NOTTINGHAM is one of the very flat midland counties in
the Trent Valley. The northern part of the county is a
continuation of the Plain of York; this is a good
corn-growing district, with hop-gardens in some parts,
as about East Ketford and Eneesall.
Low as the county is generally, it sinks still lower
near the rivers; and only by good draining are the
river-side lands saved from being waste marshes; the
farmers, however, manage to get, even in the most
marshy spots, capital grass crops, upon which many
cattle are fed; excellent cheese is made in the county.
The Car, quite in the north, between the Trent and its
tributary the Idle, is one of these marshy tracts. So
is the country about Newark, where the Trent bends
north, and is joined by the Devon; this is a very low,
flat district, and the rivers often overflow and flood
The south has some low moors, but the only part that
can be called hilly is the west, the prettiest part of
the county in every way. Through West Notts and
Yorkshire, as far north as Whitby, the great forest of
Sherwood once stretched, with its grassy glades, and
mighty oaks, and merrie men clad in forest green. Here
Robin Hood and his hundred merrie men, famous archers
every one, did what they thought was rough
justice—robbed the rich to help the poor. Those were
 lawless days: the king, the brave Coeur-de-Lion, was in
Palestine fighting in the Holy Wars, and his brother
John, who cared for nothing but his own pleasure, ruled
England in his stead; so the poor were oppressed, and
bad rich men had things their own way.
Robin Hood, who was really a nobleman born, but who
loved the free forest life better than lands or name,
did what he could to right these wrongs. He, however,
and Friar Tuck, Little John, and Maid Marion, and all
his foresters free, lived royally on the king's deer,
and helped themselves to all they wanted out of other
people's purses; so we cannot think they went to work
in the best way, or that they chose this way of life
altogether for the sake of helping the oppressed.
There are many fine old oaks here still which might
have sheltered Robin and his men, especially near
Worksop. No less than five dukes have parks near this
town; and there are many gentlemen's seats with fine
trees in West Nottinghamshire.
The great coal-field which reaches from Leeds to
Nottingham occupies part of the west of the county.
Greasley is the centre of a mining and iron district,
and there are ironworks at Mansfield and some other
II. STOCKINGS AND LACE
THE making of stockings and of lace are important
employments in the three midland counties,
Leicestershire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire. The
town of Nottingham is the centre of the trade, and all
 towns and villages in the south of the county are more
or less employed in it—Eadford, Basford, Stapleford,
Arnold, Bulwell, and as far north as Mansfield.
The stockinger can do his work in his own home just as
well as in a factory where many frames are engaged. He
works at a stocking-frame, making his whole stocking of
a single thread, just as a hand-knitter does; but
instead of working with four needles, he uses many, as
many as fifty needles to an inch if the stocking is
There are more stockingers in the trade than can be
properly paid for their work: it is a business easy to
learn; children and women can work the frames as well
as men; and there are so many ready to do the work,
that perhaps there is no trade at which people have to
labour for such long hours and for so little money.
The poor pay he got for his stocking work put it into
the head of a rather idle workman named Hammond to
invent a way of making lace on his stocking-frame. Up
to this time every tiny hole or mesh in lace and net
was made by handwork, the work of women who might be
seen with pillow and bobbins at their cottage doors.
Hammond examined the pillow lace on his wife's cap, and
at last did invent a frame, which succeeded so well
that the stocking weavers were able to make far cheaper
lace than the pillow-lace makers.
In the beginning of this century a Mr. Heathcote
invented a bobbin-net machine, which made, at a quick
rate, and for little money, net with a beautiful even
mesh, as perfect as any hand-worked lace made in
Great was the excitement caused by this invention:
everybody in Nottingham thought of nothing but ways
 of making lace. The earnings of the workpeople were
enormous; a man might easily earn 30s.
or even 40s. a
day at a lace frame.
But prices soon fell, and now the lace-makers are only
a little better paid than the stockingers.
III. THE TWO KINGS
"THE princely Trent, the north's imperious flood,"
appears to have a special regard for the county of
Notts. It enters from Derbyshire at the south-west
corner, flows, "crowned with many a dainty wood," past
"Nottingham's proud height, that brave exalted seat,"
the old feudal castle, with "large-spread meads upon
the other side, all flourishing in flowers." Still
between "large-spread meads" the river flows on to
Newark, past another stately castle. Then as if loth to
leave this favoured county, it takes a sudden bend
northwards, and enters Lincoln after its junction with
the Idle, quite at the north of Nottingham.
River vessels can make their way upon the Trent all
through Nottinghamshire, indeed as far as Burton in
Stafford; and perhaps it is to the Trent that the
county owed its importance in days when there were no
railways. Certain it is that many interesting events
occurred at the two castles of Nottingham and Newark.
Not always pleasant events; these two castles are
associated with two kings who went to war with their
own people. One of these was John, whose barons rose
against him because he broke the Great Charter they had
compelled him to sign. The king had hired
 foreign soldiers, who held Newark Castle. The barons
besieged it, and John marched down from Lincoln in
haste to relieve his friends. Then follows the story of
how he lost the Crown jewels in the Wash, and fretted
himself into a fever, and ate greedily while the fever
was on him, and reached Newark Castle in time to die.
The second king, Charles I, though a far better man,
plunged his country into a civil war of an even worse
kind, for Englishmen fought against Englishmen, often
brother against brother and son against father.
On the evening of a very stormy and tempestuous day he
raised the Boyal Standard at Nottingham as a signal for
his friends to join him (1642). The standard was nearly
blown down by the stormy wind, and but few gathered
round the king at first; but this was the beginning of
a civil war which lasted four years, and in which many
terrible battles were fought up and down the country.
Many of his subjects cared more for the king than for
father or mother, wife or child; many who had never
seen him, nor been charmed by their prince's kind and
gracious manner, were ready to give up lands and money,
their dearest friends, their lives for his sake; and
brave men, like the old lord of Basing House, brave
women too, like the Lady Banks of Corfe Castle, did
deeds of noble daring for the king.
But the efforts of his friends were vain; the county of
Nottingham saw the close of the war as it had seen its
commencement. An army of Scots had come into England to
help the Parliament party; they were laying siege to
Newark Castle, which was held by the king's friends.
Charles saw that things were going against him, thought
the Scots would be true, and gave himself into their
hands. They retired from
 Newark with their prize; and in the end they gave him
up to the army of the Parliament. Two or three years
were spent in trying to settle matters, and at last a
grievous thing was done—the king was beheaded by his
own people (1649).
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