800 Posts!

Richard Todd (Robin Hood), Walt Disney and Joan Rice (Maid Marian)

This is my 800th blog post! It's hard to believe. I started this blog way back in October 2006 and never dreamt it would become so successful. 

It was Walt Disney's live action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men released in 1952, that inspired me. Not only did I want to write about this forgotten film, but also learn more about its production and the lives of its wonderful cast and crew. Back then, the internet was new, so I had to muddle my way through creating this web site. It was all trial and error.

Robin Hood has fascinated me since my early childhood and I have studied the legend ever since. Unlike more recent productions, Disney's live-action movie showed respect to the ancient ballads about the outlaw. So, it was easy for me to highlight certain aspects of the film and explain some of the historical origins of the screen-play. Along with this, I featured places associated with the legend like Nottingham Castle. One of the many highlights for me, was tracing the ancient tracts through Sherwood Forest with Albie. 

You can read the vast amount of subjects I have covered by clicking on the labels in the task bar.

Richard Todd (Robin Hood) and Joan Rice (Maid Marian)

Over time, my readership grew and eventually I received messages and input from fellow admirers of this wonderful film. Neil Vessey, Mike Giddens, John Nelson, Laurence, Christian, Geoff Waite and many, many others. All of them made a huge and invaluable contribution to this web site. I thank you all so very, very much for your contributions (including all those I have forgotten to mention!)

One of the many stars of the film was Joan Rice (1930-1997). She was personally picked by Disney to play the part of Maid Marian. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her on that silver screen. But, I could find out very little about her life. Fortunately, I was contacted by someone who knew Joan back in the 1970's - Maria Steyn. Maria, together with members of Joan's family and readers of this blog, have all helped me gradually piece together Joan's life and career.

The article about my research

In 2009 a reporter from the Maidenhead Advertiser emailed me. She had been reading my articles about Joan Rice and asked if I would help her on a feature about the star's life and her connections to the town. This resulted in my appearance in two local papers and the discovery of Joan's final resting place in Braywick Cemetery.

There have been so many highlights since I started this blog. Neil has sent in countless amazing discoveries about this movie and its actors. Laurence created a fantastic strip of the whole film, and created our blog banner. Geoff Waite, the expert on the life of Elton Hayes, has provided us with numerous articles about our Alan-a-Dale, including a concise discography.

This blog has been mentioned (and praised) on several forums and websites down the years. Only this week I was informed that Phil Rose, the actor who played Friar Tuck in the classic TV series Robin of Sherwood highly recommends this site!

A big THANK YOU to everyone for making this blog such a success! Thanks also to the 205 followers of Disney's 'Story of Robin Hood' on Facebook. I am looking forward to completing the next 800 posts!

Nottingham's Robin Hood Statue

The duplicate statue of Robin Hood

Like many I have visited the statue of Robin Hood at Nottingham Castle. But have you ever wondered who created it? Or the history behind it? Did you also know there are now two of them?

Four months after the premier of Walt Disney's film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, the city of Nottingham, unveiled a statue to their world famous outlaw, by the castle walls, in the presence of the Duchess of Portland.

James Woodford working on his statue of Robin Hood

The ceremony took place on July 24th 1952 on Castle Green, in a specially landscaped area at the foot of Castle Rock, in the remains of the old moat, by local architect Cecil Howitt. The seven foot statue, including four bas-relief plaques were a gift to the city, by local businessman Philip E. Clay and was designed and cast out of half a ton of bronze, one inch thick, by Royal Acadamician, James Woodford (1893-1976) in his studio at Hampstead. 

The Robin Hood statue today at Nottingham Castle

Woodford was the son of a lace designer and was born in Nottingham. He attended the Nottingham School of Art and after military service during the First World War he trained at the Royal College of Art in London.

A year after his statue of Robin Hood was unveiled at Nottingham Castle, James Woodford RA was commissioned to carve a set of ten heraldic figures out of Portland Stone, to be placed at the entrance of Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. These heraldic beasts were selected from the armorial bearings of her royal ancestors and can be seen today along the walkway between Palm House and the pond at Kew Gardens.

The bronze statue of Robin has now been copied by experts of Nottingham University and the replica has recently been flown to China as a gift to Nottingham's twinned city - Ningbo.