were there, Bekki, but the stone slabs in the Market Square have been replaced, and I do think the square, as a whole, looks better than it used to. I’m not as familiar with Nottingham as I am with Lincoln and Newark, but it’s a good shopping centre. Broadmarsh Centre is now undergoing removation, and the Victoria Centre looked quite smart. What you see on the photos is exactly how it looked on Saturday, and I think the city is trying hard with the German-styled market. No one could ever persuade me to live in a city of that size, but it’s good for a shopping visit – so many more departmentals than Lincoln. Thanks for your input on Nottingham, Bekki. Much appreciated. 🙂

      1. I haven’t seen any missed comments or pingbacks, Susan, but I’l check my junk file just in case it landed in there. I’m beginning to think some little gremlin is sabotaging my pingbacks! 🙂 I’ll check out your post as soon as I can. Thank you for accepting!

  3. Great pictures Millie! Looks like a lovely Christmas market, despite the rain!!

    If you ever want to visit the Swiss Xmas markets, I would be more than happy to show you around!! I went last weekend and it was fabulous! So pretty, with weird and wonderful goodies on show!

    Wishing you, and your family a wonderful festive season! Getting in early because I probably won’t be around much until the New Year. 🙂 xxx

    1. It sounds as though you’re heading for a great Christmas over there! I imagine you’ll be having fun with family and friends.
      I should think the Swiss markets are like the German ones – magical! We’d planned to go to Cologne this December, but family matters put an end to that. The Christmas market in Lincoln is a German-styled one and the oldest of its kind in England. It’s twinned with the German town of Neustadt and many of the stalls are from there, as well as other places in Europe and Scandinavia. We go every year as its only seven miles away, and for the last two years I’ve written posts about it. I think Christmas in Switzerland sounds wonderful, and if we decide to come an see the markets there, I’ll be sure to let you know. How lucky you are to be out there at this time of year. Lovely yo hear from you again. ❤

  4. Nottingham looks like a place of bygone era. Beautiful photos!!
    That is what is wonderful about Christmas…you can create any tradition even without having the imagination. Just go out and there is something you can repeat and enjoy again and again.
    Well enjoy your Christmas season with your family and friends!

  5. Thank you for this little visit to Nottingham 🙂 Loved this post! By the way, I finished your book a while ago and loved it!! It ends with such a cliffhanger that I need to know more (no stress with the 3rd book, I’m a slow, leisurely reader!!!). Book 2 is on my radar now 🙂 I was thinking, maybe I’d write a littel post about it, what do you think? It wouldn’t be a book review as such, just a casual post maybe… 🙂

    1. What can I say? A small post about my book would be wonderful, and I would appreciate it very much. Thank you so much! As you know, Book 2 is already done and I’ll be taking a blogging break in January so can get on with Book 3. 😀

      1. Happy blogging break to you in advance, then! 🙂 And I hope you have a great Christmas, too! If I post the book’s cover, who do I credit (the artist?) – or do you not need to with books? Hmm. Too late in the evening for my brain to solve this one… 😉

      2. The illustrator was Kit Foster, who lives in Scotland. This is his email address if you want to give it:
        He is excellent and very affordable. He’ll be doing my 3rd book, too.
        Have a wonderful Christmas! I won’t be ‘off air’ until the beginning of January. 🙂

  6. If I tell you that i enjoyed Nottingham under rain more,will you believe me?What a lovely post connected with history and culture over this very special season of year!We have visited Nottingham a couple of times during summer and we spent our time more in the castle where we admired the amazing topiaries and the gardens and we were looking for Maid Marian around the Castle … and for contemporary “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor” heroes … lol
    Robin Hood topiary was astonishingly created with grass and flowers and he was holding his arrow too.I didn’t know much of the historical details you shared with us and it would be interesting if you could write a post on the long history of this lovely city.Your gallery is fantastic and it perfectly displays the festive atmosphere.How lovely it’s held throughout December;it gives so much life to the city and to the shops.Thank you dear Millie for this wonderful tour around the city.
    Have a wonderful & dry weekend 🙂 xxx

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Doda – and for sharing about your own visits to the city. I intend to do lots of historical posts during next year and Nottingham is definitely one of them, as is Lincoln. Like you, I do love history, and every city has so much to tell us of the past. The castle in Nottingham is quite a recent one, compared to the many medieval ones in Britian. The old one in Nottingham was eventually razed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders, and the present one was built quite soon after (late 17th century).But it is still of interest and is very well kept. I’m really glad you liked my post. 🙂

      1. Many thanks for your reach reply-comments,dear Millie!I so much enjoy reading all of your posts and particularly the ones which include history and culture 🙂 xxx

  7. Although it was raining, it still looked very festive especially that cute little Christmas market. ❤ I always fancy going to Christmas like this as the ones in HK usually are not as festive. Thanks a lot for such a wonderful virtual tour and I really enjoyed it Millie! 😉

    1. It was very festive, Khloe, even though everyone there was getting soaked. But it didn’t seem to matter, somehow. We’ve had so much rain this year, so I think we can rule out any hopes for a white Christmas. I’m glad you enjoyed the quick look at Nottingham. ::)

  8. I have just read this post and all the wonderful comments all your followers have posted. It is quite a conversation. I think I mentioned that I did a Xmas markets tour of Europe a few years back. No snow that year, but lots of fun visiting all the stalls in the various cities. I think my favourite was at a little town called Osnabruck in Germany near the Belgian border, and also the ones in Munich and Innsbruck was very good. As for Nottingham: I am intrigued, of course, because of the Robin Hood myth. I see it is just like a big city except it has wonderful pubs like the Bell Inn. How awesome!! It must have been renovated many times as it doesn’t even look very old. I envy you the old architecture that is found in all your villages. I read your comments about village versus city life and wonder, do it worry you that you don’t have access to medical and ancillary services in a small village, or maybe you do? As I get older I like the peace and quiet of small town life better, preferably not too far from the water, but do not want to move to somewhere bereft of services. I suppose everything in England is reasonably close, in comparison to Australia?

  9. Yes, it has been quite a conversation, and I’m overjoyed by all the nice things people have had to say, and the extra information about Christmas markets. As you know, I’m dying to get to the ones in Germany and was really disappointed not to be able to do that this year. And your lovely comment is just the icing on the cake. I have a lot of different Christmas markets to consider now. Ideally, we’d love to do a tour that visits some of the best ones. The tours we’ve seen usually start in Belgium and visit a couple there before heading into Germany.
    I agree with your worries about living in an isolated village as you get older. It’s not a good idea. Our village has no amenities whatsoever, other than a church, but it’s only a mile and a half from a large village which has everything except big departmental stores..There is a medical centre, dentist, library, three pubs/restaurants, playing fields/ sports fields and a priimary school and day nursery. So we’re not that cut off. Admittedly, we usually drive down there when we want shopping, but I often walk if I haven’t got much to carry. I imagine in a country a big as Australia, some settlements could be completely isolated from others. We have some like that in the hills – and, of course the Scottish Highlands or Central Wales.
    As for architecture… every city, town and village is full of it here. But we are and old country, so that’s to be expected. Australia is a relatively ‘new’ nation, as is the US, so few buildings bo back more than a two or three hundred years. But even some of those can be wonderful, and need conserving for future generations to enjoy and learn from. 🙂

      1. I’m sure Robin had ‘many strings to his bow’ but the actual bowstring is proving to be somewhat transitory. Here one day, gone the next. 🙂

    1. The answer to that, BunKaryudo, is yes…and no! Yes because he should have one, and no because souvenir hunters keep pinching it! They also used to take his arrow in the past (the sculpture has been there since 1952) and on occasion, part of his bow has been broken off! Now both arrow and bow are made of some king of metal which can’t be broken too easily. Unfortunately, the string is more often than not absent. I’ve never seen it there, but there are a few photos around on which it is.
      Thank you for asking! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Pinky! There’s a lot to Nottingham that I haven’t yet posted about, and so much history to talk about. I’ll be doing more in the new year. It would be wonderful if you could visit Nottingham one day – just as I long to visit your country! I’m sure it must be 2016 for you now (or almost) so I hope your coming year is wonderful for you. Thank you so much for connecting with me.

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