1751 - Deering, Charles - Nottinghamia Vetus et Nova

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Date 1751
Author Deering, Charles
Title Nottinghamia Vetus et Nova or an Historical Account of the Ancient and Present State of the Town of Nottingham
Mentions Robin Hood's Well [Nottingham]
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The site of Robin Hood's Well.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-10-16. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-17.


The next thing to be considered are the Conveniencies, Nature and Art has furnished this Town with, for Exercise, which is as necessary for the Preservation of Health, as Food is for the Support of Life, it being impossible for a Person long to enjoy an uninterrupted State of Health, if the Exercise he takes does not in a great Measure counterballance his Way of living, I mean his eating and drinking: And it is observable that fewer People who have where-withal, eat to live, than live to eat. Persons therefore whose Birth and Fortune have exempted them from the busy part of Life, or whose Profession or Trade obliges them to sit much, require some other means to promote a due Circulation of the Juices, and thereby the necessary Secretions and Excretions, requisite to preserve the Body in Health and Vigour; the principal of which are Walking and Riding: For this purpose there are several pleasant Ways; as a Walk to Colwick-Spring, a Mile from Nottingham; by the Trent-side toward Beeston Meadows, where on the right there is a Prospect of Wollaton-Hall, and on the left the Eye is feasted with the gay view of Clifton Hills; to St. Anne's Well, about a Mile from Home, the Walk to which is pleasant, The Refreshment agreeable, and the Usage obliging and reasonable; here in the Summer Season you may either be entertained with a Concert of Areal Musicians in Nottingham Coppices, or on Mondays and Wednesdays join in Company with those who use the Exercise of Bowling.

[p. 73:] Near this Well [...] which is frequented by many Persons as a cold Bath, and reckoned the 2d. coldest in England, there stood anciently a Chappel dedicated to St. Anne, whence the Well obtained the Name it bears, tho' before this Chappel was built, it was known by the Name of Robin Hood's Well, by some called so to this day. The People who keep the Green and Public House to promote a Holy-day Trade, shew an old wickered Chair, which they call Robin Hood's Chair, a Bow, and an old Cap, both these they affirm to have been this famous Robber's Property; [...] this little Artifice takes so well with the People in low-Life, that at Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, it procures them a great deal of Business, for at those Times great Numbers of young Men bring their Sweethearts to this Well, and give them a Treat, and the Girls think themselves ill-used, if they have not been saluted by their Lovers in Robin Hood's Chair.

Of the Chappel I find no Account; but that there has been one in this Place is visible, for the East Wall of that quondam Chappel supports the East side of the House, which is built on the Spot where that Place of Worship stood. In the Room of the Altar is now a great Fire-place, over which was found upon a Stone the Date of the building of the Chappel, viz. 1409, which whilst legible one Mr. Ellis a Watchmaker took down into his Pocket-Book, and communicated to me; by this it appears that it was built in the Reign of King Henry IV. 335 Years ago, and who knows whether it might not be founded by that King, who resided about that Time at Nottingham; it did not stand much above 200 Years, for my oft mentioned Anonymous Author does not remember any of the Ruins of the Chappel, who wrote his Account in 1641, which however he might plainly have seen, had he taken Notice of the East Wall of Stone, when all the rest of the present House is a Brick Building.

ST. Anne's Well was about a hundred Years ago, a very famous Place of Resort, concerning which take the above Author's Account in his own words.

AT the Well there is a Dwelling House serving as an Habitation for the Woodward of those Woods, being an Officer of the Mayor. This House is likewise a Victualling House, having adjoining to it fair Summer-Houses, Bowers or Arbours covered by the plashing and interweaving of Oak-Boughs for Shade, in which are Tables of large Oak Planks, and are seated about with Banks of Earth, fleightered and covered with green Sods, like green Carsie Cushions. There is also a Building containing two fair Rooms, an upper and a lower, serving for such as repair thither to retire in Case of Rain or bad Weather. Thither do the Townsmen resort [...] by an ancient Custom beyond Memory.

THIS Well is all Summer long much frequented, and there are but few fair Days between March and October, in which some Company or other of the Town, such as use to Consort [sic] there, use not to fetch a walk to this Well, either to dine or sup, or both, some sending their provision to be dressed, others bespeaking what they will have, and when any of the Town have their Friends come to them, they have given them no welcome, unless they entertain them at this Well. Besides [p. 74:] there are many other Meetings of Gentlemen, both from the Town and the Country, making Choice of this Place rather than the Town for their Rendezvous to recreate themselves at, by Reason of the sweetness and openness of the Air, where besides their Artificial, they have Natural Music without Charge; in the Spring by the Nightingale and in the Autumn by the Wood-Lark, a Bird whose Notes for Variety and sweetness are nothing inferiour to the Nightingale, and much in her Tones, which filled with the Voices of other Birds like inward parts in Song serve to double the melodious Harmony of those sweet warbling Trebles. Here are likewise many Venison Feasts, and such as have not the Hap to feed the Sense of Taste with the Flesh thereof when dead, may yet still fill their Sight with those Creatures living, [...] which all Summer long are picking up Weeds in the Corn-Fields and Closes, and in Winter and hard Weather, gathering Sallets in the Garden of such Houses as lie on the North-side of the Town.

AMONG other Meetings I may not omit one Royal and remarkable Assembly at this Place, whereof myself was an Eye Witness, which was that it pleased our late Sovereign king James, in his Return from Hunting in this Forest, to Honour this Well with his Royal Presence, ushered by that Noble Lord Gilbert Earl of Shrewsbury, and attended by many others of the Nobility, both of the Court and Country, where they drank the Woodward and his Barrels dry."[1]

Source notes

IRHB's brackets. Where the ellipses occur, the printed text has inline note sigla which refer to footnotes with cross-references to other chapters. In the long quotation from the anonymous 1641 source the printed book has a double quotation mark before each line as was then the custom. I have removed all quotation marks from this quotation within the quotation.

IRHB comments

It is hoped that the reader will forgive me for including several more paragraphs than that in which the Robin Hood-related keywords occur. Despite the digressions it all in one way or another relates to the locality known variously as Robin Hood's Well and St Ann's Well except, arguably, the first paragraph which I could not resist including because it is – to use a 19th century expression – exceedingly curious. The writer, who was so concerned about the "due circulation of the juices", was an M.D.[2] I have not been able to establish the meaning of the term "fleightered" which occurs in the first paragraph of the quotation from the anonymous 1641 source. It is possible that the first letter is not and "f" but a long "s", but the OED has only one entry for "sleightered" = "butchered", which makes no sense in this context.




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