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Fountain Dale (Blidworth)

Locality
Coordinates 53.105, -1.1541666666667
Adm. div. Nottinghamshire
Vicinity 2.2 km NNW of Ravenshead
Type Area
Interest Literary locale
Status Extant
First Record 1826
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Fountain Dale.
Fountain Dale / UK Wanderer.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-10-08. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-16.

The B-version of Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar, from a broadside ballad dated c. 1660, refers to the friar's place of residence as both "Fountains Abby" and "Fountains Dale".[1] According to Dobson & Taylor, since the early 19th century the Fountains Dale of the ballad has been identified with a wooded area – one of the few surviving vestiges of Sherwood Forest – north of Ravenshead and Blidworth. However, the name Fountain Dale is first found applied to this area on the Greenwood brothers' 1826 map of Nottinghamshire.[2] It was earlier known as Langton Lodge.[3] While it is of course possible that the name Fountain Dale as applied to the locality under discussion may have left no (as yet discovered) mark on the records during the period c. 1660-1825, it is perhaps just as likely that Langton was deliberately renamed in the early 19th century in an attempt to strengthen Nottinghamshire's claim to being the only true home of Robin Hood. Fountains Abbey is of course in Yorkshire, but with a Fountain Dale in Nottinghamshire the ownership of the story of Robin Hood's famous meeting with the curtal friar could be wrested from the northern neighbours. If this seems too fanciful, remember that this was a time when it was fashionable among the well-healed to have designer ruins built in their country parks. This of course leaves open the question what prompted the author of the ballad to invent the alternative name "Fountain Dale" for (the area round) Fountains Abbey. He would, in any case, not have been the first poet in literary history to invent a place-name.

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