“Nottingham is a real slice of middle England, with the city full of both rich history and modern life. It’s a UNESCO City of Literature, no less, inspiring writers and poets like Byron and D.H. Lawrence. It’s the birthplace of the English Civil War, and also has a rich sporting heritage,” says Chris Hickman, communications manager for Visit Nottinghamshire.
During our trip to Nottinghamshire, a county in Central England that is home to the city of Nottingham, as well as an expansive countryside and market towns, we explored, among other things, the life of literary icon Lord Byron during a visit to Newstead Abbey, which was led by none other than the poet himself (well, sort of…read on).
A Visit With the Lord Himself
At Newstead Abbey, which has the aura of an ancient castle rather than a private home turned public museum, guests will get an introduction to Lord Byron both as a civilian and a poet. While touring the abbey’s dining room, bedroom, and writing and living areas, the guide, dressed as Lord Byron, shares the history of the house and of Byron himself. Many of the poet’s published works and personal paintings, swords, letters, and more are on display throughout the abbey.
It was a snowy day when we visited, but for those visiting on warmer days, the ground’s landscapes and gardens are said to be an idyllic place to relax while looking out for peacocks, swans, and geese.
On the Hunt With an Outlaw
Another tour takes guests through Nottingham with Robin Hood at the helm, a unique way to learn about the city’s history and culture. Robin Hood leads visitors to the Lace Market, a historic quarter-mile square area where they learn about the city’s lace industry in the 18th and 19th centuries; in fact, during the British Empire, this historic area was the center of the world’s lace industry; today it’s a protected heritage area spilling over with bars, restaurants, and shops.
The tour takes visitors to the Pitcher & Piano restaurant, a restored church featuring stained glass windows and exposed brick archways. It definitely makes for an interesting stop for a bite to eat. For dinner, suggest the World Service Restaurant housed in 17th century Newdigate House, where your clients can enjoy a AAA- and Michelin-rated fine dining experience from a menu that changes daily and which blends British cuisine with worldwide influences.
Continuing on with the tour, it also visits Nottingham Castle, which I learned has some of the 850 man-made caves underneath; however, it’s closed until 2020 for renovations. When it reopens, it will offer virtual reality Robin Hood activities, cave tours, and more. Tour price is $20.28 pp (converted from pounds at press time), or clients can opt for one of the other two Robin Hood tours: Robin Hood Sherwood Forest and Nottingham in a Nutshell.
(This is a good time to book your clients on a Robin Hood tour as the latest film based
on this character will be released this November nationwide.)
Recommend a detour to The Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath, which we accessed via cable car while taking in the views of the snowy hillside below.
Three-hundred years ago travelers began to arrive in the area when they discovered its curative thermal waters. Today, guests can take a guided tour to learn about the history of the area, part of which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. There’s an underground tour to see two caverns where mining once took place. Here, guests can see carvings and inscriptions left by miners, and guests can enjoy lunch on site at the Vista Bar & Restaurant while taking in the stunning views. Matlock Bath is about an hour’s drive from Nottinghamshire, and about two hours by train. Adult tickets to access The Heights of Abraham are priced at $24.
Nottinghamshire makes for a perfect day trip as it “is easy to reach from London, Birmingham and Manchester, as well as nearby East Midlands Airport and has award-winning public transport,” says Hickman. “The city-center is compact and walkable, with Old Market Square at its heart—the largest such public square in the U.K.” Travelers can reach Nottinghamshire from London in about two hours by train and three by car.