Robin Hood's Tomb

As we are in the season for spooky stories and tales of eerie events, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a mysterious account by Thomas Gent (1693-1778) about Robin Hood’s tomb.

Born in Ireland of English parents, Thomas Gent was a member of the Stationer's Company and worked with Samuel Richardson in London before setting up as a printer at York in 1724. From his print shop in York, Thomas Gent produced many editions of Robin Hood Garlands. This story however, appeared in Gent’s 1730 work, ‘Ancient and Modern History of the famous City of York,’ and was also published in Joseph Ritson’s collection on Robin Hood in 1832.

Gent had been told that:

“[Robin Hood’s] tombstone, having his effigy there on was ordered not many years ago, by a certain knight, to be placed as a hearth-stone in his great hall. When it was laid over-night, the next morning it was ‘surprisingly’ removed [on or to] one side; and so three times it was laid and as successively turned aside. The knight, thinking he had done wrong to have bought it thither ordered it should be drawn back again; which was performed by a pair of oxen and four horses, when twice the number could scarcely do it before.”

(Joseph Ritson Robin Hood page xxxix)

Robin Hood’s grave at Kirklees has been the subject of much controversy. The drawing of the gravestone above was made in 1665 and only a small portion of the stone now remains. It is said that a chip of Robin’s tombstone was a cure for toothache and when the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway was being constructed in the early 19th century, the navvies placed pieces of it under their pillows to allay the pain!

For more information on Robin Hood's death and Kirklees, please click here.

Peter Finch, Walt Disney and Errol Flynn

Laurence has recently returned from a trip to the United States of America, touring film locations and some of the Hollywood studios. While he was there he also visited some of the cemeteries, Forest Lawn, Glendale and also the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery where Peter Finch is interred. Above is a picture of Laurence taken at the last resting place of whom he describes as the screen’s greatest Sheriff of Nottingham, and I agree with him.

He has also very kindly sent in some other interesting pictures that will interest regular blog readers. At the Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Walt Disney’s ashes are scattered in a corner garden to the left of the Freedom Mausoleum entrance. The great man sadly died of cancer aged 65 in 1966.

Walt Disney's Memorial

Just around the corner under a little brown statue is buried probably the most famous Robin Hood of them all, Errol Flynn who died aged 50 of a heart attack in 1959. I was stunned to read that Flynn lay in a unmarked grave until twenty years later. It is rumoured that he was buried with six bottles of whisky, placed there by his drinking buddies.

Picture Strip 39 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

This is part 39 and we are sadly comming to the end of Laurence’s excellent picture strip of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

If you want to learn more about the making of this wonderful film or the legend that inspired it, please click on the relevant subjects in the sidebar.

Please click here to see previous pages of Laurence's picture strip.

Parliament Oak

Although I have visited Sherwood Forest many times, I have never seen the Parliament Oak. So I am very grateful to Albie, who is lucky enough to live near Sherwood, for once again sending in some very interesting information and wonderful pictures of the legendary tree.

It was during his stay at Clipstone that King John (1166-1216), after hearing the news of a Welsh revolt, is said to have summoned a council of barons under the branches of this ancient oak in the summer of 1212. The boundary of Clipstone Park was formerly at this tree, which stood in the park fence. Seventy eight years later Edward I (Longshanks) is also said to have held Parliament here.

Albie says:
“The tree originally had two trunks but due to age damage and neglect one is much reduced in size. It is believed to be 1200 years old which make it the oldest tree we know of in Sherwood, if true. It once formed part of the pale (fence) that enclosed the deer park of Clipstone - this fence stretched nearly eight miles and was the sole reserve for the King's to hunt in. The tree marked the Hell Gate entrance of the park, which was in existence from 1180 until 1830.
Whilst staying at the Hunting Palace at Clipstone in 1212 King John was warned of a Welsh uprising. The legend is he gathered his nobles at the oak to 'have parley' with them about the situation. This was effectively a session of Parliament hence the association with the name. From here John returned to Nottingham where he was holding the young Welsh hostages in the castle. He then hung them one by one from the castle walls as a lesson to the Welsh rebels (whose sons they were). It is said their ghostly screams can still be heard at night near the castle walls.

Another local tradition states that the Ancient Barons met and brought to King John the terms which laid the foundation of the Great Charter (Magna Carta)' which was signed at Runnymede in 1215.
In Edward I’s reign another Parliament was said to have been held under the oak in 1290. The king was en route to Scotland. This was a large parliament held on St Michael's Day with nearly 300 petitions and pleas being heard. There has to be some doubt whether this session was held under the trees but the stories have persisted down the centuries that it did.
The tree survived the onslaught of the English Civil War (1642 -46) when most of the ancient oaks were felled for timber to build the Royal Navy up. It was largely neglected from then until a few years ago when its survival was looking bleak. Work was carried to ensure the tree will thrive and it is now in the care of the Sherwood Forest Trust based in Edwinstowe. A small enclosure helps protect the tree and a couple of parking bays nearby allow access as it stands alongside the busy A6075 road between Mansfield Woodhouse and Edwinstowe. At the rear of the tree is an excellent view across the Maun Valley across what was originally the Clipstone Deer Park. When in its heyday The Hunting Palace was probably visible from here.”


A Letter from Richard Todd

Mike has very kindly sent in a letter he received from the late actor Richard Todd (1919-2009).

He says:

"I thought you might like to see this thank you letter I got from Richard Todd. As you will see he was very good to reply in a personal way. The card I sent was the original poster [Robin Hood], I added birthday wishes etc which made it a bit special."

I am sure you will all agree that this is yet another example of the genuine warmth and kindness of the great man.

Picture Strip 38 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

This is part 38 and we are now reaching the climax of Laurence’s fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

If you want to learn more about the making of this wonderful film or the legend that inspired it, please click on the relevant subjects in the sidebar.

Please click here to see previous pages of Laurence's picture strip.

Elspeth Gill

We have made some amazing discoveries on this site over the last four years and this is certainly one of the best. Neil has recently managed to contact the daughter of Alex Bryce (1905-1961), the Second Unit Director on Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952). Elspeth Gill has very kindly sent Neil some unique photographs of her visit on set during the making of Disney’s live-action motion picture at Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire.

Elspeth’s father was in charge of the Second Unit, which specialised in all the action shots and fight scenes of this wonderful Disney movie. These included the ambush of the royal coach, the rescue of Scathelok in the market square and Robin’s various battles with the Sheriff. She was about sixteen years old at the time and remembers the filming very well.
In Elspeth’s first photograph we can see Richard Todd (Robin Hood), behind the scenes giving her archery lessons and in the second, she is in full costume and riding one of the horses.
I would like to thank Elspeth for sharing with us these wonderful photographs and Neil for sending them to me. Perhaps she can share some more of her magical memories with us all in the future.