Naughtiness in Nottingham

A few weeks ago I had a good friend to stay so we decided to have a heritage day out in Nottingham. I haven’t been to Nottingham since I was 18, it was a birthday treat which I really enjoyed it so I thought it was high time to spend another day there.

To start the day, after I had found the car park, we went to Nottingham Castle. To my surprise and delight there was a medieval re-enactment taking place! Robin Hood even put in an appearance. Walking around the Living History encampment felt like home. There was also an archery tournament, but with a twist. The teams of archers were aiming for a moving target stuck on top of a knight’s helm. It was very entertaining to watch, and the Robin Hood and his Merry Men crashed the party!

Robin Hood! I knew he was real

Robin Hood! I knew he was real

After the show we went for a wander around the castle, which is now a museum. I loved the idea behind their first exhibition, that every object tells a story. This is so true and I often find myself thinking about how the object I am working with got to that point. I love the story of Bess going on a shopping spree in London to buy furniture, and picking out these items for her new home. I would love to know just what she though about each one, what attracted her to them and why she placed there where she did.

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The second exhibition we saw at the Castle was a temporary exhibition about the First World War. I found this fascinating as I have an interest in the subject anyway. I never knew that the metal helmets we are so used to seeing weren’t introduced until nearly half way through the war. I cannot believe they sent soldiers into war without head protection, it seems crazy. There was a case featuring some ‘Trench Art’ made from shelling casing and other materials that would have been found in the trenches. I had seen some of this before and the creativity they showcase is amazing, especially given that what the soldiers were going through was unimaginably horrific.

Trench Art

Trench Art

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After the castle we stopped for a bite to eat, and then went to jail!

Ellen's Mug Shot

Just kidding, we went to visit the Galleries of Justice at the old court-house. I have visited before and really enjoyed myself so was excited to go again.

When you arrive at the Galleries and buy a ticket you are given a criminal number to take with you on your tour. The first half of the tour is led by characters, and the second half is self led. We were first taken by a judge into the court, for our fates to be determined. The court room was beautiful, all carved wooden benches and a very impressive judges chair so you couldn’t forget who was in charge.

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The court-house was very well designed in that if found guilty, as we unfortunately were, you could be led straight from the court room down into the jail. There we were told to look at our criminal numbers and find out our crimes, and more importantly our punishments. Mine said I was to be tied to a cart and flogged. This part of the tour went down really well with the group, and had us all chatting and giggling with one another about our crimes.

Wall of Infamy

Wall of Infamy

After this we met with the executioner. He was quite sinister and talked us through his job, life (and death) in the jail, and even let us sample some of the cells. From here we were let loose to explore the jail and learn about the reforms made to the system. We finally made it outside to the yard to be greeted by a hangman who had made a science out of execution. He was a real gent and clearly very passionate about his job, each to their own I suppose.

The Hang Man

The Hang Man

Next, narrowly escaping the noose we were sent for transportation, and then on to learn about prison breaks and finally the modern prison system. At the end of the tour was a temporary exhibition about crime and punishment during the First World War, and all the extra duties police men had to keep the country safe from spies. There was also an exhibition about a man who had drowned his three wives in a bath tub, who we had heard about in the court room. The galleries even had the murderous bathtub on display.

Hez in the stocks

Hez in the stocks

Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

We really enjoyed our day out in Nottingham and I can’t wait to go back and discover more, as there seems to be so much to do there. I love having exciting new places to discover so close to home!

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Encountering Moseley Old Hall

Just after I had returned from my visit to Packwood and Baddesley I was off to another Trust property, this time for a training day!

As part of a large project taking place at Hardwick which I seem to have taken on a large part of the responsibility for me and Sadie have been going on several training courses. The latest of which was hosted at Moseley Old Hall, a lovely property in the Midlands with a very exciting story to tell.

Moseley Old Hall

Moseley Old Hall

The project we are taking part in looks at how to tell our properties stories in a different way, through active engagement and conversation. I got involved in this project thanks to my background as a re-enactor and am really enjoying it so far, even if it is going to be a lot of hard work!

We were having our meeting at Moseley as they have already been through the project that Hardwick is now undertaking. Recently Moseley decided to open Mondays and Tuesdays, when traditionally they had always been closed. The team saw this as an opportunity and decided to have these days manned by volunteer costumed interpreters.

Making Reed Tapers

Making Reed Tapers

Every so often they also have a special event where the volunteer team stage the day to be the most dramatic day in Moseley’s history, the day they harbored King Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651. I really want to go and visit on this day, it sounds fantastic! It is a really bold move that the team have made but so far it seems to be working for them.

The Dresser in the Brew-House

The Dresser in the Brew-House

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to wander around the hall, meet the volunteers and see what activities they were doing. We started on the middle floor and so we went through several rooms before we encountered a volunteer, which left us with a strange sense of almost naughty freedom that you don’t usually find yourself with in a National Trust property (unless of course you work there!).

As we were exploring we found the Priest Hole King Charles had hidden in. It was nice to just discover the hall for ourselves but it worries me that if I had not had someone with me who knew the property I would have missed the significance of this unassuming hole in the floor.

The Priest Hole

The Priest Hole

At one point I get distracted by their brilliant fake fires! This is what happens when you work in the heritage industry, you get excited by the most random things and are always looking for good ideas to inspire you. The fake fire in this grate even ‘smoked’!

The Fake Fire

The Fake Fire+–

The volunteers were doing things like making Reed Tapers in front of the real fire and explaining period board games, which kept us all amused for quite a while! Several of the games where ones I play when I am my Medieval alter-ego. It was nice that Moseley has the freedom to light fires in the grate and space for these interactive activities.

I also spotted a really beautiful clock in the Entrance Hall. I quite like clocks because they are such a practical object that is regularly so beautifully made and ornately decorated! I always enjoyed being responsible for winding all the clock at Greyfriars.

The Clock

The Clock

A glimps of the pretty Garden through the window

A glimps of the pretty Garden through the window

The outdoors at Moseley is just as beautiful as the indoors, and there is just as much to discover. At the end of our meeting we were told about Moseley’s new Tree House! Me and Sadie decided we just had to go and have a look for ourselves, and we were not disappointed! With a special pot of money Moseley had created an outdoor adventure area including a mammoth Tree House, with steps, ladders, scramble path and rope! Here are some pics of me ‘testing’ the Tree House out.

The Tree House

The Tree House

Testing out the rope

Testing out the rope