Joan Rice at the Premier of Disney's Robin Hood

I know that some of my regular readers will be thrilled to see yet another unique image carefully restored of Joan Rice, courtesy of Horace Ward.

As many of you know, Horace was a press photographer who attended the premier of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men at the Leicester Square Theatre on Thursday 13th March 1952. He explained that this stunning photograph was taken with an Ilford Glass Plate and a Philips Flashbulb.

The Whistling Arrows were sent a slightly different version of this photograph after winning the blog competition a year ago. But this picture of beautiful Joan Rice (Maid Marian) posing for the world’s press, reveals more detail of the amazing display in the theatre.

Patrick Bergin as Robin Hood

Patrick Bergin played the part of Sir Robert Hode, Earl of Huntington along with Uma Thurman as Maid Marian in the 20th Century-Fox movie, Robin Hood which was released in 1991. But it has almost been relegated to obscurity due to the hype that surrounded Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which was released by Warner Brothers in the same year. Bergin was also sadly overlooked in my recent Robin Hood Poll, so for WoodsyLadyM and others here are a couple of stills from this excellent movie, hopefully to help compensate.

I have watched this movie several times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Many film critics have described it as ‘the most historically authentic screen interpretation,’ and with Professor James Holt acting as historical advisor, how could it be anything else? Holt is former president of the Royal Historical Society, Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at Cambridge, an expert on the reign of King John and the Magna Carta and wrote, without doubt, the best book on the historical search for a ‘real’ Robin Hood. I shall certainly give this film some more attention in the future!

Old Friends

Mike has recently sent me a rather heartwarming account of how Walt Disney’s motion picture the ‘Story of Robin Hood,’ helped him get through the trauma of moving to new surroundings:

“Hi Clement,

I thought I would tell you how the film helped me. Back in 1958 living in Plaistow, East London, an old EastEnders type house is all I knew, we were happy there, my brother, Mum and step dad. All at once life changed, Mum was given notice to quit the house after living there for 32 years, I was 17, and a non driver (still am). We searched and searched but had no luck in finding a new home, so we tried for an exchange to Basildon, Essex. To me at that time it was deep in the country. So it happened I had to leave my friends and my familiar surroundings, places I had known all my life.

Basildon then was a new town; there was nothing as far as entertainment goes not even a cinema at that time. I soon became unhappy but just struggled on, I missed Wanstead Park where we played at Robin Hood years earlier, all my memories were back there in Plaistow, and Basildon had none. One day in the local paper I saw the magic words “The Story of Robin Hood," it was showing at nearby Stanford Le Hope, it was a summer’s day when I caught the train and arrived two hours before the film started, I was excited to see it after what were quite a few years. No videos then of course, I walked the town streets trying to kill time, eventually I got in the cinema.

It was wonderful, like all my old friends were back, as fresh and colourful as ever, I felt so much better, and although my life had changed it made me realize that no matter where you are, you can still enjoy the things you love, things got better for me from then on and I thank our film for that, it was the turning point for me. And now all these years later it is shining brighter than ever, thanks in no small part to you my friend and Neil of course.

Best regards, Mike.”

When I asked Mike if he minded me posting his letter, he replied:

“ Go ahead by all means, I too would like to see how our film as affected others lives, there’s a sadness there as well , knowing that these people who gave us and continue to give us pleasure are no longer around, they live in our hearts and minds, that 90 minutes or so is kind of our Holy Grail.”

Many thanks Mike for sharing this with us. I’m sure we all agree with those sentiments. If you have fond memories of seeing any Robin Hood productions like this, please get in touch at:

Who Was Your Favourite Robin Hood?

This is the result of a poll that I have had sitting on my blog for a couple of years now. As Russell Crowe is now a contender, since the release of his new film, I thought I would finally remove it and perhaps run a similar poll in the future. What do you think of the final outcome?

The 'Carps' and the Ghosts

Albie is lucky enough to live, in what is known as ‘Robin Hood Country’-Nottinghamshire. He has recently provided some stunning pictures of Sherwood Forest which were very popular with my readers. This time Albie has very kindly sent in a fascinating history of two of his local taverns in the Nottinghamshire village of Walesby, The Carpenters Arms and The Red Lion.

"The old and new pictures show the Carpenters Arms public house in Walesby. The older picture was taken in the early years of the 20th century and was copied from one of a series of post cards popular in that era. The pub was built in 1830 and is currently owned by the Everard’s brewery of Leicester. The interior has been re-styled over the years with the accommodation for the landlord now being upstairs, previously being downstairs around the current fireplace on the right of the building.

The man standing at the top of the stairs was possibly the landlord at the time. The cottage to the right (furthest cottage) was the original Methodist chapel in the village. It is known that the son of the founder of Methodism, Charles Wesley, preached there, and possibly Charles himself. The chapel now forms part of the house living area. The house in the right foreground is of a similar date (1770’s) or slightly later. Behind the pub, but obscured by it, near the top of the hill was the bakery which is also from the same era.

As can be seen by the new photo the cottage in the middle of what is now the road from Ollerton to Retford, is gone, and the road goes over its foundations. The building was demolished in the late 1950’s or early 60’s and residents can still remember it well. The signpost can be seen in both old & new photo’s and indicates that Perlethorpe is 2.5 miles down Brake Road and Budby some 4 miles distant. This road leads due-west past Boughton Brake and onwards to the A614 which is 2 miles away. Directly across this road on the A614 a minor road passes through Thoresby Hall land and onwards to Budby, Perlethorpe being near to the Hall and effectively is the estate village for it. The sign that is seen in the new photos is the original one; it was renovated by Walesby Parish Council around 2002.

The Carpenters is not the only pub in the village, the other being the Red Lion situated 400 yards down Main Street, which starts where the now demolished cottage is to the left of the pictures. The Lion has a large portion of the building dating to some 400 years ago and is near the heart of the old village.

Although only 180 years old at the time of writing, the Carps (as it is known locally) main claim to fame is its resident ghosts. The most seen one is that of the Grey Lady. She has been seen by many people (including this author!) and wears a Victorian style bonnet and long dress. Often seen upstairs in the landlords apartment, she has also been seen by regulars in the bar area. It is unknown who she was but is a ‘friendly’ ghost. A second ‘visitor’ is a gentleman wearing tweed clothing with a red complexion. He is thought to be a former landlord who was accidentally killed when a shot gun went off in his kitchen area, in front of the fireplace in the current bar area. This happened in 1947.

A third reported ghost is to be found in the cellar situated below the steps where the landlord stands in the old picture. The cellar is low, cramped and eerie as there is no natural light. A rumour persists that a previous landlord hung himself down there but no proof of this exists. The stories could have more to do with the fact the pub is built on an old crossroads. In medieval times, criminals were hanged and executed at crossroads outside of inhabited areas (the old village centre being 400 yards away at that time). Once dead, the bodies would be buried at the crossroad so their spirits would not know which way to wander and hence enter the village to haunt the locals! It is likely this crossroad was used for such purposes in the distant past.

Another legend of a 4th spectre is that of the White Lady. She reputedly walks from Rufford Abbey into Edwinstowe. There she turns right and heads towards the current junction of the A614 and the A616 Sheffield – Newark road and onwards to the carps at Walesby. She then turns back to return to Rufford, thus completing a triangle of around 12 miles distance in total. Theory is she was a lover of a monk from the Abbey (dissolved with the other entire Abbeys by Henry VIII in the 1540’s). Why she would come from Edwinstowe to Walesby is confusing but when the Abbey was shut down by Henry, one of the monks from there became the vicar of St Edmunds Church in Walesby. No one has seen this ghost for a number of years.”

I recently asked Albie where he saw ‘The White Lady?’

“I saw the  ghost whilst sitting at the bar one evening. I'd only just sat down and when I looked up something caught my eye. This grey figure glided from the right of the bar from the eating area and dissolved by the front door. I have also seen another figure sat on one of the bench seats inside which stayed a few moments before fading away. A number of times items on the back of the bar have either moved or flown across the serving area - a pen did so when I was there when no one was stood anywhere near the bar. Nothing malevolent, just strange things and I can add that a previous landlord saw the ‘Grey Lady’ and ‘Tweed Man’ standing at the foot of the accommodation stairs together. His father also the Grey Lady but never said anything about. When he did (rather sheepishly) his son said, 'yeah many have see it, you are not on your own'.

Terry (father) was a university lecturer so a fairly sober and learned man. Take this one with a pinch of salt, the current landlords partner (who is from Thailand) has both seen and talked to the Grey Lady. She apparently came and sat down at the end of her bed and talked with his partner.

Not so sure how valid the last story is (though Neil, our current mine host says it is true and he is not one for telling tall stories) but the others are!”

Albie-May 2010

Albie has very kindly sent in more details about the local history and countryside around Sherwood and Nottinghamshire, which I will post very soon.

Russell Crowe's Robin Hood 2010

They say that each generation gets its own particular Robin Hood, and now the 21st Century prepares to see yet another interpretation of the medieval legend about an outlaw with a bow and arrow. The Internet is red hot with video clips and interviews about 72 year old Sir Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood which gets released today! Australia is already releasing stamps showing scenes from the new film. My regular readers will be aware that during this movies long build-up, I have posted quite a few times about various stages of its production. From what I have seen from the teaser trailers, it does looks very good and I am looking forward to it.

The newspapers have been full of articles about the making of this epic, including its possible release in 3D-a sequel (if the film is successful) and on Russell Crowe’s voice training, while he was preparing for his starring role.

Crowe, 45, was born in New Zealand and brought up in Australia but will play the new role with an ‘English’ accent. Ridley Scott hired three voice coaches: Judy Dickerson, Sara Poyzer and Andrew Jack, who worked with other cast members, including Cate Blanchett, who plays Maid Marian. Veteran film director, Scott, wanted to make sure the movie sounds as well as looks ‘accurate’, so Crowe’s Robin will be pronouncing Nottingham as 'Noddinham.’

But this ridiculous fuss over ‘Robin Hood’s accent' continued today (Friday) after some papers have reported that Russell Crowe stormed out of a BBC 4 interview recorded at London’s Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane, with Mark Lawson. He apparently flipped when Lawson suggested that Crowe had ‘hints’ of Irish in his portrayal of the outlaw from ‘Nottingham.’ The New Zealander raged: “You’ve got dead ears, mate – seriously dead ears if you think that’s an Irish accent.”

Voice Coach, Sara Poyzer later insisted that she taught him the Nottinghamshire accent, and that he did a pretty good job. But according to the press, Judy Dickerson contradicted this and said she coached him to speak like someone from the Rutland area!

            Leon Unczur, Sheriff of Nottingham

Councilor Leon Unczur, the current Sheriff of Nottingham, said that Crowe’s accent was “not bad,” although, some jester, interviewed after seeing the movie thought he turned out sounding more like an Aussie doing an impression of Jim Bowen from ‘Bullseye!’

VisitBritain has teamed up with Universal Pictures and other tourism agencies to promote the film and some of its locations, which include the East Midlands, Pembrokeshire and the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe added: "We know that 40 per cent of our potential visitors would be ‘very likely’ to visit places from films and thoroughly enjoy visiting film locations they see on the big screen."

People staying in holiday lodges in the Midlands can head to Nottingham Castle and the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre to see the exhibition ‘Robin Hood – The Movie’. They will be able to see props, costumes and also some film memorabilia. The existing forest center exhibition about the history of Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest has also been given a complete makeover.

All the exhibitions are free and throughout the month, known of course as ‘Robin Hood Month,’ medieval and Robin Hood themed events will take place all over Sherwood Forest and the surrounding communities. Nottingham County Council, together with Rufford Abbey Country Park and Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, have thrown themselves into the celebrations with gusto!

Director Sir Ridley Scott said: "It was fundamental to the project that this motion picture was filmed in Britain – it was extremely important to catch the real essence and feeling only British locations in particular could achieve. The only way we could achieve such a successful production was with the authenticity of the locations Britain and the East Midlands had to offer.’

Russell Crowe says he has loved the story since he was a boy, “I watched the Richard Greene TV series, but when you see the episodes now, they’re a bit creaky, and it’s basically the same story every week. I saw the Errol Flynn version and the Douglas Fairbanks one when I was really young. But I really disliked ‘Prince of Thieves’ with Kevin Costner. I thought it was like a Jon Bon Jovi video clip-all the mullet hairdos.”

This was the 1991 version which is chiefly remembered for Costner’s broad American accent, the most hilariously camp Sheriff of Nottingham ever, in the form of Alan Rickman, and Morgan Freeman’s use of a telescope about 400 years before it was invented.

“I still think there has never been a cinema Robin Hood who could have really existed,” Crowe says. “When you do the research you discover that the Robin Hood story is based on 24 to 30 different real people who were born in lots of different places. So you can take the time period, use the core message and put a different take on it.”

“Part of the recalibration of Robin Hood,” Crowe continues, “is to put him into a place where he’s a real man with a real job. I wanted to take out the fairytale, superhero aspect. He’s got at least ten years of military experience behind him. Our attitude was that all the politics, the philosophical aspects, the romance, all grow out of the story of a real person.”

For the first time, Crowe is credited as a producer, he has been involved in every aspect of the production-from the script, to the costume he wears, in this case a battered tunic and a chain mail over worn leather trousers. As I reported in an earlier post, he got himself in to peak condition for the part. His daily routine included bike riding, gym time and hours learning archery on his farm near Coff’s Harbor in New South Wales.

“Archery is a beautiful thing when you get it right, Crowe explains. “I love it and I’ve continued with it. I have a collection of bows from the film and I go out back and drag out the target and shoot off 50 arrows or more for relaxation.

Crowe did most of the action scenes himself. This is movie making on a grand scale, there’s one spectacular sequence where Robin Hood leads his band to repel an invasion by the French. This scene (see my earlier post), was filmed on a beach in Pembrokeshire (which is meant to be Dover), was a nightmare to film. The tides are fast and potentially treacherous. Scott had to marshal 130 horsemen on the beach-including Crowe - and a landing craft disgorging French fighters on to the shore under a cloud of arrows. Crowe described it as ‘all anarchy, violence and adrenaline. It was intense.’

“You’re in a cavalry charge with a 130 horses going as fast as they can,” he says, “and you smash in to 500 men on the ground and have seven or eight fights. And it has to take place at exactly the right time.” According to Crowe there was about 15 people taken from the field. Some of them went to hospital but were OK.

The script is written by Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential) and it places Robin Hood in the familiar reign of Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) as a battle-hardened, middle-aged archer. Robin has three ‘merrie men,’ Little John (Kevin Durand), Will Scarlet (Scot Grimes) and Alan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle) along with Mark Addy as the bee-keeping, mead swilling Friar Tuck. The rather spiky widow, Marian, is played by Cate Blanchett who has to resist the amorous attentions of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen). Richard’s newly crowned brother; King John (Oscar Isaac) defies the advice of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins). The design team was led by Arthur Max.

Mike (one of our Whistling Arrows), has already been to see it, and described it as: “.........gritty muddy, good action and good characters. I was not disappointed and they have left themselves wide open for a sequel because this film ends where the others begin. The sets, the thousands of props, were fantastic, dialogue gets a little hard to hear, and eventually, when the Blue Ray version is out it will be a joy to see it again.”

If you see this new version of Sir Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, please get in touch at or comment below and let me know your opinions of it. I will be very interested to read them.

My new visitors might like to know that I regularly post; not only on the films, television series, places, ballads and images associated with Robin Hood, but also about the research into his real historical existence. I have been studying the legend for over thirty years. Please click on the Labels in the right-hand column to see the relevant posts so far. And please stick around to see plenty more!

Joan Rice and her agent George Routledge

I would like to thank Joan Rice’s nephew, Richard, for contacting me recently and sending in some interesting pictures of his aunt. As my regular readers will know, Joan is regarded by myself and many others, as the best Maid Marian of all time. My blog is dedicated to her memory.

In March 2009 I posted some press photos taken by Horace Ward of Joan’s wedding at Gables Lodge in Maidenhead on Monday February 16th 1953. On that day she married film salesman David Green, but we wanted to know who the gentleman was who escorted her. We thought at first, it might have been her father, but I can now reveal that in fact it was her agent, George Routledge.

So if anybody can help shed some more light on George Routledge, please get in touch at

To read more about the life of Joan Rice, Walt Disney's first Maid Marian, please click on the Label below.

Robin's Merrie Men

Above is very good still from Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952) showing Friar Tuck (James Hayter) demanding two hundred shillings from the Sheriff (Peter Finch) for the ill treatment of the poor, eating at Robin’s table and for giving the friar a nasty bump on his head!

In this picture we also get a clear view of some of the faces of the Merrie men. So, what I would like to do is try and put some names to the faces that are shown. I have included below a list of the actors that appeared as Robin’s band of outlaws in the movie. If you can identify any of them in the picture, please get in touch at

Here is a list of the actors:

John Brooking: - Merrie Man

Ivan Craig: - Merrie Man

John French: - Merrie Man

Richard Graydon :- Merrie Man

Geoffrey Lumsden: - Merrie Man

John Martin: - Merrie Man

Larry Mooney: - Merrie Man

Nigel Neilson: - Merrie Man

Charles Perry: - Merrie Man

Ewen Solon: - Merrie Man

John Stamp: - Merrie Man

Jack Taylor: - Merrie Man

Political Robin Hood

As Britain’s Election begins tomorrow (Thursday), I thought I would take a small look at how - 600 hundred years later - a medieval outlaw still has an influence in our modern world and its politics.

To see more interpretations of Robin Hood, please click on the Label ‘Images of a Legend.’

Robin Hood in America

In the twentieth century it has mainly been America that has made the most significant contribution to the legend of Robin Hood. It is through Hollywood and particularly two major films, the energetic 1922 Douglas Fairbanks production and the 1938 Technicolor classic with Errol Flynn, ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood,’ that our modern image of the outlaw has evolved.

The early British colonists exported the ballads and stories of Robin Hood with them, to many parts of the world, particularly Australia and the USA. And it is testament to the phenomenal popularity of the outlaw and the legacy of those medieval entertainers that so many places today exist bearing the name of characters or places from the legend. There are currently 11 Sherwoods in America!

So it was very interesting for me recently to discover Avalon’s blog. Avalon is a Native American who has an interest in both the Arthurian and Robin Hood legends. On Robin Hood she says, “I have read numerous books on the legend since childhood and I definitely believe the ballads were based on actual people, embellished and diminished through the generations, but originated from truth.” Avalon is currently enjoying the recent BBC series ‘Robin Hood’ with Jonas Armstrong and Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne (she admits to having an infatuation with Richard Armitage).

Avalon has very kindly agreed to let me reproduce some research she carried out on streets in America named after characters in the Robin Hood legend. The pictures of the road signs were taken during a cycle ride she took with her children through a neighbourhood known as ‘Sherwood Forest’ in Rome, Georgia. She explains:

“The kids and I decided to ride through Sherwood with me pulling over and taking photos of street signs. It was near 72 today (the warmest day so far) and many people were out on the lawns, looking at me like I was some lunatic. A mail carrier stopped and asked me who I was searching for and I said "A street with the name of Allan A Dale!" He thought I was a fruit loop!”

These are the results of Avalon’s survey, (I have omitted the Arthurian names):

"Below is an estimate of streets named after different medieval legends (various spellings including streets, roads, circle, manors, etc). Most states have only a few except the Southern States, which have MANY, thus upholds my theory regarding Southerners' infatuation with the medieval era.

In America there are about 146 streets titled Sherwood Forest
North Carolina- 12
Georgia- 5
Florida- 9
Texas- 18
Virginia- 10

And 2,126 with just Sherwood (which may or may not have anything to do with Robin Hood).

Nottingham 1,058 
North Carolina- 56
Georgia- 42
Florida- 41
Texas- 76
Virginia- 41

Robin Hood 288
North Carolina- 14
Georgia- 24
Florida- 15
Texas- 22
Virginia- 18

Lady or Maid Marian 107
Will Scarlett 27
Little John  276
Allan A Dale  31
Friar Tuck 170
And poor Much only 1
Sir Guy or Sir Gisborne 17"

I want to thank Avalon for allowing me to use her pictures and research. I am sure you will agree it is very interesting and ties in nicely with Albie’s recent pictures of the real Sherwood Forest.

Avalon’s blog is listed in the right hand column of my web site and can be reached here