Several weeks ago we visited Nottingham, a town in the midlands of England which is associated with the legends of Robin Hood. One of our ancestors, Joseph Woodward, came from Nottingham and was involved in the Nottingham reform bill riots of 1831.
The first place we saw in Nottingham was Nottingham castle. The history of this castle dates back to the reign of William I. He ordered a wooden fort to be built on castle rock, a tall, natural rock formation. Nottingham castle was changed in many ways over the centuries until it became the elaborate Georgian palace it is today. However, the Georgian palace was almost entirely destroyed in 1831 when reform bill rioters burnt Nottingham Castle and turned it into a scorched, empty, shell. It remained a ruin until 1875 when it was repaired, and turned into one of the first museums outside London.
The highlight of Nottingham castle was for me, definitely the cave tour. It was a tour through the medieval man made caves that wind through castle rock and their history.
After Nottingham castle we visited the old Nottingham jail, now a museum, the gaol where Joseph Woodward, one of our ancestors was tried for burning a hovel down during the Nottingham riots.
In the gaol, we saw the court room where Joseph Woodward was tried, many of the cells including the pits, horrible cruel dark cells cut out of the rock that were so horrible they were outlawed by the Victorians, dark cells, cells that were almost pitch black, even when the door was open, "improved" cells an improvement to the pits but cold, dark and horrible, that like the pits, had no toilets so it all went on the floor, a medieval cell and an Oubliette, basically a pit dug into the ground where victims were just dropped in and left to die.