A tour of old Nottingham - the English borough

This is a short photographic tour of Nottingham, from the Lace Market down to the Castle. We begin with the English borough on St Mary's Hill.


The Lace Market

Broadway, in the Lace Market area of NottinghamThe old Saxon borough of Nottingham originally grew up on the sandstone hill where St Mary's Church was later to be built. In the ninth century, the Danes and the Vikings overran Mercia and Nottingham became part of the Danelaw. After the Norman Conquest a new French community grew up around the Castle which had been built a little to the west, and Nottingham soon became a town of two boroughs, each with their own law courts and officials. (Two sheriffs were still being elected until as recently as 1835.) The English borough was fortunate to be largely left in peace, around its church of St Mary's. In the early nineteenth century, Nottingham developed into the largest lace-making centre in the world and enjoyed a period of prosperity. Many factories were built on St Mary's Hill to replace the grand town houses which had stood there, and the area became known as "The Lace Market".


St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church, NottinghamOne of the three medieval churches of Nottingham, situated in the middle of the Lace Market area. It was founded in Saxon times, rebuilt in 1175, and then completely rebuilt between 1375 (in the reign of Richard II) and 1475 - with a noble tower, splendid stone vaulting, and huge windows in a grand Perpendicular style to match the prosperity and confidence of that age. Inside are many fine tombs and wall memorials, and often exhibitions of works of art. It is the largest church in the city, and has long been the venue for civic occasions. Music is taken very seriously - there is a modern Marcussen organ dramatically displayed in the transept, and the choir is of a high standard.

Link to longer article about St Mary's
Link to St Mary's Church website


High Pavement

High Pavement, Nottingham, looking towards Weekday CrossHigh Pavement was one of the three medieval streets of Nottingham that were cobbled, the other two being (not surprisingly) Middle Pavement and Low Pavement, at a time when most streets were simply mud tracks. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many gracious residential properties were built on High Pavement and it became "an enchanting seat in the heart of the town". The picture shows the view looking away from St Mary's Church towards Weekday Cross and Middle Pavement, leading down to the French borough. The Cross was the site of a market from Saxon times onwards. On the left can be seen part of the Broadmarsh Centre, a memorial to the late sixties and early seventies when several fine old Nottingham buildings were demolished and the medieval street pattern completely disrupted by Maid Marian Way. The old medieval thoroughfare of Drury Hill was also destroyed during the construction of the Broadmarsh Centre, and only the activities of the Nottingham Hidden History Team helped to prevent many of the caves below the Centre from being irrevocably damaged.

Link to the French borough

St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997