Stepping off the train in Nottingham, the literary fan might feel a sudden paralysis of choice Words are everywhere here. The slabs of its famous square ring with poems, stories and lyrics; its busy streets and narrow alleys bustle with chatter and song. Where to start? Well, not far, as it happens. Step out of the train station and you’ll find a wonderful piece of public art on station street, as lines of poetry are projected on a wall as part of the Line of Light project.
A walk up to the Market Square takes you to a multitude of places to see, including two flagship bookshops- comic book nirvana Page 45 and the popular alternative indie Five Leaves. A visit to Speakers Corner is a must, to see where much of Nottingham’s rebel roar was born. Walk up to the beautiful Lace Market via journal shop Ideas on Paper, and the JM Barrie plaque, and hop on a tram (many are named after writers, past and present) to The Arboretum, where the aforementioned creator of Peter Pan dreamt up the idea of Neverland.
When dusk arrives, get back on a tram to town, close to Nottingham Trent University’s Arkwright building where DH Lawrence studied. In the city centre, check out Rough Trade, Jam Café, Wired, Nottingham Writer’s Studio, A Room With a Brew, Lee Rosies and many more for an incomparable evening of verse and beer.
“Lord Byron’s old digs are magnificently grand, with sprawling gardens. Make sure you take a guide: there are gems such as the grave of Byron’s dog, Boatswain, with an elegy by the Mad, Bad and Dangerous one carved upon it. ”
If your head isn’t too sore the following day – we don’t advise replicating the excesses of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night, Sunday Morning – then a bus up to Newstead Abbey is a must. Lord Byron’s old digs are magnificently grand, with sprawling gardens. Make sure you take a guide: there are gems such as the grave of Byron’s dog, Boatswain, with an elegy by the Mad, Bad and Dangerous one carved upon it.
A short trip to the market town of Hucknall will take you to Byron’s own resting place, in a crypt below Mary Magdalene church which he shares with his daughter, the genius mathematician Ada Lovelace. The church has a permanent Byron exhibition, not to be missed.
Return to Nottingham and walk up to the Castle, passing Byron’s city centre house on St James Street (a plaque marks it out), and perhaps touring the 200-year old Bromley House Library. On the outskirts of the Castle’s premises is a statue to the legendary Robin Hood, the original fictional rebel. Then rest your feet in Nottingham’s Playhouse, a theatre that has launched the careers of many great playwrights, actors and directors.
Start your last day in the city with a scenic trip to Eastwood via bus, the coalfield village where D.H Lawrence spent his childhood. If you fancy a Lawrence-themed treasure hunt, follow the Blue Line to see the landmarks of the writer’s life. Then take a peek into his upbringing with a look around the Birthplace Museum.
You’ll be peckish now, so head back to the city and drop into Lawrence’s favourite city pub, The Peacock. Located between AC Milan founder Herbert Kilpin’s House and the old Victoria Station clock tower. Once sated, you’ll stroll back to the station, perhaps via St Barnabus Cathedral, where Graham Greene converted to Catholicism during his year-long stay in the city. As you depart Nottingham, hopefully filled with literary treasures and keen to return take a moment to relax your mind with a book by one of the many Nottingham authors past and present. Go on, you’ve earned it. We’ll see you soon.
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