Myth of Robin Hood has special appeal to Sheffield 

During the 1980s South Yorkshire was dubbed the ‘People’s Republic of South Yorkshire’ due to its staunchly red colouring on an otherwise overwhelmingly blue map of Thatcherite Britain.

But perhaps this prevailing belief in ‘robbing the rich to feed the poor’ has much deeper roots. The Sheffield suburb of Loxley has been identified as the hometown of English folklore hero Robin Hood in many stories.

A pub sign for the old Robin Hood pub in the Loxley Valley

A pub sign for the old Robin Hood pub in the Loxley Valley

Perhaps the erstwhile Sheffielder frequented some of the city’s ancient pubs such as the Old Queen’s Head which can trace its origins back to 1475?

Unfortunately not, everyone’s favourite outlaw, his love interest Maid Marian, and his band of charismatic bandits are completely fictional.

The Sheriff of Nottingham was an actual title but there is no evidence that the holder at the time the stories are set, William de Wendenal, scooped out any hearts with cutlery.

However two characters in the many stories of Robin Hood certainly did exist - King Richard and King John; often celebrated and denigrated as the greatest and worst English kings respectively.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian are enduringly popular figures

Robin Hood and Maid Marian are enduringly popular figures

If modern voters are increasingly disaffected by what they see as a disconnected political elite, this didn’t seem to bother the English of the 12th century who worshipped King Richard, despite the fact he didn’t speak a word of English and spent only six months of his 10-year reign in England!

King John, on the other hand, signed Magna Carta, from which we can trace our freedoms today.

John, however, wasn’t too pleased about this as he was forced into signing by rebellious barons who were fed up with his corrupt, cruel and incompetent rule.

While he has subsequently gone down in history as a villain, John probably didn’t have much of a chance as his big brother Richard squandered all of England’s money on the Crusade and on paying a ransom when he was kidnapped on his way home from the Holy Land.

Did Robin Hood pop in for a pint at the Old Queen's Head?

Did Robin Hood pop in for a pint at the Old Queen's Head?

Richard even got a better nickname, the ‘Lionheart’, for his bravery on the Crusade; John was nicknamed ‘Lackland’ because he wasn’t given any land in his parents’ will.

The original creators of the Robin Hood legend were obviously also unsympathetic to the pitiful John as he was often cast as the villain.

Nevertheless, perhaps Sheffield should finally start claiming the leader of the Merry Men as its own.