Sunday, 30 September 2012: Today, two of my new friends from my program went to Nottingham for the day to explore. When we arrived, we were surprised by the amount of people and police present, until we realized that there was a football match in Nottingham. We were serenaded by the cries and songs of large groups of people headed to the match.
After we finally escaped the chaos, we walked to Nottingham Castle, first stopping in
Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, supposedly the “oldest” inn in England and supposedly where King Richard I and his men stopped for a pint before heading on for the Crusades. It was also supposedly opened in 1189 AD. Regardless of the authenticity of the inn’s claims, it was a very fascinating place to eat because part of the inn/pub is situated in the limestone caves that are below the castle.
After a quick bite to eat, we set out to the castle entrance. Naturally, as soon as we got into the gift shop (where you purchase your tickets for entry), I tried on the Robin Hood hats that were for sale. After exploring all of the items for sale, we finally made our way to the castle. We stopped in at their museum, which is located in what area would have been one of the great halls. They had a scale model of the castle as it would have been in the 1500s. The extent of the castle’s buildings and surrounding were extravagant. We even got in trouble in there (we are museum people, so naturally we want to touch the artifacts or exhibit pieces and take pictures of what we are not allowed….) for taking a picture of one of the miniature pigs that graced the castle model. I cannot describe how miniature this thing actually was, but of course, it needed its picture taken. About two seconds later, the man who was in charge of patrolling the museum area was scolding us for taking photographs. Just for the record, there was no sign displaying that photographs are not allowed.
After we finished exploring the museum, we walked up to the castle entrance, where we found out that the interior of the castle was now an art gallery and exhibition hall. You cannot even explore most of the castle, which was a little disappointing. But, never fear, we asked about the caves tour that goes UNDER the castle. Apparently the tour had just left, so Michelle, Sarah and I chased down the tour guide and Michelle explained that we were only there for the day and that we were museum students and we desperately wanted to join his tour. Thankfully, this man was very amiable and we were able to join the tour. It was awesome! There is an entire network of tunnels that lead from the town at the base of the hill to the castle. They used to be used as a prison, a way to reach the castle, as pubs, as people’s homes and many more things. We walked from the castle all the way down to the pub where we ate lunch, all the way hearing stories about the various uses, about traitors who tried to use the tunnels and many more fascinating stories. Then, we got to go to an old torture chamber and jail below the castle. The holes in the wall that held the prisoners’ chains are still there even though it has not been used as a prison since before the 1600s. We also saw one of the old wine cellars that the master of the castle used to use.
After we finished our tour at Nottingham Castle, we caught a taxi to Wollaton Hall, which is also known as Wayne’s Manor in the newest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. It was an amazing house filled with taxidermic animals (the original owner was a well-known naturalist and his daughter devoted her life to preserving and recording the animals and artifacts that he brought home). After we toured the house and unsuccessfully attempted to talk our way into the upper room and Tudor kitchens, we explored the gardens and a little of the park around the home. The area was absolutely beautiful.
After our adventures at Wollaton Hall finished, we headed into town to eat before we boarded our train to head back home. It was an absolutely wonderful Sunday.
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