The old market town of Mansfield is the second largest town in Nottinghamshire. Its name is taken from the river Maun that runs through it. It was once a dormitory for the surrounding coal mines but is now a centre for light industry and manufacturing.
Mansfield Town Hall overlooks the Market Place © TAB
Two key features of the town are its large Market Square, surrounded by interesting buildings, and a magnificent stone arched railway viaduct (built in 1875), which sweeps above the town between the market place and the Parish Church of St Peter. The church is of Saxon origin, which easily identifiable from the stonework of its great tower.
The town has been inhabited from the earliest times, as is indicated by a number of remarkable cave dwellings in Southwell Road, hewn directly out of the soft sandstone. Known locally as the Rock Houses, they were still occupied up until the late 19th-c.
A huge coat of arms looks down on the market place from the Moot Hall, on the Westgate corner. Built by the former Lady of the Manor Henrietta Cavendish Holles, in 1752, it is now a bank.
Regular markets are held in the square five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday).Street performances, fairs and regular events are held throughout the year. For details visit the Mansfield Council Website
The museum hosts permanent displays of natural, local and social history and information about the town's industrial heritage.
The art gallery holds a collection of watercolours of old Mansfield, painted by A. S. Buxton (a principal of the Mansfield School of Art). Also a good collection of Wedgwood and Rockingham Ware and displays of archive photographs, sculpture and embroidery.
The legendary vast forests of Robin Hood's era have gradually been felled over the last 200 years to make room for farmland. The remnants of the forest now stand far to the east of the town. The great centre tree of Sherwood Forest once stood in Westgate, outside the modern library, until it was felled in the 1940s. A plaque now marks the spot where it once stood.
Around 450 acres still survive, making Sherwood one of largest areas of remaining ancient oak woodland in western Europe. There is a good network of wide and level way-marked pathways and the main trail from the visitor centre leads to the Major Oak, some 30ft (9 metres) in circumference. It is claimed that Robin Hood's outlaws once hid in its hollowed-out centre. However, as the tree is only 500 years old, it could not have existed during the 11th-c.
A public entrance to the forest can be reached from the B6034, where there is a visitor centre and ample parking.