Ezekial Bone – Guts & Gore in Nottingham
Forewarned by Carol that we were in for a grisly tale, 18 DonMoggers gathered at the Cross Keys pub in central Nottingham – just across the road from the Weekday Cross. After lunch, we assembled outside to meet our guide for the afternoon – Ezekial Bone who styles himself as an “actor / historian”.
From his perch on the steps of the Weekday Cross, Ezekial Bone talked of the earliest history of Nottingham which began in the 6th century as a small settlement called Snotta inga ham. The Anglo-Saxon word ham meant village. The word inga meant ‘belonging to’ and Snotta was a man. So its name meant the village owned by Snotta. Gradually its name changed to Snottingham then just Nottingham. It was inevitable that sooner or later Nottingham would grow into a town as it is the first point where the Trent can be forded but the river is also navigable this far inland.
In the late 9th century, the Danes conquered North East and Eastern England. They turned Nottingham into a fortified settlement or burgh. The Danes are the reason that there are many Nottingham streets named “Gate” – originating from the Norse word “gata” for “a road or way” and traceable back to 867AD when the Danes arrived in Snottingham.
We then strolled on to the Nottingham Contemporary gallery where the external features of the building, including its references to the lace industry, were pointed out to us. A short walk took us into a pub – the Pitcher and Piano – which was used as a place of worship for Unitarians until 1982. It was then converted into the Nottingham Lace Museum, but this venture proved financially unviable. The building was then converted to its current use, as a Pitcher and Piano public house. We were there to see the stained glass windows.
As we started to explore, our guide took great delight in explaining all the macabre happenings of the area. From fatal crowd surges (at a hanging) to the “Hangers On” and other commercially astute spectators at public hangings, we heard many a gory yarn.
Our tour took us past the Courts of Justice, pointing out spelling mistakes as we went and on to St Mary’s Churchyard. Here, we were regaled with tales of landslips exposing coffins together with gruesome murders.
Onwards into the Lace Market area where we learnt about the history of the area and how it changed over the years until recently becoming the Nottingham Creative Quarter. We explored elegant Lace Warehouses and onwards to Hockley, pausing at The Angel pub (& Microbrewery) where our tour ended near the site of the first ever Boots.
With grateful thanks to Carol Wood for organising a brilliant excursion.
Your humble scribe, Paul Fileman.