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Nottingham History!

There is evidence of human settlement in Nottinghamshire dating back thousands of years. Excavations at Creswell Crags, a group of limestone caves near Worksop, have revealed continuous human occupation from 40,000 - 28,000 BC.

People of snot - Later the Romans built the Fosse Way, linking Leicester and Lincoln. When the Anglo Saxons colonised Nottinghamshire they established the fortified borough of Snotengaham on a steep sandstone outcrop. The name meant the "ham" of the people of Snot. Luckily for the locals the Normans later dropped the unattractive "S". War and peace - However, their arrival also coincided with a period of conflict. Major castles and defensive walls were built at Nottingham and Newark while a series of "mottes" (castle on earth mounds) were constructed in the countryside at villages like Laxton and Cuckney. Domesday - The Domesday Book (1086) records invaluable information on these early settlements. Around this time Sherwood Forest was preserved to provide hunting for the Norman Kings and has since become world famous for its association with Robin Hood, his Merry Men and the Major Oak. In medieval times Nottingham Castle became an important stronghold, defending a major route to the north of England. Under the Castle and other parts of the town there is an extensive network of tunnels and caves in the sandstone, some of which can still be visited today

Abbeys and churches
The Normans also had a passion for building churches. At Southwell Minster, begun around 1108, the imposing nave is a fine example of Norman architecture. Abbeys and priories were established in places like Worksop, Newstead, Welbeck and Rufford. Religion was at the heart of life in medieval times, so much so that many churches were enlarged or rebuilt to hold larger congregations; one of the great town churches being St. Mary's in Nottingham.

Pilgrim Fathers - In the late 1500's a religious movement began in North Nottinghamshire that was to shake the world. In the villages of Babworth and Scrooby a group of religious thinkers began to formulate new religious (nonconformist) ideas. They became known as the Pilgrim Fathers and eventually sailed to New England in 1620 on the Mayflower. Salvation Army - Many religions are now represented in Nottinghamshire. Nottingham itself was the birthplace of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. He was born in Notintone Place, Sneinton, a suburb of the city. The Salvation Army now works throughout the world. Open fields - In the medieval period most villagers farmed their land on an open-field system. Each farmer worked scattered "strips" of land among several large, unhedged fields. At Laxton the fields are still farmed this way.

All change
Elsewhere the end of the open system came in the 18th century when fields were "enclosed" by acts of Parliament. Individual plots were distributed between farmers. Hedges and farmhouses began to dominate the countryside. In modern times industrial farming has resulted in the loss of many hedgerows and woodland although conservation bodies are campaigning to preserve important areas of natural and historic landscape.

Country houses
Although many country houses have vanished from history there are some which survive to this day. Sir Francis Willoughby used income from land and coal deposits to build Wollaton Hall, just outside Nottingham, in the 1580s. Nice place Several houses were built following the dissolution (closure) of religious houses, including Welbeck Abbey, Rufford Abbey and Newstead Abbey, which became home to the Byron family. In Victorian times the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland lived at Welbeck. He built a network of subterranean rooms, including a chapel and ballroom. Built in the 1770s, Clumber was the "seat" of the powerful Dukes of Newcastle. Although demolished in 1938, the National Trust now has its regional office in the outbuildings. A number of other Victorian houses have also survived, including Kelham Hall, which is now the offices of Newark and Sherwood District Council, and Bestwood Lodge, now used as a hotel.

Canals and railways
Canals provided vital links in the county's transport system. The Chesterfield Canal (opened 1777) cut across north Nottinghamshire, linking Derbyshire with the inland port of West Stockwith. The Nottingham Canal (opened 1796) connected the River Trent, at Trent Bridge, with Langley Mill, near Eastwood.

Time marches on
The earliest railway in Nottingham is thought to have been a wooden line from the Willoughby coal pits at Wollaton to Nottingham that existed in the 1600's.In 1819 a railway, at first using horses to pull the wagons, was opened between Pinxton Wharf and Mansfield. In May 1839 a steam railway line connecting Nottingham to Derby was opened by the Midland Counties Railway. In the 1890's a railway was cut right through Nottingham, which required navvies to dig a series of tunnels right under the city. The Victoria station was opened on 24th May 1900. It was demolished in 1967 and today only the clock tower remains.

Industrial heritage
Even in medieval times industry was important in Nottinghamshire. Coal was dug in outcrops near the Derbyshire border; cloth manufacture and dyeing were vital to trade and Nottingham was famed throughout Europe for its alabaster monuments (examples of which are still on display at Nottingham Castle).

Lace - The invention of the stocking frame in 1589, reputedly by the Rev. William Lee of Calverton, lay at the heart of industrialisation.
By the late 1700's hose production employed thousands of framework knitters in and around Nottingham. Poor conditions in 1811 led to Luddite riots in the city, with many knitting frames being smashed. Yet Victorian times saw a dramatic expansion of the lace industry and around St. Mary's Church in Nottingham the streets were lined by towering lace warehouses which exported the material all over the world. Wheels, pills and pits Nottingham also became the centre for several major companies including the Raleigh Cycle Company and Players cigarettes. The Boots Company was founded by Jesse Boot who was a great benefactor to the city. He donated land for the new University at Highfields, opened in 1928. The 19th and 20th centuries saw the rapid growth of coal mining in the county. It transformed whole landscapes and communities but in recent years it has declined dramatically creating major problems for the survival of former mining areas.