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Travel Blog: It’s All About the History

Hello, collegiettes™! As I’ve spent six weeks now in Oxford, I have consistently been awestruck by the level of history integrated in day to day life, as well as the history that is preserved in museums and special exhibitions. For example, the oldest coffee house in England, established in 1650, is located in Oxford and still operates as a high end coffee house. The youth of America isn’t apparent while living there, but when I walk past churches and universities that are over 800 years old, the concept just blows my mind.

As a history minor, I do have the tendency to be interested in things like this. One tour that I loved taking was this past weekend to Sherwood Forest and Nottingham. Sherwood Forest is the oldest forest in England, and is home to the Major Oak. The Major Oak is hypothesized to be the oldest tree in the UK, as well as the largest, with a circumference of 33 feet. The government was preserved Major Oak and Sherwood Forest in general because it is rumored to be the home of notorious Robin Hood.

The Robin Hood legend is just that, a legend. Lyrical ballads (a type of poem) have been written about the mysterious man who stole from the rich to give to the poor for centuries. He crops up throughout history under different names: Robin Hood of Loxley, Robin Hood of York, even Roger Godberd under disguise as Robin Hood. Either way, Robin Hood is rumored to have lived during the 12th or 13th century – that’s 1100 to 1200! Legend has it that Robin Hood became an outlaw, some historians say because he killed his stepfather, others because he was a debtor. As an outlaw, he hid in Sherwood Forest, and made Major Oak into his home for him and his merry men.  Stories about Robin Hood have been written as early as the 1400’s, and as recently as the popular Disney adaptation. Whether fact or fiction, the legend is full of mystery and intrigue for sure.

In the same county as Sherwood Forest, lies Nottingham. The site of Nottingham Castle, now a manor house, provides an equally thrilling, albeit more truthful version of history. Underneath the site of Nottingham Castle are over 500 manmade sandstone caves. The caves themselves date back to 950 AD, with more being developed in the 300 years afterwards. The caves have been used for a variety of reasons, attacks to storm the castle, a shelter from invaders and air raids during World War II, rented out as homes to the poor, and used as tanneries and breweries.

My favorite story told by Friar Tuck during the hour long cave tour, was that of Mortimer’s Hole. Queen Isabella was married to King Edward II in the early 1300’s. Isabella was only 12 years old. Mortimer, a nobleman, strongly opposed the King and was eventually imprisoned in the Tower of London. It was there that him and Isabella, who visited him daily, fell in love. They planned Mortimer’s escape. He ran off to France to build up an army; after a few years he returned, murdered King Edward II and married Queen Isabella. Prince Edward III was crowned King, to limit the number of protests. Edward III knew that his life was at risk, as Mortimer would not need to keep him around forever. So while Mortimer and Queen Isabella were staying at Nottingham Castle, a group of King Edward III’s closest men used the labyrinth of secret caves to enter the castle, capture Mortimer and the Queen. The Queen lived out her life under house arrest, while Mortimer was hanged for public amusement.

England is full of vibrant history, some more factual than others, but all equally thrilling.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tales!



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I am a sophomore Elementary Education major at USF! My ultimate goal is to teach abroad after I graduate and make quality education more accessible. Otherwise, I am a vegetarian, beginner yogi, curly haired girl who enjoys laughing at her own jokes.
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