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"Notts," as Nottinghamshire is known, lies in the heart of the East Midlands. Its towns are rich in folklore, and many have bustling markets. A number of famous people have come from Nottingham, notably those 13th-century outlaws from Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and his Merry Men. It also was home to the Romantic poet Lord Byron; you can visit his ancestral home at Newstead Abbey. D. H. Lawrence, author of Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley's Lover, was born in a tiny miner's cottage in Eastwood, which he later immortalized in his writings.

Nottingham

195km (121 miles) N of London; 116km (72 miles) SE of Manchester

Though an industrial center, Nottingham is a good base for exploring Sherwood Forest and the rest of the shire. Nottingham is known to literary buffs for its association with author D. H. Lawrence and its medieval sheriff, who played an important role in the Robin Hood story.

It was an important pre-Norman settlement guarding the River Trent, the gateway to the north of England. Followers of William the Conqueror arrived in 1068 to erect a fort here. In a later reincarnation, the fort saw supporters of Prince John surrender to Richard the Lion-Hearted in 1194. Many other exploits occurred here -- notably Edward III's capture of Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella, the assassins of Edward II. From Nottingham, Richard III marched out with his men to face defeat and his own death at Bosworth Field in 1485.

With the arrival of the spinning jenny in 1768, Nottingham was launched into the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. It's still a center of industry and home base to many well-known British firms, turning out such products as John Player cigarettes, Boots pharmaceuticals, and Raleigh cycles.

Nottingham doesn't have many attractions, but it's a young and vital city, and is very student-oriented thanks to its two large universities. Its Hockley neighborhood is as hip as anything this side of Manchester or London. A look at one of the alternative newspapers or magazines freely distributed around town can connect you with the city's constantly changing nightlife scene.