History of The Travellers Rest and Mapperley Plains
During the 18th century, The Travellers Rest was known as “The Half Way House”, in recognition of its location between Nottingham and Calverton. The first licencee was a farrier, who would first furnish his customers with a pint of foaming nut brown ale, then re-shoe their horses while they refreshed themselves.
The most popular patrons of the pub were said to be geese herders, who would stop in for a rest on the way to the famous Nottingham Goose Fair. The fair has run more or less continuously for over 700 years – only the Great Plague of 1646 and the first and second World Wars have caused its postponement – and still takes place today. These days, however, you are much more likely to go there for candyfloss and a ride on the dodgems than you are to sell some geese!
Mapperley Plains takes its name from Thomas Mappurley, a wealthy MP who worked as a bailiff under the Sheriff of Nottingham before becoming Mayor of the city himself, before acquiring various lands in Nottinghamshire and Radford during the fourteenth century.
For centuries, Mapperley has been most synonymous with brick-making. The saying goes that “Nottingham once stood on Mapperley Hills”, meaning that the city was built on bricks fashioned from Mapperley clay. And as far back as 1682 there are records of clay-digging and kilns being used to fire bricks. Today it is estimated that a billion bricks have come from Mapperley hills, with some known to have travelled as far as London, even being used in the construction of St. Pancras Station.
The main stretch of Mapperley stands around 150 metres above sea level, and is known as Mapperley Ridge. With views out across the city of Nottingham, it was used as a vantage point by Oliver Cromwell and his troops when they launched attacks on Nottingham Castle during the English Civil War.
A couple of hundred yards south stands Alexandra Park, formerly Mapperley Hills Common, site of perhaps the most famous event in Mapperley’s history, “The Battle of Mapperley Hills”. On Tuesday 23rd August 1842, a peaceful demonstration of five thousand working men began in support of the Chartist movement.
Concerned about this civil unrest, local authorities ordered the police to intervene. The police stormed the protest, making up to 400 arrests and marching the prisoners off down Redcliffe Road in an attempt to disperse the crowds. They did not succeed, however, and by the time the procession had reached Mansfield Road, the police were being pelted with rocks and other missiles. It took the intervention of the 2nd Dragoons to restore order.
Ultimately, out of the 400 men arrested, only 50 would end up being prosecuted and the event is often commemorated as a celebration of civil rights.
Today, life in Mapperley Plains is much more sedate. Take Lambley Dumbles, a series of wooded valleys that form a trail through rolling meadows and patchwork pastures, behind our pub. You’d be hard pressed to find a more tranquil, idyllic part of the English countryside, yet it is just 8 miles from the hustle and bustle of Nottingham city centre.
And of course Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of Robin Hood, is just 30 minutes away too. While the forest once spanned a majestic 100,000 acres, today it’s a historic, 450-acre country park. Among the young birch trees, stands The Major Oak, with branches stretching out 100ft and a trunk measuring 33ft in circumference. It has taken some 900 years for this grand old tree to reach such astounding proportion – dating back to the reign of Henry I.
If you’re visiting Sherwood Forest, Bestwood Country Park, Mapperley Plains or the surrounding area, why not do what weary travellers have been doing for years - stop off at The Travellers Rest for a little refreshment. Today you can enjoy traditional pub food, delicious seasonal specials and relaxed Sunday roasts, or simply sip a glass of wine or a hand-pulled real ale.
You’ll find The Travellers Rest on Mapperley Plains close to Nottingham. Just tap NG3 5RT into your satnav.