On July 24, 2022, it will be the 70th Anniversary of the unveiling of the famous Robin Hood statue. Here, Robert White of the Worldwide Robin Hood Society shares some interesting facts about the iconic city landmark.
“The Robin Hood statue was gifted to the city of Nottingham in 1949 by successful local businessman Phillip Clay, who upon recognising that visitors had nothing to celebrate Nottingham’s legendary folk hero, commissioned the respected sculptor James Woodford to create the figure at a cost of £5,000. It would become the centrepiece of other statuary and plaques, depicting characters and events from the legendary Robin Hood story.
Woodford consulted with several historians to ensure he got an accurate picture of what a medieval forester might have looked like. But although the statue’s leather skull cap was authentic headgear for the period, it did cause some controversy, as the public expected to see the familiar, triangular-style Robin Hood hat as worn by Errol Flynn in the popular 1939 movie ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ Visitors often make similar remarks to this day!
Cast in eight pieces of half-inch thick bronze (which was made to last 6,000 years), the 7ft tall effigy proudly stands in a traditional archer’s pose on a two-and-a-half-ton block of white Clipsham stone.
The statue was originally intended to mark the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Nottingham in 1949, but it was not unveiled until 1952 when the Duchess of Portland performed the unveiling ceremony in front of the Lord Mayor, civic dignitaries, and a crowd of local school children. To celebrate the occasion, a themed luncheon was held at the Council House, where Venison Chasseur was on the menu, along with Fillet of Sole-Robin Hood.
Over the years, the statue became a target for souvenir hunters and there have been times when Robin looked particularly forlorn, with no arrow, no bowstring and sometimes only half a bow. In the 50s and 60s, replacement arrows were costing the City Council £55 a time, so to deter the vandals, a former Sheriff of Nottingham named Alderman Frank Dennett came to Robin’s aid, enlisting the services of the engineers at the Royal Ordnance Factory who made an arrow from a particularly strong metal used in the manufacture of gun barrels. They then secured it with a specialised welding process.
The Robin Hood statue has inevitably become a popular location for tourists to take photos and Sir Terry Wogan, Brian Clough, Jonathan Ross and Torvill and Dean are just a few of the numerous celebrities who have been pictured with the iconic city landmark. Media, film, and documentary makers frequently use it for interviews, and Cilla Black presented one of the traditional BBC Christmas Disney Time specials from the location.
The statue has also appeared on the front page of the New York Times and in many other high-profile newspapers around the globe and was even pictured with a nude model for a feature in the male magazine, Penthouse!
Over the years, several attempts have been made to move the statue inside the Castle walls, but it was always overwhelmingly agreed that it should be freely accessible to the public. The only two exceptions being when the statue was encased in a protective, plywood box to prevent damage during an English Defence League march, and when it was shrouded in plastic sheeting in 2015. During this time, moulds were created and used to construct a full-sized, composite replica, which was given to Nottingham’s sister city of Ningbo in China.
For almost 70 years, the statue of Robin Hood has remained outside the Castle, typically aiming his arrow at the Establishment. Long may that continue to be the case!”
Written by Robert White of the Worldwide Robin Hood Society.
STANDING UP FOR NOTTINGHAM!
They say I stand for justice, a champion of the poor,
Well I’ve stood here now for almost 70 years and God my feet are sore!
Pigeons perch upon my head, pecking at my nose.
Tourists clamber round my legs, treading on my toes.
I’m hardly dressed for the weather, wearing just a tunic and hose
And it’s draughty round my sensitive parts when it blows up Castle Road.
They say that I’m world famous and been photographed a lot.
It seems strange that I’m known around the globe, yet I’ve never left this spot.
My legs are aching, my back is breaking, yet there’s nothing I can do,
But stand tall and stout and tough it out, just seeing each day through.
But any pain and suffering is more than made worthwhile,
When I catch a glimpse of wonder in a child’s wide-eyed smile.
“Hey look, it’s a statue of Robin Hood!” shout the kids in excited voice.
Then I’m proud to stand up for Nottingham and let’s face it I haven’t much choice.
Robert White, 2021