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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(276,000 in 1991)
City on the river Trent; administrative centre of Nottinghamshire. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Snotingaham (the village, or ham, of Snot's people). Occupied by the *Danes in the 9C, it became their most important centre; and its regional status was confirmed by the Normans, who built a castle here on a high outcrop of rock soon after the *Conquest. The medieval town is traditionally linked with *Robin Hood, whose legendary band of merry men roam and rob in nearby *Sherwood Forest and whose chief enemy is the wicked sheriff of Nottingham.

In more recent centuries the town's importance has been as a centre of the textile industry, specializing in lace and hosiery. Its early industrialization provoked the actions of the *Luddites, who had an articulate local champion in Lord *Byron (his ancestral home, Newstead Abbey, is nearby). Nottingham is also the birthplace of *Boots.

The Old Market Square (surprisingly large at 2.3ha/5.5ac) has been the town centre since Norman times and until 1928 was the site of Nottingham's annual Goose Fair in early October; originally a trade fair for the sale of livestock, this has long been a purely festive occasion and is now held on a site about a mile to the north. The medieval castle was almost entirely dismantled during the *Commonwealth; the mansion which then replaced it was burnt during riots in 1831, part of the agitation leading to the *Reform Act; and it was the ruins of this which were restored in the 1870s to become the Museum and Art Gallery.

Among many treasures the art gallery has a particularly good collection of Richard Bonington (1802–28), who was born locally; and the museum displays many examples of the alabaster carvings (usually relief panels for altar-pieces) for which Nottingham was famous in the 14–15C. The rock on which the castle stands is riddled with passages and caves, many of them inhabited at times in the past. At the foot of the rock are Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (claiming to be oldest inn in England, established in 1189) and Brewhouse Yard – a group of 17C cottages adapted to a museum of daily life. A natural history museum is housed in nearby *Wollaton Hall.

Nottingham is not an Anglican diocese, but has a Roman Catholic cathedral by *Pugin. *Trent Bridge is one of Britain's foremost cricket grounds.

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