Council back campaign to bring Robin Hood legend alive in Sheffield

Sheffield Council chiefs are gathering ideas on how to 'bring Robin Hood home' and celebrate the historical legend's links with the region.

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 8:00 am
Circa 1400, A corpulent priest is tormented by a group of men, in one of the legends surrounding the outlaw Robin Hood. It is probably inspired by the ballad 'Robin Hood and the Bishop', with Robin wearing the red hat and wielding a staff. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Historians and locals have long known the world’s most famous outlaw, also known as Robin of Loxley, was born at Little Haggas Croft and spent most of his life roaming the former forests of Hallamshire.

But for decades neighbours Nottingham have taken the spotlight. Now - inspired by a campaign by Sensoria Festival and the Sheffield Hallam University-based Centre for Contemporary Legend - many are calling for the city to reclaim England's most famous folk hero.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: "I think it will inspire people and get them thinking and talking, connecting things and making the story come alive. Before you know it everyone will know he belongs to Sheffield."

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Re-enactment event at the Robin Hood and Little John Inn (also known as The Robin Hood), Greaves Lane, Little Matlock. Photo: Picture Sheffield.

Last year Sensoria and CCL created an app highlighting several key regional sites in Robin Hood’s story - including his birthplace, his hideout at Stanage Edge and the grave of his right hand man, Little John, in Hathersage. They told the tales through detailed descriptions, photographs and audio alongside an illustrated booklet that was published around the same time, and held outdoor film screenings in Storrs Wood.

The council is now keen to work with the group to bring other ideas to life - including a monument in Loxley Valley, markers at key spots which could be developed with augmented reality, walking tours and events.

Sensoria and CCL are already planning an ‘outlaw’s picnic’ in May to take place near Robin's birthplace.

Coun Iqbal said: “We used to have things like Darnall carnival (which stopped in the 1970s) and it was fantastic. The negativities we pick up is because we’re not interacting with each other.

Robin Hood's cave on Stanage Edge

"Having a celebration just brings people together, it’s as simple as that for me, anything that brings people citywide together has got to be positive - and regardless of your background if you mention Robin Hood anywhere it’s a name you can recognise.

"We’ve lost a lot of good stuff because we haven’t got the cash and need to look after our most vulnerable. If we can bring in everyone’s expertise for this it would be magical."

Wendy Ulyett, visitor economy marketing manager, said it would benefit not just residents but tourists too.

"Sheffield’s got lots of heritage strands and we haven’t capitalised on any of them so far but I think we’re getting to a position where we’re understanding more about what the opportunities can bring.

Re-enactment event at the Robin Hood and Little John Inn (also known as The Robin Hood), Greaves Lane, Little Matlock. Photo: Picture Sheffield.

“There’s an opportunity, if we want it, to really bring Robin Hood back into the Sheffield story."

Coun Iqbal said thanks to their work with the Outdoor City they recently recieved "quite a bit of cash" to turn Sheffield into an adventure weekend tourist city - which he said could tie in well with the Robin Hood legend.

Visit Nottinghamshire said the legend is one of their biggest drivers of tourism and the city hosts events all year round to recognise it.

Perhaps the biggest of these is the annual week-long Robin Hood festival held at Sherwood Forest that brings in around 40,000 visitors - an event that has been running for 35 years.

Little John's grave

Although, Sheffield Council is keen to establish Sheffield as his home and reach similar levels as Nottingham, they also want to avoid a battle.

Coun Iqbal said: "I can just imagine the new leader of Nottingham calling Julie Dore saying ‘are you trying to nick our USP?'

"I can understand where Nottingham is coming from but it’s about how we bring Nottingham on side with us. It’s about collaboration, not competition.

"It’s saying to Nottingham ‘help us write this narrative’. We don’t want it to be at the detriment of their tourism because we as a city have never been competing against any of our core cities - it’s about how we compliment each other.

“So, somebody could pick up a pamphlet and it could be a joint piece of work that tells the story - not about Sheffield or Nottingham - but about Robin Hood."

The next step is for the council and group to come together and start working on plans.

Little John's grave

If you have ideas about how to bring the legend alive in Sheffield, contact reporter Molly Williams at [email protected]

Sign to Little John's grave