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 70th Anniversary, 24th July 2022

Looking back over the 7 decades of its life.


A miscellany of facts compiled by the World Wide Robin Hood Society

Send in your pictures and past memories associated with the Statue to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


The Robin Hood Statue was commissioned by local businessman, Philip E. F. Clay to provide a landmark that recognised Nottingham’s connection with the world-famous folk hero.

Royal Academy Sculptor, James Woodford, was chosen to design and make the statue at a cost of £5,000, together with the surrounding descriptive plaques and complimentary statuary. He was born and educated in Nottingham and had won a scholarship to study at the Nottingham School of Art.

Cast in eight pieces of half inch thick bronze (made to last 6,000 years), the figure stands in a traditional archer’s pose on a two and a half ton block of white Clipsham stone.

It was presented to the City to commemorate the visit of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on June 28th 1949 during Nottingham’s Quincentenary celebrations but wasn’t actually completed and unveiled until 3 years later.

Meticulous research was undertaken by the sculptor to accurately represent how the historians believed the stocky-built medieval foresters of the period would look. However, the public were expecting to see a triangular pointed hat with a long feather, similar to actor Errol Flynn’s costume in his film role. So the statue’s authentic headgear of a woodsman’s leather skull cap sparked a controversial and divided debate that continues even to this day.

It was originally intended to have been sited at the top of Castle Road in the roadway but common sense prevailed with the realisation that traffic dangers and congestion would be a nightmare. There was also common agreement that Robin, as possibly the greatest “outsider” of them all, should be situated outside the Castle, in the shadow of its walls, typically aiming his bow at the Establishment!

At 11.30 am on Thursday July 24th 1952, the Robin Hood Statue was finally unveiled by the Duchess of Portland on the specially-prepared lawn beneath the walls of Nottingham Castle on Castle Road - where it still remains, as the only City-based landmark providing a tangible link for visitors to see relating to Nottingham’s internationally known folk hero. The People’s champion of justice and freedom  A principled defender of the poor and the down-trodden.

After the ceremony a banquet was held in the Council House to celebrate the occasion, where guests attended a medieval themed luncheon which included Venison Chasseur on the menu, preceded by a fish course of Fillet of Sole Robin Hood.

The benefactor of the statue, Philip E.F. Clay had originally wished to remain anonymous but when the time came for the unveiling he had been talked out of his generosity by a grateful City Council and he was honoured at the ceremony by local dignitaries.

From the moment it was unveiled the impressive figure became the definitive image of Robin Hood which has been copied and adapted thousands of times and often used by local companies to promote their goods and services. The image also became a featured “trademark” for Nottingham that over the decades has helped promote the city around the world, making it a particularly successful ambassador in regional and global tourism.

Inevitably the Robin Hood Statue has become an iconic image for Nottingham, frequently representing the city in the international media and it has graced the front pages and covers of newspapers and magazines around the world - all giving valuable, free, high profile publicity for the city. The statue has also featured in many international television and film documentaries and appeared on BBC TV’s “The One Show”.

Numerous celebrities have been photographed alongside the Robin Hood Statue including, Brian Clough, Torvill and Dean, Jonathan Ross, Cilla Black, Pudsey Bear, Brian Blessed and Wallace and Gromit. It is the perfect location for the millions of souvenir photographs taken by visitors and as one leading travel writer remarked, “Be sure to have your photo taken next to the Robin Hood Statue at Nottingham Castle. You know you want to….”

The Statue often became a target for souvenir hunters and in the Fifties and Sixties replacement arrows were regularly costing the City Council £55 a time from the South Lambert foundry that provided them. Ironically, it was a former Sheriff of Nottingham, Alderman Frank Dennett, who came to Robin’s aid and enlisted the help of the engineers at the Royal Ordnance Factory. They made an arrow from a tough metal used for the manufacture of tank gun barrels and secured it to the statue with a special welding process, to help deter the vandals.

During its lifetime, the Statue has been involved in various diverse events, including, in 1986, being photographed with a nude model in “Penthouse”, a glossy magazine for men, which was also featured in a television documentary. It was once boarded-up to protect it from being damaged during a right wing English Defence League demonstration and was the location for a Guinness World Record attempt sponsored by Nottingham Building Society, which set the record for the most people gathered in one place dressed as Robin Hood. The statue has been “yarn bombed”, garlanded with flowers and frequently subjected to wearing all kinds of sporting and educational scarves, together with assorted banners, headgear and the inevitable Red Nose to support Comic Relief!

In 2015, a fibreglass, life-size copy was made of the Robin Hood Statue and given to Nottingham’s sister city, Ningbo in China in return for Nottingham having been presented with a pair of Chinese Guardian Lions when the University of Nottingham became the first foreign university to establish an independent campus in China, which opened to students in 2004. The replica Statue was produced by Richard Arm, flexural composites research fellow at Nottingham Trent University, who said that the moulding process would also clean the original statue and leave it looking as it did when it was first unveiled.

A smaller one-dimensional, gold coloured fibreglass model of the Statue had previously been made as part of the original fascia of the City Council’s Tourism and Information Office, when it moved into new premises in Wheeler Gate, just off the Old Market Square. However, in a violent windstorm one night it was ripped from the frontage and found blowing around near the entrance to the Broad Marsh Centre. The feature was never replaced and appeared on occasional exhibition stands and displays and languished in various Council storerooms until, in 1997, the Queen visited Nottingham to mark the City’s Centenary Year. In conjunction with BBC Radio Nottingham, one of the commemorative projects the City staged was to photograph 100 Nottingham citizens, from 1 – 100, in an exclusive group picture with Her Majesty taken on a specially constructed set in the Council House Ballroom and the gold fibreglass image of the Robin Hood Statue was hung on the Minstrel Gallery to perfectly balance the composition of the photograph.

When the Statue celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2002, the benefactor’s daughter, Susan Clay (now Mrs Neal) was a guest of the then Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Ali Asghar and  alongside the Statue, in the shadow of the Castle Rock, cut a cake made specially by the Catering Faculty of Clarendon College. Recalling the original unveiling, Mrs Neal, the last surviving member of the Clay family, said “Although I was only a young girl at the time, I remember thinking how marvellous it was that my father was giving something so splendid to Nottingham. I remember all the children and the music, it was a great event.

A poem about the Robin Hood Statue “Standing Up For Nottingham” was specially written by the World Wide Robin Hood Society to mark its 50th Anniversary. Now the poem is reproduced below and up-dated to mark the current 70th Anniversary celebration.


They say I stand for justice, a champion of the poor,

Well, I’ve stood here now for 70 years and God my feet are sore!

Pigeons perch upon my head, pecking at my nose,

Tourists clamber round my legs, treading on my toes.

I’m hardly dressed for the weather, wearing just tunic and hose

And it’s draughty round my sensitive bits when it blows up Castle Road.

They say I’m world famous. I’ve been photographed a lot.

My picture and legend has been round the globe, yet I’ve never left this spot!

My legs are aching, my back is breaking yet there’s nothing I can do

But stand tall and stout and tough it out, just seeing each day through.

Though any pain and suffering is more than made worthwhile

When I catch a glimpse of wonder in a child’s wide-eyed smile.

“Hey look, it’s a statue of Robin Hood! “- shout the kids in excited voice.

Then I’m proud to stand up for Nottingham and let’s face it I haven’t much choice!

(Copyright: 2022 - World Wide Robin Hood Society / Robert White)