Gotham village is situated in between Kingston on Soar and Clifton, nicknamed “The Village of Legends.”
Gotham village is pronounced goat-em, stemming from “goat town”, the pronunciation goth-am was adopted for Batman and first mentioned in a story entitled ‘Cityscape’ written by Dennis O’Neill in The Batman chronicles, as we will explain later.
One of the main early legends associated with the village is, ‘The Wise Men of Gotham.’ Because of this legendary tale, Washington Irving gave the name “Gotham” to New York City in his Salmagundi Papers in which he lampooned New York City.
It was in the November 11, 1807, issue that Irving first attached the name “Gotham” to New York City, which was based on the alleged stupidity of the people of Gotham, Nottinghamshire.
Gotham, Village of Legends and The Three Wise Men
It is said that King John intended to travel through the area and made his intentions known. It was law at that time that any road the king intended to use must be made into a highway first.
Now the villagers did not want a highway to go through their village and King John himself was not particularly liked, (remember he is the villain in the legend of Robin Hood) and so the people of the village planned to find a way to stop King John ’s men from arriving.
When the King’s messengers arrived the people of Gotham feigned madness by taking part in some crazy antics. One such act seen and documented by the messengers as a group of villagers fencing off a small tree to keep a cuckoo captive from the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Another group were said to be trying to drown an eel in a pool of water and some were rolling cheeses down a hill hoping they would reach Nottingham to sell. All this is documented in the 1874 edition of Blount’s Tenures of Land.
Now considering at this time, insanity was thought to be quite contagious, King John decided not to come near the place with the very thought of this contagion of idiomatic behaviour and he had his hunting lodge built elsewhere.
So, the cunning plan was successful and the wise men boasted, “We ween there are more fools pass through Gotham than remain in it. The tales were quite famous and immortalised in many books including The Merie Tales of the Mad Men of Gottam, published in 1565. The tale has also been published in a Mother Goose rhyme.
“Three wise men of Gotham,
They went to sea in a bowl,
And if the bowl had been stronger
My song would have been longer.”
Batman and Gotham City
The most interesting and more popular use of the name Gotham, again linked with the insanity of the villagers in the Three Wise Men tale, was by Bill Finger in naming the home of Batman, Gotham City.
The existence of Gotham, Nottinghamshire in the DC Universe was the Gotham in England first mentioned in a story called Cityscape, written by Dennis O’Neill in The Batman Chronicles #6 in 1996, A villain plotting murder explains how the Gotham of the Batman universe was created.
The villain is plotting to build an asylum in the forest outside the town of Bludhaven, and is coercing an innocent man to help him, he proposes to call the asylum Gotham after “after a village in England where, according to common belief, all are bereft of their wits”.
Mentioned again in 2006, Justin Gray wrote about the King John story, (or as we know it, “The Wise Men” Story) in Legends of the Dark Knight #206, saying that his couriers “found lunatics running wild in the streets” when they arrived in the village of Gotham.
But how did the Batman stories start being set in the city of Gotham? The Batman stories began in 1939 in issue #27 of Detective Comics, and in issue #29 the city was only referred to as a teeming metropolis, but by #31 it was defined as New York city, later the name was changed to Gotham City by the Writer, Bill Finger who, and I quote, said ‘that he changed the name to Gotham after looking through a phone book and seeing the name Gotham Jewelers.’
Batman is connected to Gotham in Nottinghamshire by DC Comics and their explicit mention of the Nottinghamshire village in the publications and although New York city and Gotham village have not been twinned, the former mayor of New York sent a letter wishing Gotham well and acknowledged the link between the two places.
Rudolph Giuliani wrote that it was “a pleasure to have this opportunity to acknowledge the cultural and historical link” between the two places.
Batman is also connected to Wollaton hall in Nottingham through the filming of ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ The blockbuster movie was released in 2012 and while filming on location in 2011 around and inside Wollaton hall, it was closed to the public.
Knowledge of the film location quickly spread and was quite exciting for us locals knowing that the park and hall was being used for a major film location. I feel that it was a perfect fit for Wayne Manor to be filmed at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, not only does the hall have a grand presence as a mansion, but it is so close to the original Gotham. Just 5 miles North and where Gotham City got its name.
The hall even has caves below it, so how more perfect could it be for the location of Wayne Manor. The region is full of history and interesting villages too.
Kingston on Soar Village History
Kingston on Soar village is the next village on the Gotham road and lies within the Trent Washlands character area, and partially in the Nottinghamshire Wolds.
The River Soar does not actually run through the village, but we often start our walks near the river where it passes through Kegworth, the Soar is where the border of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire is found.
The Kingston on Soar brook runs through the village and is a beautiful relaxing location in summer.
Kingston Hall is the largest dwelling in the area and is a grade II listed country house, it was built 1842-46 for Mr Edward Strutt, who would later become the 1st Lord Belper.
There are many listed buildings in this little village including the lovely St Winifred’s Church which is also Grade I listed. There are 18 listed buildings and structures in this area, which include the village pump and a telephone kiosk.
The Church of St. Winifred in Kingston on Soar
A grade l listed church in the parish of Kingston on Soar and under the jurisdiction of Southwell and Nottingham diocese. part of an informal grouping of five churches that are known collectively as “The A453 Churches” as they straddle the A453.
The other churches in the group are: St. Lawrence’s Church, Gotham St. George’s Church, Barton in Fabis Holy Trinity Church, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, All Saints’ Church, Thrumpton.
The church has a two manual pipe organ by Wilkinsons of Kendal. installed here in 1936. It was originally installed in Holy Trinity Church, Mardale Green and that church was demolished as part of the Haweswater Reservoir construction scheme. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.
In the chancel aisle there is a copper plaque inscribed “The nave, aisle and tower of this church were erected and the chancel and chancel aisle restored A.D.1900 by Henry Lord Belper in memory of his son William Strutt born Feb.8th. 1875, died Oct.5th 1898”. I have found myself taking photos of St Winifreds Church so many times over the years and in different seasons, there’s something about it that I love, even though I’ve never been inside the church to take in the details, something I’d like to do one day.
Maybe in the summer I will have a little look around the church yard, where the tomb of the 1st Baron Belper is located. I’ve always liked the Lychgate and taken photos there while walking through the village which is also a Grade II listed structure.
The grade ll listed Hall is located on Gotham Road, Kingston-on-Soar, Nottingham, and was designed by the renowned architect Edward Blore, who was special architect to Queen Victoria. Edward had also worked on Windsor Castle and took over the completion of Buckingham Palace.
The hall was constructed in 16 acres of parkland using Derbyshire Ashlar stone that would have been brought to the site along the local canals, the river Soar and the newly-opened railway in the day. In 1916 Kingston Hall was the birthplace of Lavinia Mary Strutt, (later Lavinia Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of Norfolk,) daughter of Algernon Strutt, 3rd Baron Belper and his wife, Eva Strutt.
In Ronald Strutt, the 4th Lord Belper, sold the hall in 1976. The hall was divided into 12 apartments, occasionally one of these luxurious apartments become available on the market giving a property investor the chance to own a piece of this stunning grand mansion, all of the apartments are, as you’d expect very high specification and have original features, high ceilings and feature fireplaces.
The apartments even have use of the heated indoor swimming pool in the hall. Of course, the 16 acres of parkland with a multitude of mature trees including Spruce, Fir, Beech, Turkey Oak, Cedar of Lebanon and Wellingtonia, are also available to roam and enjoy.
The grounds contain three Grade II listed structures: a garden pavilion, a stable block and a lodge with an attached gateway too. What’s not to like. We’ve often admired the hall and estate from afar while walking beside the Kingston brook on summer days. ☺
The village of Kingston on Soar does not have a railway station, the closest station would be the East Midlands Parkway that opened in 2009 next to the Radcliffe on Soar power station.
There are some local bus services that link up to the local villages of Gotham, Kingston on soar, Kegworth and Sutton Bonnington with the park and ride tram services in Clifton, the NET trams link up with Nottingham and surrounding areas too.
We usually park in Kegworth village a couple of miles away and walk along some of the many public footpaths across the fields, most of these cross through farmers’ fields that become extremely muddy after it’s been raining and especially so in winter. Boots or Wellington boots are definitely needed for one of these country walks.
The nearby village of Sutton Bonnington is also home to a Nottingham University campus for agriculture and is a dairy farming study site, all set in 420 hectares of land.
Walks and relaxing
The great outdoors is a wonderful place to practice mindfulness, being in the moment, stopping to listen to bird song or the sounds of a babbling brook, on a warm summer evening it is lovely to just sit and watch the clouds and look for shapes in them, use your imagination.
There is a wide variety of walks around this area such as calm riverside and canal routes which I love, there’s trails across all manner of fields, muddy ones, meadows, and barley fields.
I enjoy the experience of noticing simple details when out walking, and it is great to find out more about the history of the little villages I pass through, that is why Kingston on Soar comes to mind. One favourite walk takes us through the village of Kingston on soar, and whatever the time of year or the weather we are experiencing I have always been inspired by this little place.
So small you can drive through in the blink of an eye and yet its charm brings us back time and time again. The history and interesting facts of the heritage in this cluster of villages always fascinates me along with the legends and heroes connected to them.