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WHERE KINGS ONCE RELAXED(AND WHERE YOU CAN STAY TOO)

Recently Leicester has revamped one of its hotels to include a Richard III room. If you are on the road in the Midlands, perhaps visiting Nottingham Castle  (where Richard spent considerable time during his short reign and which is currently undergoing a rehaul of visitor facilities that should hopefully see more mention of Richard) another interesting place to consider staying is Bestwood Lodge, now a Best Western Hotel, which lies in Arnold,  just 4 miles outside Nottingham city centre.

An eerie Gothic Victorian structure, looking for all the world like something straight out of an Agatha Christie mystery novel, Bestwood stands in the middle of parkland with miles of walks radiating out from it.  Haunting and atmospheric, with tiled floors, spindly turrets, mock medieval statuary, ornate open fireplaces, and a rising central cupola, it has rooms dedicated to several of the kings who once stayed in the now-vanished royal hunting lodge lying buried deep beneath its foundations.

Richard III is one of the kings who visited Bestwood, and besides having a room named after him, he also is remembered in an ornamental plaque affixed to the wall in the ‘great hall’. It was at Bestwood, where Richard had retired to hunt in the forest, that he received the news that Henry Tudor and his forces had landed at Milford Haven.

A cross in the grounds near to the Lodge recounts the medieval history of Bestwood on its base:

BESTWOOD WAS FORMERLY A ROYAL RESIDENCE MUCH RESORTED TO BY THE EARLY ENGLISH KINGS FOR HUNTING IN SHERWOOD FOREST,/ EDWARD III, BY HIS LETTERS PATENT, DATED AT HIS PARK OF BESTWOOD 1st SEPTEMBER 37.E.3 (1364) PARDONED AND RELEASED CERTAIN/ RENTS ISSUING OUT OF “LINDEBY HAY AND BULLWELL RISE, TO THE PRIORY OF NEWSTEDE.” AND IN THE INQUISITION TAKEN AT St./ JOHN’S HOUSE, NOTTINGHAM.” THE FOURTH OF THE NONES OF JULY IN 35 HENRY III” (1251) BEFORE GEOFFREY LANGLEY, JUSTICE OF/ THE FOREST, IT IS CALLED A “HAY OR PARK OF OUR LORD THE KING WHEREIN NO MAN COMMONS” AND EARLIER STILL, KING HENRY 1st/ GRANTED TO THE PRIORY OF LENTON TO HAVE “TWO CARTS TO FETCH DEAD WOOD AND HEATH OUT OF BESCWOOD”. HENRY II, ABOUT 1160/ GRANTED THE CONVENT TO HAVE EVERY DAY “TWO CARTS OF THREE CARRETTS TO BRING THEM DEAD WOOD OR HEATH, AS MUCH AS THEY/ SHOULD NEED FOR THEIR OWN USE.” IN AUGUST 1485, ACCORDING TO THE “YORK CITY RECORDERS”, RICHARD III WAS AT BESKWOOD/ FOR THE PURPOSE OF HUNTING WHEN HE HEARD OF THE NEAR APPROACH OF HIS RIVAL HENRY TUDOR, AFTERWARDS HENRY VII./ THOROTON, WHO WROTE IN THE YEAR 1677, SAYS, IT, BESKWOOD HATH A VERY FAIR LODGE IN IT, AND IN RESPECT TO THE/ PLEASANT SITUATION OF THE PLACE, AND CONVENIENCY OF HUNTING AND PLEASURE THIS PARK AND LODGE HATH, FOR THESE MANY/ YEARS, BEEN THE DESIRE AND ACHIEVEMENT OF GREAT MEN.

Bestwood is also supposed to be haunted—but not by Richard. Rather, it is the mistress of Charles II, Nell Gwyn, who floats unseen through the hotel leaving behind the scent of fresh orange peel…

http://www.bestwoodlodgehotel.co.uk/information/history/

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2 thoughts on “WHERE KINGS ONCE RELAXED(AND WHERE YOU CAN STAY TOO)

  1. viscountessw on said:

    Great post. It brings back memories for me. In the late 1950s I lived in Hucknall, just north of Nottingham, and Bestwood was nearby. I was 15, and often cycled through Bestwood, over the hill and down to visit some friends in Arnold on the other side. I used a narrow track that in places led through some quite dense woodland that pressed right against the way, sometimes overhanging. All very well when the sun was bright and there was plenty of daylight left.

    But you know how it is at that age. Being with friends made the time pass a little more than it should have, so the shadows would be lengthening when I made the return trip. Well, halfway through the woodland, right against the road, there was a rather gloomy, dilapidated building of indeterminate age, and we called it the ‘hunting lodge’. The trees crowded around it, and woods can be awfully quiet and mysterious.

    From this distance, I can’t imagine it really was a hunting lodge, but that was what we believed at the time. It was spooky toward the end of a summer evening, when there was still an hour of cycling before the refuge of home. I couldn’t get past that building quickly enough, or down the hill into Bestwood. D.H. Lawrence? Who cared!

    I had no interest in Richard III back in those days. I even dropped history at ‘O’ level in favour of geography. How times do change.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Also, for those thinking of staying there, it is dog-friendly.

    Like

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