#OTD 29 March 1194 – Richard the Lionheart visits Sherwood Forest

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The siege of Nottingham ended, so what’s a king to do? Relax! Go hunting in Sherwood Forest. 

“On the twenty-ninth day of March, Richard, king of England, went to Clipston and the forests of Sherwood, which he had never seen before, and they pleased him greatly; after which, on the same day, he returned to Nottingham.” 
–from The Annals of Roger de Hoveden

Stretching north from Nottingham to Yorkshire, 12th century Sherwood Forest covered about 100,000 acres. The visitor today must drive about 20 miles north of Nottingham to see Sherwood’s 1,000+ acres. It is extremely lovely and serene, well worth the visit.

Sherwood Forest is frequently associated with Robin Hood. Did King Richard meet Robin there? Did King John have the Sheriff of Nottingham chasing Robin and his band of Merry Men through the greenwood? No – Robin is just a character in legends, though most agree Robin may have been based on a real man or men. But the fictional tales of Robin continue to delight us. Not all stories take place in Sherwood. I use Sherwood and Nottingham in my novel, For King and Country, but many place Robin in Barnsdale Forest in Yorkshire during the reign of Edward II in the 14th century.

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Clipston (i.e., Clipstone) is the home of what we now call King John’s Palace, a site that first appears in records during the reign of Richard’s father, King Henry II. Twenty pounds was spent on work there in 1164, possibly on the building of a hunting lodge. In the 1170s, Henry spent £500 on the site, a huge sum. By the mid-14th century, the large complex was referred to as the King’s Houses and dozens of buildings occupied over 7 acres of land.

King Richard visited Clipstone twice – the day after the siege ended (March 29), and again on April 3 when he met with the Scottish king William the Lion.

Image credits 

Sherwood Forest photos by me, from a visit in 2010. CC BY-SA.

King John’s Palace ruins by JPWarchaeology – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16741588

Sources

Wright, J. A Palace for Our Kings. Triskele Publishing, 2016.

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men_full-sideCharlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of Battle Scars, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

 

 

 

 

 

My visit to Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle Gatehouse

As part of my travels in September, I was able to return to Nottingham for a half day adventure to  explore the Castle. I set several scenes of For King and Country there, so you can imagine how exciting it was for me to have an opportunity to see it from the perspective of someone with research interests rather than just being a tourist as I had been on my first visit in 2010. And there was an added bonus this time! In addition to hanging out with friends Al, Julie, and Katie, I got to take a fantastic tour of the caves.

Now Nottingham and its Castle today don’t look like Nottingham of 1193-1194. The gatehouse pictured above wasn’t built until the 1250s. (I wrote about my research in an earlier post.) Today I just want to share some photos from my trip.

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As you walk toward the gatehouse, there’s a lovely courtyard where Robin Hood is ready to defend the Castle from intruders (or is he planning to rob the rich?) The stone of what would have been been a wall of the outer bailey is visible. But in the 1190s during the reign of Richard I, the Lionheart, this would have been a timber and earthworks palisade.

After you pass through the gatehouse, which back in the 13th-17th centuries was a bit taller, you walk through the outer bailey towards the medieval bridge (above left) into what once housed the middle bailey. The photo on the right shows the view after we’d walked under the bridge and looked back. The stone bridge, which dates back to Henry II’s reign in the 12th century, would have crossed a deep ditch, which you can see in the photo I took of the sign describing the past magnificence of the site (below).  The fancy statues weren’t there in Henry’s time but were added later. The bridge is all that is left now.

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It is hard to picture the middle and upper baileys of the 12th century castle because nothing really remains of them. The Castle was reduced to rubble during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Much of the original stone was carted off for other building projects, and even the height of the upper bailey was reduced when the ducal palace was built there by William Cavendish in 1674.

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The ducal palace occupying the site, now a museum and art gallery

According to records, there was a second deep ditch separating the middle and upper baileys, also built by Henry II.  The museum has several dioramas, including this one representing the Castle circa 1500:

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Nottingham Castle, circa 1500

In the last few years, the caves and tunnels beneath the Castle are being explored and one is open for a guided tour. So we started down the uneven path…

In one area, the sandstone roof no longer exists. The guide said it had been knocked out so defensive weapons could be placed there during the Civil War.

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In some places, the tunnel was wider than it appears in the photo above. There were steps carved into the sandstone in many parts of the pathway, but nothing to hold onto except in the one area where the path was extremely steep. The tunnel winds down several hundred feet. I was glad we were going down! Men who brought supplies up from the River Leen in medieval times might have been leading pack animals up through the tunnels.

And after a hard day’s work carting supplies up, the good folk could go round the corner to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem for an ale.

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Cheers!

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Goodreads Giveaway – For King and Country

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Enter to win one of 3 signed copies! This Giveaway will run June 6 – July 5. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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See what the reviewers are saying:

“A breathtaking gallop through Richard the Lionheart’s England.”
–Sharon Bennett Connolly at The Review

“…emotional journey… With a blistering siege scene, daring escapes and a truly dastardly villain there is something for everyone here.”
thurinius (aka author LJ Trafford)

“Beautifully written, chock-full of historical details imparted elegantly throughout, For King and Country is a compelling and wonderful read.”
–author Anna Belfrage, Historical Novel Society Indie Award winner 2015 

“…the anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page while shes ties the threads of the web together. Strong characters, vivid detail and an interesting take on the Robin Hood mythology make this page turning adventure a joy to read.”
Paul Bennett, Historical Fiction Reviews

With reviews like these, can you go wrong?

Enter the Giveaway now!

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Charlene Newcomb is the author of The Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures taking place during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016. For exclusive content and early-bird announcements of special offers,  sign up for Char’s Mailing List.

Discovering 12th Century Nottingham Castle

“Richard arrived at the siege of Nottingham in a black mood and his first act was to set up an enormous gallows beneath the walls.”
— Richard Coeur de Lion by P. Henderson

Nottingham Castle c. 1189-2

Line drawing is copyright The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire. Used with permission.

Earlier this week I was a guest at Catherine Curzon’s blog. In An American in Nottingham: Writing Robin Hood at Nottingham Castle, I talk about being a tourist vs. researcher and learning about the history of Nottingham Castle. I hope you will stop by Catherine’s blog.

On a fun note, it was great to see my article retweeted by the folks at the Castle!

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king and country_small
Charlene Newcomb is the author of The Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures taking place during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Research, Writing, Star Wars, and Medieval Knights

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I had the pleasure of being interviewed by award-winning author Anna Belfrage about a week ago. I probably went on too long about my research and inspiration for the Battle Scars series, my writing roots in the Star Wars universe, and the knightly romance, i.e., the forbidden love that is a central theme of this series. Anna rounded out the interview with a wonderful review of For King and Country.

If you missed my earlier blog stops, do check them out. On Matthew’s blog I write about 12th century Nottingham and York vs what what visitors see today:

“What Char Newcomb learnt while writing Battle Scars I & II”  on Matthew Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles.

And on #EHFA, see the research behind the scene of For King and Country’s climactic battle scene:

“Richard the Lionheart and the Siege of Nottingham, 1194” on English Historical Fiction Authors 

There will be more to come, so do follow me! Sign up for my Mailing List. In the future I’ll use it – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

For King and Country and Men of the Cross

are available on Amazon sites worldwide.

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Historical Nottingham, York, and more – blog trotting adventures

king and country_small“A breathtaking gallop through Richard the Lionheart’s England.”
–Sharon Bennett Connolly on The Review blog

The knights have returned from the crusade to the Holy Land in For King and Country and face enemies at home that will take them from Lincolnshire to York to Nottingham, climaxing with the siege of Nottingham in 1194. Writing about these places required a lot of research. A writer always wants to transport the reader back in time (and preferably get it right!), but there is always a danger of overwhelming the reader with too much information.

Blog Trotting

In my blog trotting this week, I get to tell you about some of my research discoveries. I hope you will stop by to check out these posts:

“Richard the Lionheart and the Siege of Nottingham, 1194” on English Historical Fiction Authors 

and

“What Char Newcomb learnt while writing Battle Scars I & II”  on Matthew Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles.

There will be more to come, so do follow me! Sign up for my Mailing List. In the future I’ll use it – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Giveaway

One lucky person will win a copy of the ebook. See The Review. Comment there for a chance to win.

For King and Country

is available on Amazon sites worldwide.

For King and Country official launch day!

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Traitors to the crown pit Henry de Grey and his friends against dangerous enemies.

For King and Country

is now available on Amazon in print and for Kindle

Read Chapter One
Read The Review. Comment there for a chance
to win an e-copy of For King and Country.

Let me take you away to life in 12th century England.
Henry de Grey has come home a changed man.

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Political intrigue, family loyalties tested, forbidden love
sweeping battles

Enjoy a tale that offers a different look at the origins of Robin Hood.

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About For King and Country

England 1193
Civil war threatens as battle-scarred knight Henry de Grey returns from the Crusades. King Richard languishes in captivity, a prisoner of the Holy Roman Emperor. Traitors to the crown pit Henry and his friends against dangerous and unknown enemies.

Loyalties will be tested, families torn apart. Friend or foe? It is hard to tell one from the other.

The king’s brother John and his allies plot to usurp Richard’s throne. With the knights Sir Stephan and Sir Robin, Henry fights for king and country. But he must keep his feelings for Sir Stephan l’Aigle secret. Sure as arrow or sword, their forbidden love could destroy him.

War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…