Wednesday, 18 July 2018


Many of my posts are written in retrospect, they are reports on happenings and events that I have experienced directly. Many are memoirs of memorable visits to places of significance. This is of course natural, much of my blog has a near journalistic quality as I report my adventures, museum visits and theatre attendances. This post is one of those but written this time with one eye on the future, as I look forward to attending events of a similar nature this year.

On Saturday the 1st of July I attended a charity event at the Royal Oak public house in Oakbrook, a village close to Derby. The afternoon event; featuring three dance sides, was hosted by the Royal Oak to raise money for the Laura Centre. The Laura Centre is a bereavement counselling service that is both for parents that have lost a child and for children who have a parent. A charitable organisation of distinction.

I arrived at the Royal Oak to find the event well underway. It was a beautiful afternoon, bright and warm. The Royal Oak is a favourite pub of mine, serving real ales, ciders and sometimes even a mead. The food is excellent. Indeed the stilton and onion cobs are something quite special.

Ordering a drink and food, I set up my camera and settled in. My intention was to enjoy an afternoon of traditional dance entertainment and the performers did not disappoint.

It was one of those rare occasions when I did not just take stills but used my second camera to record the dances on video. These clips are now on YouTube and the links are below.

Video clips on Youtube

I will not bore the reader by opening the debate upon the origins of Morris dance, its name or whether the activity is older than the 15th century. It is enough to state that Morris dance today represents something intrinsically English, something deeply traditional within our culture.

Sadly there are many within our society today, who view such pastimes as humourous, as a source of merriment. Activities such as traditional dance and other customs have become as a legitimate target of derogatory remarks. Credit should be given to those who participate and endeavour to keep such customs alive.

The afternoon included dances from three groups, the Ripley Morris, the Greenwood Clog and the Ripley Green Garters. All three acquitted themselves well and as often happens, the public were invited to join in with a few selected dances. I recognised one or two visitors from other dance sides, including a well-known dancer from the Foresters Morris.

The entertainment ended far too quickly. I had thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I was left looking forward to another similar event planned for later in the month. That of course is for a future report.

The Laura Centre (Leicestershire UK)

The Laura Centre (Derby UK)

Royal Oak Ockbrook Derbyshire UK

Royal Oak Ockbrook Derbyshire UK

Ripley Morris Men

Ripley Morris Men

Greenwood Step Clog Dancers

Greenwood Step Clog Dancers

Robin Hood Experience - New Beginnings and Herne’s Return to Nottingham

It is now almost two years since the official grand opening of the Robin Hood Legacy (29th August 2016) and it is one year since the New Beginning Celebration. The New Beginnings Celebration on the 15th of July 2017 marked a change in management, with the resident Robin Hood and manager Adam Greenwood, becoming owner-manager of the venue.

Since the attraction first opened its doors it has undergone necessary change, modification and the displays have also had some revision. This is continuous and it has to be. Nottingham is a big city and it is a tough city. Tough for businesses and tough for any tourist attraction, there is a lot of competition.

In the two years since the opening the Robin Hood Legacy has had to adapt to change and face competition, this Adam Greenwood has done with professionalism and courage. An actor, a model a gifted writer and now a businessman, one wonders if there is an end to this man’s talent.

What worked within the attraction has been kept and what did not work, had been erased. One vitally important change of direction almost, was the rebranding a year ago as the Robin Hood Experience. I personally and this is perhaps a matter of taste, preferred the use of ‘Legacy.’ I liked the historical overtones, the heritage inferred. The change however, was a business decision and a not an idealistic step. It was felt that ‘Legacy’ did not suggest the primary philosophy behind the venture and that ‘Experience’ was more inclusive, suggesting less of a shop selling tourist souvenirs and more of an experiential adventure.

The presentation of this adventure is no easy matter, it requires imagination. The attraction has to be both educational and entertaining, while weaving threads of history within the fabric of a legend. Divided over three floors of a fine Georgian building, the attraction presents one particular version of the Robin Hood Legend. Adventurers begin the exploration on the top floor and work their way down back to the foyer. They are met by various characters for the legend, displayed as talking manikins and there are numerous side exhibits to be examined.

Many new information boards and items of interest have been added, many retelling the legend, many reflecting the continued interest in Robin Hood, in literature, on film and in art. Pictures, books and replica props from television and film, adorn the attraction in abundance.

One remarkable exhibit that will appeal to Robin Hood fans and those with an interest in the mythology behind the legend, is one important television prop on display at the Robin Hood Experience. In one of the upper rooms is the Herne the Hunter costume from the Robin of Sherwood television series that ran from 1984 to 1986.

This is not a copy. This is the genuine prop worn by that fine British character actor; the late John Abineri, in the Goldcrest Films television production. As such, it holds a very special place within the Robin Hood environment. Many still remember the television series and it is said, that a new generation of fans have discovered the programme. Robin of Sherwood remains highly popular and influential. It has become something of a benchmark with which later tellings of the legend are compared.

Herne the Hunter is on loan to the people of Nottingham from Goldcrest Films and despite being rather worn at over thirty five years old, it is an important piece of British Television history. Its gracious loan was arranged by that well-known local actor Tony Rotherham and for many years the costume was on display at the ‘Tales of Robin Hood’ in Nottingham.

After the closure of that attraction in 2009 the costume ‘disappeared’ from public view. Its actual location became something of an open secret. Herne the Hunter’s return to public view in Nottingham is something to be celebrated, both for the mythological elements attached to his name, his prominence within British mythology and for his place within the history of Robin Hood retellings. Herne the Hunter has a new home and has made a welcome return.