Wednesday, 18 July 2018

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.


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