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How place and location names keep the Robin Hood  legend alive!

It was veteran Nottingham Post journalist, Emrys Bryson, who astutely remarked that “whenever Robin Hood’s name gets a mention, Nottingham gets a hefty plug - absolutely free!” - and one of the most significant factors that helps to continually keep the legend alive is the wide-spread number of locations and places that incorporate a reference to the outlaw in their name. The extent to which they are dotted all around the globe also indicates just how far the popularity of the Robin Hood tales has spread.

 We probably take for granted the local names that reflect the legend, such as Robin Hood Chase in St Ann’s; Friar Lane and Maid Marian Way in the City Centre and Robin Hood Way in the Meadows. There’s also a Robin Hood Street and a Robin Hood Terrace and outside the city there’s a Robin Hood Avenue in Edwinstowe; Robin Hood Close in Eastwood; Robin Hood Drive in Hucknall; Robin Hood’s Hills at both Oxton and Mansfield and three Robin Hood Roads in Arnold; Annesley Woodhouse and Blidworth respectively!

To further confuse the issue, there is of course Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster; Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast; a Robin Hood hamlet just off the M6, north of Wigan; another on the M1 near Junction 42 and a Robin Hood End in Essex. There’s even a Robin Hood Crematorium in Solihull, Warwickshire – although we know that is unlikely to be where he ended his life! Or do we? – because although the traditional tales and ballads tend to acknowledge the one at Kirklees Priory as being the most likely, there are three other sites that claim to be the outlaw’s final resting place at Holbeck in North Nottinghamshire; Crosby Ravensworth in Westmorland and one in Loxley churchyard in Warwickshire!

There’s also Robin Hood Gardens in Tower Hamlets, London – which are not actually “gardens” at all but a 1960’s style block of flats that were described as homes spread across “streets in the sky”. Characterised by broad aerial walkways in long concrete blocks, eminent architect Richard Rogers, is currently campaigning with the construction industry to get Robin Hood Gardens listed, citing the scheme as “the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain”.

However, although Nottinghamshire claims to be the outlaw’s home county, Yorkshire actually has over twice as many place names and locations connected with the Robin Hood legend (28)and even Derbyshire has only two less than Notts!

But it’s across the Atlantic where the competition really hots-up and in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, there’s a whole estate of Robin Hood related names including King Richard Drive; Scarlett Hill Road and Lincoln Green Place. While down in Alabama, on the Archers Bend estate there’s a Nottingham Drive; a Loxley Lane and a Sherwood Place etc.

In fact, it seems that in America, to have a Robin Hood associated postal address is considered so desirable that it even resulted in the US Post Office putting its foot down when Nottingham Properties of Baltimore, Maryland tried to get the streets of its new town named after characters and places in the Robin Hood legend. They pointed out that it would cause a great deal of confusion because Baltimore already had a Sherwood Forest community with similar names!

On the other side of the world, down in Logan City, in Queensland, Australia, there is a place called Forestdale, which was created over twenty years ago and specifically named after and inspired by the Sherwood Forest legend. All the road names have a Robin Hood connection, including Nottingham Court; Alanadale Court; Lionheart Street; Abbots Place etc. and there’s even a Greenwood Lake!

All that we are talking about in this article are just the straight forward Robin Hood-related postal addresses but if you also include the hundreds of geographical locations (such as Robin Hood’s Bog in Northumberland; Robin Hood’s Leap at Chatsworth House; Robin Hood’s Howl at Kirbymoorside and Robin Hood’s Barrow in Bournemouth etc.) along with the vast list of business and commercial companies, public houses, hotels and restaurants etc. that use the name, then you start to realise the sheer scale and impact of the Robin Hood “brand” and why everyone wants a piece of the action. The very name Robin Hood is instantly recognisable all around the world, a factor that is the essential, “holy grail” of any marketing and publicity campaign and the famous outlaw’s name also brings with it a sense of trust and justice – two key principles at the very heart of the Robin Hood legend. That’s why the extensive research previously carried out with the business and commercial sector, in the UK and overseas, always strongly reflected the belief that in the eyes of the general public, the Robin Hood name stands for a fair and just deal. On the basis of the legend’s wide popularity, companies hoped that by incorporating a Robin Hood reference into their name, by association, such principles might help establish their business to also be seen as credible and trustworthy!

In truth, the examples mentioned here probably barely “scratch the surface” of the actual number of places scattered throughout the UK and around the globe that acknowledge England’s most famous outlaw hero with a reference to the legend in their name. That’s why, in September, the World Wide Robin Hood Society will be launching its “Find Robin Hood!” initiative, to encourage people to let the Society know when they come across any place or establishment etc. that has a name connected to characters and places in the traditional Sherwood Forest tales. Hopefully, the resulting additional data will help establish the true extent and impact of the Robin Hood legend and just how far around the globe the popular story has travelled!

Click here to view the Robin Hood alongside the Thames! article.