Nottingham in the Middle Ages (600 – 1499)

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‘Robin Hood and His Merry Men Entertaining Richard the Lionheart in Sherwood Forest’ by Daniel Maclise 1839 © Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

‘Robin Hood and His Merry Men Entertaining Richard the Lionheart in Sherwood Forest’ by Daniel Maclise 1839 © Nottingham City Museums and Galleries


Nottingham was called Tig Guocobauc, meaning a place or house of cave dwellings, and formed part of the Kingdom of Mercia, later coming under the rule of a Saxon (English) chieftain named Snot who called it Snotingaham, meaning the home, dwelling or homestead (the ham) of Snot’s people

867 or 868

Nottingham was captured by Danish Vikings and later became one of the Five Burghs (fortified towns) of The Danelaw


Records first suggest the existence of caves in Nottingham, thanks to a Welsh monk called Asser


King Edward the Elder recaptured Nottingham for the English


The first bridge was built over the River Trent at Nottingham; ordered by King Edward the Elder


William the Conqueror ordered the first wooden Castle to be built on Castle Rock


Nottingham’s French Borough and Saturday Market were established


The Domesday Book refers to Nottingham as Snotingeham and Snotingham


A church was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of Nottingham, probably St Mary’s, with the Priest named as Aitard


The approximate construction date of the original St Peter’s Church


St Mary’s Church was mentioned by name when it featured in the foundation charter of Lenton Priory


The Cluniac Priory of Lenton was founded


Robert of Gloucester and the army of the Empress Matilda attacked Nottingham Castle, held by King Stephen, they set fire to the town and massacred the parishioners of St Peter’s who had taken refuge in the church


Much of Nottingham was destroyed by fire


A Royal Charter granted by Henry II confirmed Nottingham’s rights and liberties


Henry II replaced the old bridge over the River Trent with a new one, called the Heth Beth Bridge


Nottingham Castle was rebuilt in stone as a principal royal fortress by Henry II


Newstead Abbey was probably founded in 1170 by Henry II in atonement for the murder of Thomas a Becket


Nottingham’s St Peter’s Church shows traces of construction from about this date; the original church of around 1100 was destroyed by fire


Nottingham was the first place in England to record an earthquake


The approximate establishment date of Nottingham’s Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem public house

24 March 1194

Richard the Lionheart captured Nottingham Castle from his brother John after a three day siege


During an uprising by the Welsh Prince Llewellyn, King John ordered the execution of 28 Welsh boy hostages, who were hanged on the walls of Nottingham Castle

15 June 1215

Magna Carta was signed by King John at Runnymede; the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. The charter was an important part of the process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world


The approximate establishment date of Nottingham’s Ye Olde Salutation Inn public house


Henry lll ordered improvements to Nottingham Castle, including a twin towered gatehouse


Carmelite friars founded a Friary on Friar Lane

12 February 1284

The Royal Charter of Edward I granted the office of Mayor to Nottingham; the first appointment was Roger de Crophill


The earliest mention of Nottingham’s Bridge Estate for the maintenance of bridges over the River Trent


Oak panelling was used in a building in the original Shambles; a group of shops near the Market Place, this panelling is still in use in the present day Council House that was later built on the site

October 1330

Roger Mortimer, the lover of Queen Isabella, was captured by supporters of her son, King Edward III, who entered the castle through the system of caves in Castle Rock


Goose Fair (or Goods Fair as it was originally known) was cancelled because of the Black Death


About half of Nottingham’s population of around 3,000 people died during the Black Death


The first written record of the Shire Hall site in the Lace Market being used as a law court


A capitation tax roll of Edward III showed the population of Nottingham to be 2,300


The south aisle wall was the first part of the Church of St Mary the Virgin to be constructed, the church is mentioned in the Domesday Book and is believed to have been on the site since the early Saxon period, the main body of the present building is at least the third on the site


The Mayor of Nottingham, John de Plumptre, founded Plumptre Hospital


The unallocated common well providing water to Nottingham had its hauling equipment repaired


Pope Boniface IX granted a ten year Indulgence for alms to be used for the fabric, conservation or repair of St Mary’s Church


The approximate establishment date of Nottingham’s Bell Inn, a Grade II listed public house


The first written reference to the Shire Hall site in the Lace Market being used as a prison

28 June 1449

The Charter of King Henry VI separated the borough of Nottingham from the county and approved the appointment of Sheriffs for the two Boroughs of Nottingham; the first incumbents were William Sadler and Thomas Lyng


Wealthy local merchant Thomas Thurland built the historic mansion Thurland Hall, the building and grounds covering about eight and a half acres near the centre of Nottingham


New building and refurbishment of Nottingham Castle was completed for Edward lV


The Mayor and other local notables welcomed Richard Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) on his visit to Nottingham


Richard III left Nottingham Castle for Bosworth, where he died in battle

16 June 1487

7,000 men were killed at the battle of Stoke Field, between Nottingham and Newark, the bloodiest battle ever fought in Nottinghamshire

12 October 1492

The first sighting of land (the Bahamas) on the first voyage to the New World by Christopher Columbus

Continue to ‘Early Modern Nottingham (1500 – 1799)’

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For other information about Nottingham click here

If you want to know more about Nottingham’s past there is further information in ‘Events and dates in Nottingham’s history’ and through these websites:

The Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway

The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

Nottingham Local Studies Library


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