Sheriff claims Bassetlaw folk should claim Robin Hood legend as ‘their own’

A man who champions legendary baddie the Sheriff of Nottingham is calling on folk living in Bassetlaw to reclaim the Robin Hood legend from Nottingham City.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 10:31 pm

The Sheriff, who regularly appears at local events in his medieval costume says Robin Hood “never once stepped inside Nottingham Castle,” although his statue is famously there, and it is where the Robin Hood story has long been associated.

According to Richard Townsley, a guide in Sherwood Forest, most of the folk tales and ballads written about Robin place him firmly in the historic Royal Sherwood Forest - outside of the city – an area which covered the length and breadth of North Nottinghamshire.

Even the the Sheriff’s title was officially the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, not Nottingham, said Richard.

The Sheriff of Nottingham with the band of outlaws by the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest

“He was just referred to as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

“Robin Hood really belongs to Sherwood Forest. The forest was his home his favourite haunt and his natural hideout. He did not belong to Nottingham. The recent redevelopment of Nottingham Castle has seen Nottingham appropriate our Sherwood hero.”

Richard points to key places in the legends about Robin Hood.

The Major Oak, Robin’s reputed hide out at Edwinstowe, thought to be 1200-1500 years old, is now at the living heart of the former Royal Forest. Maid Marion and Robin were married at St Mary’s Church at Edwinstowe and Will Scarlet is allegedly buried in Blidworth church.

The Sheriff of Nottingham - 'he wasn't a bad guy' says Richard Townsley, Sherwood Forest guide

In Nottinghamshire’s Mansfield, near the market place a plaque reads "The Sherwood Forest Centre Tree”, stating that an ancient tree which grew on this site until 1940 was reputed to mark the centre of Sherwood Forest.

The Robin Hood area reaches out across South Yorkshire, where ‘Robin of Loxley,’ reputedly originated, and hits parts of Derbyshire; Little John is famously, allegedly buried at St Michael and All Angels' Church, in Hathersage.

Richard, is also on a mission to re-brand the long maligned Sheriff who became the butt of the medieval joke, as the one who policed the society, officiated over legal disputes and collected taxes.

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A plaque in Mansfield town centre marks the historic centre of Sherwood Forest.

‘Underdog’

Explaining why he likes to defend the Sheriff, Richard said: “I’ve always liked the underdog, although the Sheriff of Nottingham represents power, he’s actually the underdog, he always ends up losing to Robin the hero. He was joked about in ballads and stories for centuries. We all still like cocking a snook at authority figures.

"Robin had a relationship with the Sheriff for much longer than with Maid Marian. He is an important part of the tales. Characters such as Will Scarlett, Little John and the Sheriff, are all mentioned in the early stories, Maid Marian only appears much later.

"I just think the Sheriff’s reputation needs a bit of rehab, he was not always a bad guy. I ask the kids who come on tours, if someone steals your dinner in the forest, who are you going to call?

Sherwood forest's famous Major Oak.

"We all dislike parking wardens until someone blocks our drive. I think it’s time we got the message out: “don’t shoot the sheriff!” I still think he was actually one of the good guys!

"I also think it is time we reclaimed Robin Hood, he had little to do with Nottingham.

"It’s time to rise up, reclaim him as ours!”