On the final day of our stay in Nottingham we were keen to visit the City of Caves, an underground tour of the maze of over 500 sandstone caves underneath the streets of Nottingham, dating back to the dark ages.
Located in the upper mall of Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre, we arrived for our tour fifteen minutes before as instructed and were fitted with our hard hats, briefed about the safety regulations, and right on time we headed down the stairs into the caves. The children were a little nervous at first, I think it’s quite overwhelming when you’re small to head underground, especially as the lighting is quite dim.
Down in the caves the tour leader talked us through the history of these underground dwellings and stories of how they were used for housing as early as the 11th century, and troglodytes were certainly recorded in the 17th century. Many were inhabited until 1845, when the St. Mary’s Enclosure Act banned the rental of cellars and caves as homes for the poor, though the practice doubtless continued underground!
The area was originally known as Tiggua Cobaucc, meaning ‘Place of Caves’, and the first extant reference to Tiggua Cobaucc was in The Life Of King Alfred, by Welsh monk and historian, Asser, the Bishop of Sherborne, who visited Nottingham around 900 AD.
The tour took us through the only medieval tannery with a great performance from one of the “tanners” telling us all about life down there and interacting with the crowd. I loved seeing the children’s reactions to this and how they truly believed this lady lived down in the caves. I found it fascinating to learn more about something I knew very little about.
We were also met by the “air-raid warden”, who was a great character and told us all about what happened during the war and showed us around the underground air-raid shelter.
Towards the end of the caves we were left to explore at our own leisure and the children loved taking their time to look at the displays, tick off the items on their check lists, and really make the most of our experience.
I was so impressed with the City of Caves tour and how it appealed to both adults and children. Often I find this kind of thing is hard for young children to really understand but with the use of actors and the fantastic set-up within the caves, I feel as though we all learned so much!
We loved our visit underground and it was the perfect ending to our week in Nottingham to see not only what Nottingham had to offer above the ground, but beneath our feet too! I can’t recommend it enough and would definitely do the tour again on our next trip with Gaz and Lewis in tow!
You can find our more on the website here.
** We were invited to the City of Caves tour in exchange for our review. All words and opinions are my own. **