Alfred Noyes: Sherwood

O.K. Time for a bit of self indulgence! My Favourite Robin Hood painting by Edmund George Warren in 1858, with my favourite Robin Hood poem by Alfred Noyes (1880-1959) and my favourite Robin Hood film stars!


Sherwood in the twilight, is Robin Hood awake?
Grey and ghostly shadows are gliding through the brake,
Shadows of the dappled deer, dreaming of the morn,
Dreaming of a shadowy man that winds a shadowy horn.

Robin Hood is here again: all his merry thieves
Hear a ghostly bugle-note shivering through the leaves,
Calling as he used to call, faint and far away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

All the gnarled old thorn-trees are blossom-white for June.
All the elves that Marian knew were here beneath the moon –
Younger than the wild thyme, older than the trees,
Lob and Mab and Bramblescratch, on their unbridled bees.

Oaken-hearted England is waking as of old,
With eyes of blither hazel and hair of brighter gold:
For Robin Hood is here again beneath the bursting spray
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Love is in the greenwood building him a house
Of wild rose and hawthorn and honeysuckle boughs:
Love is in the greenwood, dawn is in the skies,
And Marian is waiting with her laughter-loving eyes.

Hark! The dazzled laverock climbs the golden steep!
Marian is waiting: is Robin Hood asleep?
Where the last dark arrow fell, the white scuts flash away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Oberon, Oberon, the hazel copses ring,
Time to hush the night-jar and let the throstle sing,
Time to let the blackbird lift a bonny head,
And wake Will Scarlett from his leafy forest bed.

Friar Tuck and Little John are riding down together
With quarter-staff and drinking-can and grey goose feather.
The dead are coming back again; the years are rolled away
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Softly over Sherwood the south wind blows.
All the heart of England hid in every rose
Hears across the greenwood the sunny whisper leap,
Sherwood in the red dawn, is Robin Hood asleep?

Hark, the voice of England wakes him as of old
And, shattering the silence with a cry of brighter gold,
Bugles in the greenwood echo from the steep,
Sherwood in the red dawn, is Robin Hood asleep?

Where the deer are gliding, down the shadowy glen,
All across the glades of fern he calls his merry men –
Doublets of the Lincoln green glancing through the may
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day –

Calls them and they answer: from aisles of oak and ash
Rings the Follow! Follow! and the boughs begin to crash,
The ferns begin to flutter and the flowers begin to fly,
And through the crimson dawning the robber band goes by.

Robin! Robin! Robin! All his merry thieves
Answer as the bugle-note shivers through the leaves,
Calling as he used to call, faint and far away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Your Review

The recent article was a review in the New York Times of the movie in 1952.

What I would like is a review of this Blog. Up until today there have been 260 visits from people all over the world. So what do you think of this Blog? Have you ever seen the movie? Would you like to see the DVD on worldwide release? Do you like reading the historical facts?

Please let me know in the comment section below.

New York Times Review

New York Times, June 27, 1952

"In presenting his latest picture package at the Criterion—a trio including the feature, The Story of Robin Hood ; the newest entry in the True-Life Adventure series, "Water Birds," and the cartoon short, "The Little House"—Walt Disney is again proving that his organization can provide the variety that is the spice of entertainment. Equally important is the fact that this film tryptych is likely to meet with the tastes of a variety of audiences. "Robin Hood" may not have the adult approach or credibility of "Water Birds," or the youthful charm of "The Little House," but it is an expert rendition of an ancient legend that is as pretty as its Technical hues and as lively as a sturdy Western.

Appropriately enough, the producer thought enough of this centuries-old saga to film it in England, its obvious locale, and with a British cast. His principals, from Plantagenet royalty to outlaw yeomanry, speak dialogue which does not grate on the ear. And, the action—the courtly speeches and romance are kept to a sensible minimum—is robust and fairly continuous.

The tale, for those who have never been to the movies or haven't heard it before, is still as true to form as Robin's fabulous archery. England, with Richard the Lion Heart held captive in Austria and his brother, the treacherous Prince John, mulcting the Midlands, is hardly a merry area. So, Robin again is ensconced in Sherwood Forest with his bold band, robbing "the rich to aid the poor."

This, of course, brings him into constant contact with the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham and an occasional rendezvous with the Maid Marian, an ever-loving wench who can recognize a hero when she sees one. And, with the aid of such stalwarts as Little John and Friar Tuck, it is no time before Prince John's coffers are emptied to ransom Richard and Robin is rewarded with an Earldom and, naturally, the Maid Marian.

Richard Todd seems rather puny but is agile enough as the most feared long bowman of the greenwood. Joan Rice is pretty and mischievous as the dark-haired Maid Marian. And such veteran British character actors as James Hayter, James Robertson Justice, Peter Finch, Martita Hunt and Hubert Gregg contribute the proper adventurous and villainous assists as Friar Tuck, Little John, the Sheriff, the Queen Mother and Prince John, respectively. They all help to give a shining veneer to what could have been a dull story.

On the other hand, "Water Birds" is an old story in the finest tradition that does nothing to tarnish the reputation gained by the producer with such excellent predecessors as "Seal Island," "Beaver Valley" and "Nature's Half-Acre."

This time, more than a dozen cameramen, in cooperation with the National Audubon Society and the Denver Museum of Natural History, have trained their Technicolor sights on gannets, fairy terns, pelicans, coots, grebes, snowy egrets, flamingos, curlews and other water fowl to come up with a film document which again both educates and entertains. Especially edifying are such slow-motion shots as gannets plummeting from great heights into the waters below and a mating dance of the Western grebe which is as comic as a Chaplin fandango. And the integration of the musical background and the intelligent and humorous narration by Winston Hibler makes "Water Birds" a treat for both the eye and the ear."


Walt Disney's 'Story Of Robin Hood' was released in the United States of America on June 26th 1952.

Rupert Evans

Ex-Royal Marine Physical Training Instructor, Rupert Evans puts Peter Finch, as the Sheriff of Nottingham, through his paces. Evans was a member of ‘Mickey Wood’s Tough Guys’ and had been brought in to see that all the actors were trained in the use of swords and quarterstaffs, before using such weapons in Disney’s ‘Story of Robin Hood.’

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

Peter Finch

The Sheriff of Nottingham was played by Peter Finch, in one of his first major film roles. ‘Finchie’ was a protégé of Laurence Olivier and became a good friend of film producer Ken Annakin.

Born in South Kensington, London, on 28th September 1916, Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch was the natural son of Major Jock Campbell, a Highlander in the Black Watch and Alicia Ingle-Finch, during her marriage to George Ingle-Finch a notable mountaineer from New South Wales.

After his parents divorced in 1926 he went to live with his grandmother in Paris and later they moved to India. Aged ten he arrived in Sydney, Australia, where during the Depression he took on several dead end jobs, before working as a comedians stooge in vaudeville. In 1935 he made his stage acting debut, touring New South Wales with his travelling theatre company 'Mercury’ performing the classics in little theatres. A year later he debuted onscreen in ‘Dad and Dave Come to Town’.

‘Finchie’ served with the Australian First Army in the anti-tank battalion in the Middle East during WWII. But later on ‘civvie-street’ in 1948 his artistic ability gained his first film credit as assistant director and casting director for ‘Eureka Stockade’. He was now Australia’s top radio actor and his talents were soon noticed by Laurence Olivier who invited him to London to join the Old Vic and signed him to a personal contract. His impressive stage debut was alongside Edith Evans in ‘Daphne Laureda.’

At this time Finch started his long affair with Olivier’s wife, Vivian Leigh. But although personally humiliated, Olivier kept Finch under contract and his acting career continued to flourish. During his life he was also to have well-publicised affairs with Kay Kendall and Mai Zetterling.

Although he was now becoming an experienced performer, 'Finchie’ began suffering with severe stage fright (he also had a fear of flying). So much so, that he decided to put all his creative energy into acting on film and he made his Hollywood debut with ‘The Miniver Story’ and ‘The Wooden Horse’ in 1950.

In 1951 Finch took on the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham for Disney.

“Peter brought a freshness and a snide threat to the villainous character, without the histrionics of his predecessors in the role," said his friend and ‘Robin Hood’ producer Ken Annakin. “We became close friends and over the years I was sad to see how the strain of show business made Peter hit the bottle. He drank in order to cope with theatrical challenges he had never dreamed of in the outback or truly prepared for. But I don’t think he was ever as happy as his days in Denham, strutting around the stages as the Sheriff of Nottingham.”

As the Sheriff, ‘Finchie’ had to ride a horse, something, although he was brought up in Australia, he had never done. So the majority of riding shots were completed by a double. But for some of his spoken lines he had to film on horseback. These caused particular problems because, Peter’s horse, although supposedly a trained animal, seemed to have a dislike for actors and directors!

Every time ‘Finchie’ tried to mount his horse, it moved away from its mark, causing all sorts of problems for the film crew. This was an example, according to Annakin, of how amateurish the supply of trained horses and wranglers were for film companies in Britain, compared to the States.

Eventually the wrangler had to climb under the camera and hold down the horses hooves, while Peter Finch as the Sheriff spoke his lines. Even then as soon as ‘Finchie’ opened his mouth, the animal started snorting. This scene was used and appears in the early part of ‘Robin Hood’ when the Sheriff arrests William Scathelok for not paying his taxes.

As Peter Finch approached middle age his film career took off, with movies like the romantic comedy ‘Simon and Laura’ in 1965, the sombre war drama, ‘A Town like Alice’ in 1956, ‘Nuns Story’ in 1959 and back with Disney as Alan Breck Stewart in ‘Kidnapped’ in 1960.

Between 1956-71 he won five BAFTA awards, one of these for an exceptional performance in ‘The Trials of Oscar Wilde’ in 1960 . His debut as a film director, writer and producer came with his short, ‘Antonito’ and he went on to acclaimed roles in 'No Love for Johnnie’ in 1961, 'The Pumpkin Eater’ in 1964 and 'Far from the Madding Crowd’ in 1967. During his career he received two Oscar nominations, one for his portrayal as a gay doctor in ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ in 1971 and as the crazed television anchor man in ‘Network’ in 1976.

Sadly 64 year old Peter Finch collapsed and died in the lobby of the Beverley Wiltshire Hotel during a promotional campaign for ‘Network,’ on January 14th 1977. He was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in California. His part in ‘Network’ had received rave reviews and he was nominated for an Oscar. He went on to win the award, which was accepted by his widow, Eletha. ‘Finchie’ remains the only actor to have received a nomination and Oscar posthumously.

Peter Finch was married three times. He had a daughter by his first wife Tamara Tchinarova, two children by his second, Yolande Turner and one child by Eletha Finch.

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

11. Scathelok Is Arrested

Every day for the following weeks and months, the Sheriff’s men were kept busy collecting the new crippling taxes. These were dreadful times as Prince John tried to invent more ingenious ways of raising money.

William Scathelok was a poor farmer who had already paid one levy, when the Sheriff and his men were demanding more.

“I cannot pay the tax sir!” He cried falling to his knees. “I paid my Lord’s levy and if you take my cattle…….”

The Sheriff interrupted him coldly, “would you keep your cattle and go free of the tax?”

“Show me how, sire,” said Scathelok eagerly.

“Report has it,” said the Sheriff, “that you gave aid to the outlaw and know of his whereabouts.”

There was silence. Defiantly Scathelok rose to his feet and folded his arms, then he took two paces back. In a rage the Sheriff wheeled his horse around.

“Bring him along!” He commanded to his men.

As the Sheriff angrily put his spurs into his horse and galloped off he did not notice a Palmer (a pilgrim from the Holy Land) watching him from the shadows of the trees.


In Disney’s ‘Story of Robin Hood’, Robin’s father is shot in the back by Red Gill, one of the Sheriff’s foresters, who had been hiding up in the fork of a tree in the forest. After waiting in the bushes for a while, Robin soon discovers the tree in which his fathers assassin is concealed. Robin quickly let fly a shaft that thudded into Red Gill’s chest. The murderer swayed unsteadily then fell backwards crashing to the ground. Robin is in turn, outlawed by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Twice a year in early medieval times, the sheriff made a tour of his county, visiting each hundred and hearing presentments of criminal activities. If a person failed to attend their trial after four successive occasions, they were placed outside the protection of the law. They were ‘outlawed’ and this meant their property was confiscated and they were banished from society. The sheriff and his bailiffs had to track down and arrest suspects once they were appealed or indicted. The arrest process was not always easy because suspects had ample time to escape.

Before the Norman Conquest a person that fled the law was known as a caput lupinum a 'wolfs head’. Anyone had the right to hunt them down like a vicious animal. In the Great Roll of the Exchequer for 1195 there is an allowance by writ of ‘2 marks to Thomas de Preswude for bringing to Westminster the head of William de Elleford an outlaw.’

Roger of Hovedon informs us that after Richard ’s (1189-1199) Coronation his mother Queen Eleanor made a royal progress through England on behalf of the new king to proclaim that all persons in prison or outlawed for Forest Offences were to be freed at once.

“In as much as, in her own person, she had learnt by experience that confinement is distasteful to mankind and that it is most delightful to the spirits to be liberated there from.”

Therefore an outlaw ‘bore the wolf’s head’ and many thieves and political rebels that found themselves in this position took refuge in forests, such as Sherwood. Hidden in the dense greenwood, they were almost impossible to find.

At the Gloucester assizes in 1222 three hundred and thirty homicide cases were recorded. Fourteen men had been hung, but a hundred suspects were proclaimed outlaws because they could not be traced.

During the unrest in 1266 a royal letter describes conditions at this time:

“Through outlaws, robbers thieves and malefactors, mounted and on foot…..wandering by day and night, so many and great homicides and robberies were done that no one with a small company could pass through these parks without being taken and killed or spoiled of his goods……..and no religious or other person could pass without being taken and spoiled of his goods.”

A report given to a jury in 1287 gives an example of a‘ Robin Hood’ style incident in Sherwood Forest:

“John de Lascelles, then steward of the forest (Sherwood) , came to Salterford and there found Robert the Monk and Robert of Alfreton with bows and arrows; and he seized them and took them to Blidworth to hold them in custody until the morrow. And later that night twenty men armed with bows and arrows came to where the aforesaid men were under arrest, broke down the entrance to the buildings, sorely beat a certain Gilbert, page of the aforesaid John the Steward, who was keeping guard over the men, and released them from custody. Later all the aforesaid men attacked the chamber where the said John de Lascelles lay and broke the doors and windows of the said chamber. In which matter an enquiry was made by foresters, verderers, regarders and other officials of the forest.”

By the time the jury met, three of the accused had fled to Yorkshire, five could not be found. The rest, merely a handful were imprisoned.

There have been hundreds of Robert/Robin Hood’s discovered in records from the medieval period. Many have had brushes with the legal system. But none have been more tantalising than the 'Robert Hod, fugitive’, who failed to appear before the justices at the York assizes in 1225 and whose chattels, worth 32s.6d., were accordingly forfeit at the Michaelmas exchequer in 1226.

Many outlaws that were popular ballad heroes at this time faded from memory, Like Hereward, Fulk Fitzwarin, Gamelyn, Eustace the Monk and William Wallace. But these and many others had stories and ballads told to audiences by wandering entertainers. Their surviving tales contain remarkably similar themes and were the ‘soap operas’ of the day. Using disguise and trickery the outlaw of the minstrel’s ballad is always the champion of justice. An expert swordsman and hero of the oppressed.

So it becomes almost impossible to unravel fact from fiction.

Many ‘Robin Hood’ films and stories have the outlaw being pardoned by the king. This is not as fanciful as it seems. Only the monarch could reverse a sentence of outlawry and many were pardoned on condition that they served in the royal army.

From the Patent Rolls for 1326 we have a pardon “granted to Thomas Le Parker of Norwell for all his trespasses of Vert and Venison in Sherwood Forest upon condition that he go with king against invasion of his wages.”

Fulk Fitzwarin, a legendry outlaw during the reign of King John, was pardoned in 1203, along with thirty eight others who had been outlawed for being in his company.

During the reign of Edward III (1322-77) the laws on outlawry were repealed, allowing only a Sheriff the powers to put an outlaw to death. Outlawry originally had meant that the person was outside the law and could be killed outright if he was found, but by the fourteenth century most outlaws were arrested. The outlaw’s possessions were forfeited to the sovereign and his lands went to his lord.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343– 1400) compared a tyrant and an outlaw thus:

Right so betwixt a titeles tiraunt,

The same I say, ther is difference,

But, for the tiraunt is of greater might,

By force of meine for to sle down right,

And, for the outlawe hath but small meine,

And may not do so grete an harme as he,

Ne bring a contree to so grete meschiefe.

Geoffrey Chaucer was himself relieved of £20 near a certain ‘Fowle Oak’ in the Autumn of 1390 by highway robbers. He was ambushed while travelling to London on at least three separate occasions.

And John Selden (1584-1654) expressed the condition of an outlaw:

“ For she is a weyve whom no one will own, and it is equivalent to an outlaw, so far as penal consequences go. An outlaw and a weyve bear wolves heads which may be cut off by anyone with impunity, for deservedly they ought to perish with out law who would refuse to live according to law.”

The evidence shows that people from all ranks of society turned to crime, members of parliament, nobles, gentry, yeoman farmers. The chances of being caught were small, but in real life, living in the forest was hard and extremely uncomfortable. Evidence shows that that bandits trying to live in such wild conditions often stole ‘ordinary’ items just to keep alive. Almost always, the outlaw gangs of medieval England, robbed the poor and kept the takings for themselves.

In the thirteenth century, 40 per cent of all crime was larceny, consisting mainly of farm stock. Nearly twenty per cent was burglary and ten per cent was robbery. Homicide was recorded at nearly 20 per cent and around 6 percent was handling stolen goods. There were small percentages for arson, rape and treason.

The threat of murder or serious wounding in thirteenth century London was nearly twenty times higher than it is now.

About 12 percent of the army of English archers that beat off the French cavalry charges during the battle of Crecy in 1346 consisted of outlaws and between 1346-1347 several hundred grants of pardon were issued for service in Scotland and France.

On 21 November 1338, forty three archers joined the company of troops to enforce the garrison on the Isle of Wight from the French. Amongst the names recorded in the accounts of the new arrivals preserved at the Public Record Office is none other than ‘Robin Hood’.

Outlawry was abolished in civil proceedings in 1879. But it was as recent as 1938 in criminal proceedings.

Lythe and listin gentilmen,

That be of frebore blode;

I shall you tel of a gode yeman,

His name was Robyn Hode.

Robyn was a proud outlaw,

Whyles he walked on grounde;

So curteyse an outlawe as he was one

Was never non founde.

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

10. Robin Is Outlawed

Alan A Dale wandered towards a group of townspeople in Nottingham Square and began singing:

“Now Robin, who was called Fitzooth,

Is dwelling in the wood;

His coat is changed to Lincoln Green,

His name to Robin Hood.”

He stopped outside the Inn and the local people gathered around the merry minstrel and listened with interest. With a resounding chord, he started the second verse.

“Oh, Robin Hood doth hunt the deer,

That in the woodland prance;

But oft-times shoots the Sheriff’s men

By sorrowful mischance……..”

“He had good cause,” muttered somebody in the crowd, “’tis known who killed his father.”

Alan A Dale nodded, but before he could start his third verse, he was drowned out by the arrival of a villainous looking forester.

“Hearken! Hearken!” He called. “Having been informed of the felonies, robberies and murders committed by the man known as Robin Hood, our Liege Lord, Prince John hereby pronounces upon Robin Hood, sentence of outlawry!”

The forester turned away and began to hammer the proclamation onto a wooden post.

“You must catch Robin Hood before you can hang him, said a townsman.

The forester growled but made no reply, and as the crowd surged round the new proclamation Alan A Dale whirled round and came back towards the crowd, his fingers busy with a tune that had, all at once, become sprightly and mocking. The minstrel sang softly:

“He robs the rich to help the poor,

A most unusual practice,

And now that he has been outlawed

He needn’t pay his taxes….”

The crowd seethed with laughter and the minstrel picked out a few steps of an intricate dance. Then leaving the townspeople in a high good humour, he went marching jauntily off singing the song that was as much part of him as the shape of his nose or the colour of his hair:

“I’ll sing a song, a rollicky song

As I roll along my way;

With a hey derry down and a derry die do

And a riddle de diddle de day…..”

Coronation And Crusade

In nearly every Robin Hood movie, the story is set during the reign of Richard I (1189-1199). Walt Disney’s ‘Story of Robin Hood’ is no different and the part of King Richard was played by British actor Patrick Barr, who later resurrected the role in the well loved TV series ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ four years later.

The actual history of the reign of Richard I in no way lets down the legend and it was inevitable that he would be linked with that other English hero, Robin Hood. Firstly by a Scottish chronicler, John Major in 1521 and later by the playwright Anthony Munday and novelist Sir Walter Scott.

In October 1187 Jerusalem had fallen to the armies of Saladin and the following year Richard made his vows as a crusader. The English treasury was well supplied, thanks to the ‘Saladin tithe’ imposed by his father, Henry II. But Richard’s crusade would demand a great deal more.

At the time of his coronation Richard Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and Maine, Duke of Normandy and Lord of Aquitaine was in his thirty third year. A handsome six-footer, with long, straight limbs, deep chest and reddish-golden hair, he had a surprisingly pale complexion and dazzling blue eyes. He looked the model of the knightly warrior. Violent in his ‘Angevin’ rage and jealous of his honour, he could also be generous. Always the first to attack, the last to retreat, he was described by an enemy as the ‘most remarkable ruler of his times.’

A typical picture is of Richard wading ashore at Jaffa to relieve the hard-pressed Christian garrison calling, “shame on him who lags behind!” He was reckless in skirmishes, could joke in Latin, compose songs, took the ‘impregnable’ Taillebourg in Saintonge in three days and raised Chateau Gaillard within two years. Richard the Lionheart once told the Holy Roman Emperor, “I am born of a rank which recognizes no superior but God.”

In 1189 Richard was anxious to be off on the exciting adventure of a crusade, already before his coronation he had ordered a muster of ships. Everything was sacrificed to raising money for it, loyal officials were made to pay heavily for the new king’s goodwill, Sheriff’s were discharged from office and new ones were installed, who would pay to be admitted. Everything was for sale-privileges, lordships, earldoms, castles, towns. At the time he said he would sell London if he could find a buyer.

But a coronation was the most important event in medieval political life, so Richards crusading plans were put on hold while he prepared for his, in Westminster Abbey on Sunday 3 September 1189. In their descriptions of the ceremony the chroniclers have given us our first breathtaking insight of an English coronation which I could not resist including.

Attended at his lodgings by churchmen in purple silk vestments and priests bearing cross, candles and thuribles of smoking incense, the king was conducted to the abbey along the streets carpeted with finest linen cloth and resounding to the ‘most glorious singing.’

“…….And there they received the aforementioned Richard who was to be crowned and led him into the church of Westminster in this manner up to the alter with a solemn procession and hymnody. In front went the clerics dressed in white, carrying the holy water and the cross and the candles and the thuribles, next came the abbots, then the bishops. In the middle of those men, however, went four barons carrying candelabra with candles.

After then came John Marshal, carrying in his hands two large and heavy spurs from the king’s treasure. Next to him went Godfrey de Luci carrying the royal cope. After them came two earls, namely William Marshal, earl of Pembroke and William earl of Salisbury. William Marshall was carrying the royal sceptre, on the top of which was a golden design of the cross; William earl of Salisbury was carrying the royal rod, which had a dove on the top.

And after them came three earls, namely David, the brother of the king of Scotland, earl of Huntingdon, and Robert earl of Leicester, and between them went John Count of Mortain and earl of Gloucester, Richard’s brother. They were carrying three swords with splendid golden sheaths from the king’s treasure.

And after them came six earls and barons carrying a single board on which were placed the royal accoutrements and clothes. And after them went William de Mandeville, count of Aumale and earl of Essex, carrying the golden crown in his hands. Next came Richard duke of Normandey, count of Poitou. Hugh, bishop of Durham went on his right, and Reginald bishop of Bath went on his left, and a silk coverlet was carried over them. And the entire crowd of earls and barons and knights and others, both clerics and laymen, followed up into the nave of the church, and so through the church up to the alter.

On reaching the high altar, Richard took the coronation oath. Kneeling before a copy of the Gospels and the relics of many saints, he swore that all the days of his life he would observe peace, honour and reverence towards God and the holy church; that he would exercise right justice over all the people committed to his charge. Then Richard was anointed. All his clothes were stripped off except his breeches and his shirt, which was bare to the chest.

“Then they shod him with sandals woven from gold. Then the archbishop put the sceptre in his right hand and the royal rod in his left. Then Baldwin archbishop of Canterbury, pouring holy oil over him (using the beautiful little silver spoon last used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953) on three parts of his body, namely on his head, on his shoulders and on his right arm, with the appointed prayers for this act, anointed him as king.

Then he placed on his head a consecrated linen cloth and the cope over it. Then they dressed him in the royal garments: first a tunic, then a dalmatic. Then the archbishop entrusted to him the sword for constraining those who do wrong to the Church. Then the two earls put on him the splendid golden spurs from the king’s treasure.

Thus clad, Richard was led back to the altar, where the Archbishop adjured him, in the name of Almighty God, not to take the crown unless he genuinely intended to keep the oaths he had sworn. Richard replied that, with God’s help, he intended to observe them all.

“Then he (Richard) took the crown from the altar, and gave it to the archbishop and the archbishop placed it on the head of the king.” (The jewel encrusted crown was so heavy that Richard could keep it on his head only when two earls helped to take the weight.)

“And so the crowned king was led to his throne. Hugh bishop of Durham on his right and Reginald bishop of Bath on his left were leading him, the candles and the aforementioned three swords going before them. Then the Lord’s Mass was begun.” During the service a bat was seen to flitter around the throne, and this was odd because it was the middle of the day. It was looked upon by some to be an evil omen. Richard, however, was not a man to be deterred by portents.

“And when it reached the point of the offertory, the two aforesaid bishops led him to the offering, and then led him back to his throne. After Mass had been celebrated and everything had been carried out according to the service, the two aforesaid bishops, one on his right and one on his left, led back the crowned king, carrying the sceptre in his right hand and the royal rod in his left. properly advancing from the church to the king’s own dwelling by procession. Then the procession returned into the choir.”

Back in his chamber Richard was allowed to change into lighter clothes and a lighter crown. He then sat down to a coronation banquet, in which the clergy, in order of rank dined at his table, with the laity, earls, barons and knights sitting at different tables. The citizens of Winchester worked in the kitchen and the people of London were kept busy in the cellars. An idea of the scale of this magnificent occasion can be obtained from the fact that at least 1,770 pitchers, 900 cups and 5,050 dishes were brought in for the special occasion .

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem

One of the most memorable scenes in ‘The Story of Robin Hood’, is the fantastic view from the battlements of Nottingham Castle, as Richard the Lionheart’s Crusading knights ride off into the beautiful sunset, singing a Gregorian chant.

Walt Disney and the scouting crew visited ‘Notting-ham’, as he called it, in 1952. They called in at ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which has long been associated with Crusaders and is said to be one of the oldest pubs in Great Britain. The date on the exterior seventeenth century walls 1189, is the date of Richard the Lionheart’s accession to the English throne, but the tavern’s history starts long before then.

An original brew house can be linked to the site from the time of William the Conqueror (1066-1087). His construction engineer, William Peverill was instructed to build a motte and bailey castle on huge rocky red sandstone overlooking Nottingham in 1068. In the process, Peverill diverted the course of the River Leen to the foot of what is now known as Castle Rock as a moated defence and also as a valuable water supply for the future fortress.

But the water supply, in early times was often contaminated. The brewing process sterilised the water, making the drinking of ale, for a medieval citizen, a far safer alternative and the caves below the castle were an ideal location for this brewing environment. Today, you can still see in the ‘Trip’ rooms and cellars cut deep back into the castle rock, ventilating shafts climbing through the rock, a speaking tube bored through it and a chimney climbing through the rock forty seven feet above the chamber, all evidence of its brewing past.

Although there is very little surviving historical records from the middle ages, there is evidence that suggests that the area, which became known as Brewhouse Yard, was owned by the Knight’s of St. John of Jerusalem, The Knight Templars and the Priory of Lenton.

The word ‘Trip’ in the tavern’s name does not refer to a journey, but comes from the original ‘old English’ meaning of the word, to stop, during a journey-hence a break in the journey to the Holy Land. In fact the pub’s former name was ‘The Pilgrim,’ which brings us back to the link with the legend of the Crusaders and King Richard.

So ale was certainly available on the site of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, back when Richard and his Crusaders were leaving for the Holy Land in December 1189. Amidst the carved rooms and gnarled beams in that ancient tavern, it is hard not to imagine the knights supping a final ale before setting off for the other side of their known world.

In the 1980’s when I stayed in Nottingham and visited the many sights of the old city, I read a lovely story that is connected to Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. It stated that the herb Borage because of its beautiful pure blue flower, was often chosen by Old Masters to paint the Madonna’s robe. For courage, the flowers were floated in the jugs of ale given to the Crusaders at their departure for the Holy Land.

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

The Truest Rendering Of Merrie Old England

The picture shows Richard Todd, Lawrence Watkin (script writer), Perce Pearce (producer) and Dr Charles Beard (research advisor) during the planning stages of the film, ‘Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men,’ visiting Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, in Nottingham.

In March 1952 Walt Disney spent three days with Ken Annakin, visiting Sherwood Forest and looking over a number of castles in the Midlands. But Disney was disappointed to see that most of them were ruined by Cromwell’s cannons centuries ago. He liked perfection in the realisation of his dreams.

So after leaving Nottingham, he said to Carmen Dillon, the art director and Perce Pearce, “I want this movie to be the truest rendering of ‘merrie old England’ to date. But I think shooting up here on location is a sheer waste of money. Ken (Annakin) says he can find a forest of oaks, within five miles of the studio and your castle set Carmen, can be much more impressive and realistic than any of these ruins we’ve seen. Is there such a thing as a good matte painter in England?”

It was Carman who suggested Peter Ellenshaw, “he is a clever young painter,” he said, “and has the backing of his father-in-law, Poppa Day, who has been doing optical tricks and matte’s with Korda for many years.”

“Sounds good,” said Walt, “we’ll paint all the long shots of medieval Nottingham, the castle, Richard going to the Crusades etc etc on glass. They’ll be much more fun than the real thing.”

Poppa Day had passed on his knowledge to Peter Ellenshaw, he had taught him how to give depth to a painting, the illusion of movement in a glass shot and how to marry special effects with painted mattes. But it was Walt Disney himself who taught Ellenshaw the use of false perspective and the importance of atmosphere in a painting.

This resulted in Peter Ellenshaw painting twelve matte shots for the movie and later becoming the matte genius of the world. He eventually moved from London to Burbank and was given a life long contract by Walt Disney.

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

9. Murder

Close behind came Maid Marian on horseback waving the golden arrow given to her by Robin. Then she was gone and the forest fell silent.

As they continued their journey they were soon following a narrow winding path beneath a thick canopy of Beech trees. Suddenly there was a ZIPP as an arrow hit Hugh Fitzooth in his back. The stout game keeper straightened up, violently choked, then fell forward. Robin bent over his father’s body, grasping at the arrow, but a second arrow, whizzing past his head, prevented him from helping his dying father. Stunned, Robin quickly dived behind a covering tree and waited, breathing hard.

Eventually, Robin cautiously peered around the trunk of the tree, to get a glimpse of his father’s assassin. There in a fork of a tree, he saw an archer in the black and yellow colours of the sheriff of Nottingham. Robin quickly let fly a shaft that thudded into Red Gill’s chest. The sheriff’s assassin swayed unsteadily then fell backwards, crashing to the ground.

Robin went over and stared down at the man that had murdered his father. But the sound of hoof beats, soon sent Robin quickly running through the forest to avoid the rest of the sheriff’s soldiers. The leader of the sheriff’s men reigned in his horse and looked down at the dead body of Red Gill. He then beckoned his men to follow Robin. But before darkness came, Robin Fitzooth was safely hidden in a cave, in the depths of Sherwood Forest.

Robin Sees His Father's Assasin

Robin Takes Shelter

Reginald Tate

Reginald Tate played the part of Hugh Fitzooth, gamekeeper to the Earl of Huntingdon, in this movie. He was born on December 13th 1896 in Garforth near Leeds in Yorkshire, England. His grandfather had been manager at the local colliery in Garforth and his father worked on the North Eastern Railway.
After attending various private schools, young Reginald Tate eventually became a pupil at St. Martin’s School in York. At the end of his schooling, he joined his father on the local railway, but soon, with the outbreak of the First World War he joined the army
With the end of the WWI, he began acting in mainly theatrical performances, but soon offers of major film parts started to appear.

Tangled Evidence
Whispering Tongues


The Riverside Murder
The Phantom Light
The Man Behind The Mask
Dark Journey
For Valor
Poison Pen
Too Dangerous to Live
It Happened to One Man
Next of Kin
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
The Way Ahead
Madonna of the Seven Moons
Journey Together
The Man from Morocco
So Well Remembered
The Inheritance
The Silk Noose
Diamond City
Midnight Episode
Secret People
The Story of Robin Hood
The Malta Story
I'll Get You
King's Rhapsody
Reginald Tate was a regular actor on BBC Television, including a notable performance as Stanhope in ‘Journey’s End’ in 1937.

When television production resumed after the Second World War he continued his work in this relatively new media, which led to him taking a BBC Production Coarse and producing a play, ‘Night Was Out Friend’ , broadcast only sixteen days before his death.

His pinnacle role was in the groundbreaking science fiction series of 1953, The Quatermass Experiment.

As Professor Bernard Quatermass, Tate was a big success and two years later he was asked to reprise this role in Quatermass II, but sadly, shortly before transmission on 23rd August 1955, he died of a heart attack, aged only fifty nine.

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007

Song Of The Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

What of the bow?
The bow was made in England:
Of true wood, of yew wood,
The wood of English bows;
So men who are free
Love the old yew tree
And the land where the yew tree grows.

What of the cord?
The cord was made in England:
A rough cord, a tough cord,
A cord that bowmen love;
So we'll drain our jacks
To the English flax
And the land where the hemp was wove.

What of the shaft?
The shaft was cut in England:
A long shaft, a strong shaft,
Barbed and trim and true;
So we'll drink all together
To the gray goose feather
And the land where the gray goose flew.

What of the men?
The men were bred in England:
The bowman--the yeoman--
The lads of dale and fell
Here's to you--and to you;
To the hearts that are true
And the land where the true hearts dwell.

8. The Cock Crows Too Loudly

“Hear me, good yeoman!” called De Lacy, the new Sheriff of Nottingham, as the archers began to leave the fair. “Would you eat and drink of the best? Then hear ye! Every man who hit the white at four score yards is free to take service with me.”

A few independent archers stopped in their tracks, undecided and turned towards Hugh Fitzooth.

“I’ll have high bows only,” the Sheriff went on, “twenty marks a man shall be your wage at Christmastide. What say you, good Fitzooth? Will you and your son change your coats?”
Robin’s father drew himself up and turned slowly to face the sheriff.

“In the old days I’d ha’ been proud to wear the king’s livery. But a forester in Sherwood nowadays is no better than a tax gatherer and a sheriff’s bully."

“Silence!” hissed the furious sheriff.

“Nay! I will not keep silent. It is time an honest man spoke out. Come lad!”

Hugh Fitzooth glared defiantly and strode away, followed by most of the independent archers.

Red Gill watched them go and turned to his master.

“What do you do, when the cock crows too loudly?” Said the sheriff nodding towards Hugh Fitzooth.

“Trim his comb,” replied Red Gill grinning unpleasantly.

Soon Robin and his father had left the town of Nottingham behind them and reached the outskirts of Sherwood Forest.

As they trudged on, they met the knights and mounted archers of the Royal cavalcade on its way to London. Hugh and Robin Fitzooth dropped gracefully to their knees as the Queen’s litter passed by.

The Grey Goose Feather

*Somtyme I was an archere good,

A styffe and eke a stronge;

I was compted the best archere

That was in mery Englonde.

*A Gest of Robyn Hode

It was during the last quarter of the thirteenth century that the longbow man became recognised as an effective part of the English army. Richard I (1189-1199) preferred crossbowmen on foot in conjunction with cavalry, but during Edward I’s (1272-1307) Welsh wars he discovered the true value of a skilled archer and laid the foundation of the longbow as a military weapon, that was to shock the French between the 1340’s and 1420’s.
Gerald of Wales had recorded, in about 1188 its deadly uses by the men of South Wales, during the Norman invasion of Ireland.

William de Braose also testifies that, in the war against the Welsh, one of his men-at-arms was struck by an arrow shot at him by a Welshman. It went right through his thigh, high up, where it was protected outside and inside the leg by his iron thigh armour, and then through the skirt of his leather tunic; next it penetrated that part of the saddle which is called the alva or seat; and finally it lodged in his horse, driving it so deep it killed the animal.

Quickly realising its potential, Edward I started by combining Welsh and English bowman with awesome effect against the Scots at Falkirk in 1298.

A landmark in the history of archery had been reached in 1252 with Henry III’s Assize of Arms. It confirmed the recognition of the bow by the English and its importance in warfare. And declared that in a time of emergency (posse comittatus) commissioners were to select as paid soldiers, citizens with chattels worth more than nine marks and less than twenty. They should be armed with bow, arrows and a sword. A special clause was included for poor men with less than this who could bring bows and arrows if they owned them. But those living within or near a Royal Forest had to keep their arrows blunt.

There are no surviving bows from the early Middle Ages and only five from the Renaissance, but they are similar in construction. All five are ‘self bows’, that is made from a single stave of wood, shaped in order to use the centre and sap wood and symmetrically tapered. The favourite wood was Spanish Yew or Wych Elm, Elm or Ash. Because of our wetter climate English Yew was courser grained and therefore not as popular.

Bows were made by a craftsman called a Bowyer. First, logs of yew were cut into thin sections called ‘bow staves’. These were then stored for three to four years to ‘season’, before being ready for the bowyer to shape into slender bows. The bow stave is cut from the radius of the tree so that the sapwood (on the outside of the tree) becomes the back and the heartwood becomes the belly. The lighter sapwood (on the outside curve, facing the target) would aid spring, whilst the darker heartwood (on the inside) would aid compression.

The bow strings were made of twine, which in turn, was made from hemp and flax plants. Ash was a popular wood for arrows, although most wood was suitable and the feathers, usually from the grey goose, were stuck on with glue made from bluebell bulbs.

In 1285 Edward I re-enacted the Assize of Arms with his Statute of Winchester ordering that, every man shall have in his house equipment for keeping the peace, according to the ancient assize; that is to say, every man between 15 and 60 years of age shall be assessed and obliged to have arms according to the quality of his lands and goods.

Edward’s Assize ordered that archery should be practised on Sundays and Holidays and thirteen years later, King Edward’s archers concentrated hails of arrows with devastating effect on the Scots during the Battle of Falkirk. In this same year an incident recorded in the “De Banco Roll” gives an excellent description of a bow and arrow used in a murder. A Simon de Skeffington had been shot and killed by a barbed arrow. The wound measured three inches long by two inches wide and was six inches deep. It had been caused by:

….an arrow from a bow, the arrow being barbed with an iron arrow-head 3 inches long and 2 inches broad, the arrow was almost 34 inches long of Ash…….feathered with peacock feathers and the bow being of yew and the bowstring of hemp, the length of the bow being one ell and a half in gross circumference (five feet seven inches long).

In ‘A Gest of Robyn Hode,’ one of the earliest surviving ballads about the outlaw, a knight re-pays Robin a debt:

An every arowe an elle longe,

With pecok wel idyght,

Worked all with white silver;

It was a seemly sight.

* A Gest of Robyn Hode

The advantage of the bow or longbow, as the military version became known, was its relative cheap construction and expandability. Its problem was the training involved to make it an effective killing instrument on the battlefield. So boys from about the age of ten, spent hours in their local churchyard practising at the butts after Mass on Sundays. This compulsory training was essential as the art of drawing a bow took years to perfect. The lightest bow had draw weights of around 100 pounds, the heaviest about 175 pounds, with the bow drawn 'to the ear' (rather than to the corner of the mouth as is common in modern archery). The attachment points for the string were protected by horn ‘nocks’. There was no arrow rest on the handle as on modern bows, with the arrow resting on the index finger. The longbow, often as tall as its owner (sometimes well over 5 ft.), could loose an arrow 180 metres and the best archers could accurately draw and discharge between ten to twelve arrows a minute.

Ascham in ‘Toxophilus’ (1545) wrote, ‘ a perfyte archer must firste learne to knowe the sure flyghte of his shaftes, that he may be boulde always, to trust them.

In 1466 an Act ordered all Englishman, with the exception of judges and clerics, to keep a longbow of their own height and further decreed that every town and village must erect butts at which the citizens were to shoot on Sundays and feast-days, or face a fine of one halfpenny for each failure to do so.

There were three main marks for the archer. The first was the ‘rover’, used in shooting over open ground at uncertain distances. Secondly, the ‘prick’ or ‘clout’ was a small canvas mark with a white circle painted on it and a wooden peg in the centre of the ring. Usually set at distances from 160 to 240 yards ‘prick-shooting’ was intended to teach the archer to be able to shoot as often as necessary over the same distance. The third mark were the ‘Butts’, earthen turfed mounds on which paper discs marked with circles were fixed. They were erected at the public cost in every village up and down the English countryside and their use was frequently enforced to encourage the use of the weapon that brought astonishing victories at Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt.

Bishop Latimer (1485-1555) was the son of a yeoman, who as a child had been taught how to use a longbow:

In my time my poor father was as delighted to teach me to shoot as to learn any other thing; and so I think, other men did their children; he taught me how to draw, how to lay my body and my bow, and not to draw with strength of arm as other nations do but with strength of body. I had my bow bought me according to my age and strength; as I increased in them, so my bows were made bigger and bigger; for men will never shoot well, except they be brought up to it. It is a goodly art, a wholesome kind of exercise, and, much commended as physic.

But archery practice became a duty that undoubtedly many tried to evade in one way or another, so to raise the enthusiasm, private matches were set up and archery pageants were organised in local villages. These competitions and games soon became linked with the bold outlaw who became synonymous with accurate shooting of a bow and arrow, Robin Hood.

Philip Stubbs (f. 1583-91) explains how the Summer games incorporated the practice of archery:

Myself remembreth of a childe, in contreye native mine,
A May Game was of Robyn Hood, and of his train, that time,
To train up young men striplings and each other younger childe,
In shooting; yearly this with solemn feast was by the guylde,

Or brotherhood of townsmen.

So the archery practice linked with the summer games and festivals insured the continuing popularity of the outlaw hero.

*Thryce Robyn shot about,
And Always he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte,
With the wyte hande.

Lytell Johan and good Gylberte,
Were archers good and fre;
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste they wolde not be.

* A Gest of Robyn Hode

© Clement of the Glen 2006-2007