Robin Hood News-Line:
Jan
04

Warts and All!

Warts and All!

It's a globally known fact that Nottingham and Notts are traditionally and inseparably linked to the Robin Hood legend. Whether we like it or not, our City and County haven't any real choice in the matter. There are no "opt-outs" for the local authorities on the issue and they cannot "cherry-pick" the mixed blessings that the historical associations bring. They have to accept the world-famous links at face value, "warts and all" – the good, the bad and the downright ugly – and the archives are full of examples covering all three of these categories!

Because of the huge international impact of the legend, you don't have to be a great mathematician to work out that the publicity and promotional benefits of the Robin Hood connections far outweigh any negative aspects - although some sections of the local business community still need a lot of convincing! The diversity and adaptability of the Robin Hood "brand" represents the absolute pinnacle of marketing practice and achievement, ticking all the boxes in the profession's text book. In fact, the sheer extent of the varied applications in which the brand has been used makes Coca Cola look like a comparative novice!

However, the Robin Hood links are not without their problems for the City and County authorities and past experience has shown that the legendary outlaw can be a potentially embarrassing loose cannon and a public relations "firework"! Statistics repeatedly show that, year round, 24/7, some aspect associated with the iconic legend will "light the blue touch paper" and spark global media interest with quite unpredictable results. The issue may explode in a spectacular display that bathes the authorities in a blaze of glory or, as past experience has also shown, things can go embarrassingly out of control and blow up in their face! The one thing that is definitely certain beyond doubt is that the subject of Robin Hood never fails to ignite public and media interest – locally, nationally and globally – and every week seems to bring new revelations.

At the time of writing this column, the week's particular "mixed bag" of Robin Hood related issues includes the launch of a new audio CD of the Robin Hood story "with a twist", featuring actor Lee Ingleby (TV detective George Gently's Geordie sidekick); "The Tunnellers- Maid Marian's People" – an inventive, contemporary adventure novel for 8-10 year olds by local author Helen Dennis; the appearance of Robin Hood Bingo.com on the on-line gaming scene!; the imminent publication of new research findings showing that, in certain aspects, the City and County are "barely out of the starting blocks" when compared with the diverse global exploitation of the Robin Hood brand; and a proposed in-depth survey of a cross-section of the local business community to try to get a better understanding of their views on the benefits (or otherwise) of the area's Robin Hood connections. Oh, and of course there's the continuing "deafening silence" from the local marketing and advertising profession regarding the mystifying conundrum of how Nottingham can claim to have a "Creative Quarter", yet fail to effectively utilise the City's legendary, iconic brand!!! (Perhaps their fingers are still burning from the embarrassingly controversial "Slanty N"!)

Jan
04

Hats off to Robin! – How the outlaw’s headwear became such an iconic symbol

Hats off to Robin! – How the outlaw’s headwear became such an iconic symbol

 There are many types of recognisable headgear that instantly identify the group the wearer belongs to - including the cowboy's stetson, the knight's armoured helmet, the pirate's bandana, the fireman's hard-hat and the American Indian's head-dress etc. - but the one item of headwear that immediately establishes an association with a single person's name is the traditional Robin Hood Hat!

The familiar, triangular-shaped cloth cap with a feather in it has become an iconic and recognisable item of clothing that universally identifies the wearer as "Robin Hood"! Historians tell us that it was probably originally designed as a practical piece of medieval headgear used primarily by foresters, as its slim forward-pointing brim avoided it catching the string of their longbows when firing an arrow. The simplicity of the style, with some decorative additions, later saw the hat evolve into the mainstream fashion of the period. The familiar shaped hat has also been used as the distinguishing feature on numerous illustrations and commercial brands ranging from the giant US Walmart supermarket chain to, at a more local level, "The Nottingham" building society and it is frequently worn by campaigners for social justice such as Oxfam's Robin Hood Tax initiative and representative groups such as the California Nurses Association.

One of the most famous uses of the hat "brand" is by the Robin Hood Flour Company based in Saskatchewan, Canada, who first introduced it on their stylised logo when the business was founded in 1909. In fact, the flour brand became so well known as a household name in North America that the original logo was actually used as the reference that inspired Errol Flynn's iconic hat and costume for Warner Brothers classic 1938 movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

Another, somewhat unusual, Hollywood connection was recounted by film star, Katharine Hepburn in her memoirs of the making of the 1951, Oscar nominated movie, "The African Queen." She recalls being on location in Uganda, South Africa and on a break from filming, accompanying her co-star, Humphrey Bogart and director, John Huston on an expedition into the bush. Describing the party setting-off, she states, "We were walking along in single file, each one carrying his own things. We were led by the black native that knew this country. He carried a sort of spear about six or seven feet long. He was naked except for a pair of vey short shorts and he wore a dark-green Robin Hood hat, pointed in crown and in brim."

There are of course literally hundreds of pubs, inns and hotels with Robin Hood related names and on the pictorial signs that usually hang outside these establishments, Robin is frequently shown wearing the characteristic hat with a feather and, on some of the older signs, the artists often disproportionately over-emphasised the size of the feather, making the hat look more like a cavalier's headwear from the English Civil War!

Over the centuries that the Robin Hood tales have been told and re-told, the Robin Hood Hat has been the simplest of costumes by which to define the character and has become an essential stock wardrobe item in schools, amateur dramatic productions and theatre and repertory companies. Easy to make and store - yet instantly recognisable.

It has also proved indispensable to cartoonists who found that by just adding a simply drawn Robin Hood hat to their illustrations the figures quickly conveyed the context of the character they were trying to create. So whether they were a political satirist depicting David Cameron as the "Sheriff of Notting Hill" or Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny on a Sherwood Forest caper in an animated film short, showing them wearing a Robin Hood hat with feather immediately put their drawings in character.

However, not everyone saw the traditional hat in an attractive light. To some it seemed twee and hackneyed and (excuse the pun!) old hat and a look-back at a few of the more recent portrayals of Robin Hood on the big and small screen shows that Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Patrick Bergin and Jonas Armstrong preferred to ditch the iconic Errol Flynn headgear as being out-dated and old-fashioned. Perhaps they felt it was not masculine enough for a hard-hitting, modern day film hero and so their costumes incorporated the use of a hood or cowl, more in keeping with the outlaw's name and ability to slip un-recognised into the safety of Sherwood Forest.

But the Robin Hood hat still remains a firm favourite with the general public ; a fact that is confirmed by its popularity as a top-selling visitor souvenir and fancy dress costume. So, whether it's young boys wearing one to act out their hero in a wooden sword fight or "big boys" with one jauntily perched on their heads on a Nottingham Stag Night, the Robin Hood hat still survives and is here to stay!

Additional suggested panel: A FEATHER IN HIS CAP!

The most essential and recognisable feature of a traditional Robin Hood hat is, of course, the feather and the origins of this symbolic decoration lie in a general world-wide custom adopted by hunters and warriors. The forester who killed his first game-bird signified the honour of his achievement by putting a single feather in his cap, just as the American Indians added a feather to their head dress for every enemy slain and many other tribes and civilisations throughout history had similar practices.

However, the recent "Feather In Your Cap" Awards promoted by the World Wide Robin Hood Society reflect a more docile and non-violent use of the popular phrase! The new quarterly awards are made to business and commerce in recognition of the innovative use of links with the Robin Hood legend in marketing and promotion practice and the winners receive a framed certificate that features a specially commissioned logo with a distinctive Robin Hood hat with a feather!

Jan
04

Yorkshire's claim to Robin Hood is raised in parliament

Yorkshire's claim to Robin Hood is raised in parliament

Nottinghamshire frequently goes into a tug-of-war battle with the County of Yorkshire to defend its globally known traditional links with the Robin Hood legend but, in 2004, the issue reached a new level when Yorkshire MP David Hinchcliffe introduced a non-binding motion in the House of Commons calling for the House to recognise Yorkshire’s claim to the legend.

The motion received the initial support of 28 other parliamentarians and to rectify what they maintained was an historical inaccuracy, they were advocating the removal of all the existing Nottinghamshire road signs proclaiming motorists were entering “Robin Hood Country” . Further insult was also added to Nottinghamshire’s injury when a new airport near Doncaster in South Yorkshire was named Robin Hood!

Now the media all recognise that the whole world loves a Robin Hood story and so it didn’t take long for this one to go global and hit the international headlines. It was picked up by the prestigious New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and The Age in Australia. The story also appeared extensively in the European press and back in the UK there was a large colour picture of the Robin Hood Statue on the front page of The Guardian and Yorkshire’s claims were even discussed on the Richard and Judy TV Show.

Nottinghamshire MP for Bassetlaw, John Mann, dismissed Yorkshire’s claims as a “historically inaccurate myth” and the long-standing references to Nottingham Castle and the Sheriff of Nottingham in the traditional, legendary tales, once again blew the Yorkshire theory to pieces!

The outcome of all the media attention also showed that even if Yorkshire’s claims were ever proved to be true, over the centuries, fiction has triumphed over fact in the case of Robin Hood, and the general public made it quite clear that they did not want their much-loved legend tampered with!

Jan
04

New Robin Hood “Reality Check” booklet puts the legend into perspective!

New Robin Hood “Reality Check” booklet puts the legend into perspective!

A new, “Robin Hood Reality Check” booklet has been published that contains a miscellany of past and present  facts, opinions, comments, quotations and viewpoints that give a broad perspective on just where the iconic legend stands in 2016 - together with aspects of its related links to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Compiled by the internet-based World Wide Robin Hood Society, to help deal with the wide variety of enquiries it regularly receives from the media, students, historians, film buffs and fans of the legend etc.; it also contains updates on the latest proposals for Nottingham Castle and the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.

Society Chairman, Bob White, says ”Research has shown that in differing ways, the traditional stories and characters in the Robin Hood legend often impact on a diverse spectrum of information and creative arts, ranging from historically related facts to various aspects of contemporary popular culture. Consequently, the subject of Robin Hood has become extensively complex, so this new Reality Check publication provides a brief reference to some of the key facts, issues and perceptions associated with the legend at the start of 2016.”

Mr White points out that the Society has also deliberately  included reference to some of the past mistakes and lost opportunities that failed to effectively capitalise on the City and County’s connections to the Robin Hood legend, commenting that  “It is over 64 years since the question of Nottingham’s failure to meet visitor expectations was first raised and by including references to some of the flawed decisions and hollow rhetoric that has gone before, it is hoped that lessons can be learned for the future. The issue still remains the “Achilles heel” in the City’s marketing claims to being a switched-on, visionary destination!”

Copies of the “Robin Hood Reality Check” are being distributed to key individuals and organisations in the local business, commercial and community sectors and the document is also available as a PDF in a “flip-page” format that can be viewed and downloaded at

Robin Hood Reality Check

For further background information or comment, contact Bob White by e-mail at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jan
04

Robin Hood Day celebrations fire an arrow around the world

Robin Hood Day celebrations fire an arrow around the world

CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL ROBIN HOOD DAY 2015 WITH A GLOBAL “ROUND ROBIN” TWEETATHON!

"Together we're going to fire an arrow around the world!"

International Robin Hood Day this year takes place on Saturday 17th October and to mark the event the City of Nottingham wants people around the world to play a game via Twitter, aiming to shoot Robin Hood's arrow right around the globe through the power of tweets!

The game has been created by developers at Hit Point Games and will be launched at 12 noon on Saturday 17th October by a party of legendary characters including Robin Hood, the Pied Piper of Hamlein, William Tell and the Sheriff of Nottingham at the National Videogame Arcade in Hockley, Nottingham.

Every 5 minutes a virtual arrow will be launched on www.gamecity.org/robinhoodday and attempt to circumnavigate the world. Each arrow is "powered" by tweets – so the more tweets that are sent using hashtag #RobinHood Day during the day, the further the arrow will travel and you can watch each arrow's progress on the website.

Here's how to join in! It's really easy!

  1. Send your tweets on Saturday 17th October by using the hashtag #RobinHood Day and pledging to do something in the spirit of Robin Hood – meaning anything on the themes of tackling poverty, redistribution of wealth, altruism, and expert archery etc. Wearing green tights would also be good but avoid ambush, kidnap and theft – so no crimes please!!
  2. Your name will then be added to the list of Robin Hood's merry men!
  3. Watch the progress of the arrow on www.gamecity.org/robinhoodday.

The City of Nottingham hopes that the game will involve people all around the world in celebrating the legend that is Robin Hood.

Jan
04

Find Robin Hood! – New initiative launched to trace the impact of the legend

Find Robin Hood! – New initiative launched to trace the impact of the legend

GLOBAL SOCIETY ENLISTS THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM TO ENCOURAGE THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR THE OUTLAW HERO.

The internet-based World Wide Robin Hood Society are asking the general public to keep an eye open for any instances where Robin Hood’s name is being used, along with other character and place names from the traditional tale. It might be in the name of a company or business; a public house or restaurant etc; a place name or geographic location; a street or road name or it might simply be an outline or image on a sign etc. Wherever Robin and his legendary companions are  hiding – the public are being asked to search him out and the Society have persuaded the present day Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Glyin Jenkins to also encourage everyone to be on the look-out for any references to characters and places from the legend such as Little John, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forest and of course the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The initiative is all part of a new research project being set up by the World Wide Robin Hood Society, designed to help establish the true impact of the Robin Hood legend, both here in the UK and around the globe. Chairman, Bob White says “Just over a year ago the Society ran a very limited pilot scheme to test public reaction to the idea and its success confirmed that the initiative had a lot of potential. The pilot scheme also revealed just how varied the Robin Hood connections were and it became apparent that with the rapid development of technology it was absolutely essential to also provide a facility for the public to be able to submit a picture from their mobile phone or camera.”

The Sheriff said “Many local people still don’t realise just how powerful the Robin Hood legend has become in popular culture and I am pleased to help promote this initiative which also has the future potential aim of creating a network of educational, commercial and individual link-ups that could be good for business and the community in the City and County.”

“It’s really simple to take part.” commented Bob White, “When someone “finds” Robin, or any connections with his legendary friends and haunts, then they should go on-line to the specially dedicated link at www.findrobinhood.com  and let the World Wide Robin Hood Society know where and when they found the Robin Hood – related reference and, if possible, also send in a photo image or “selfie”. Each month, the person submitting the most interesting sighting will receive a token “arrow pen” and a special scroll certificate, personally signed by the present day Sheriff of Nottingham. Wherever Robin Hood is “hiding” the Society and the Sheriff want to know!”