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April 2002
Nottingham's Pride
The right lion on Old Market Square

'The Right Lion on Old Market Square

Nottingham's Pride: The Old Market Square from the lions point of view.

Sarah Julian

In this programme, Nottingham’s infamous stone lions are given a voice to tell us about ‘their square’!

Clifton poet Lynn Adgar has written a special poem to allow the lions to tell us their story. The poem is read by one of the lions (played here by actor William Fitzgerald).

Listen to the poem (28k) (or read our text version)

Sarah Julian, A Sense of Place producer, explains why she decided to make a programme about these lions:

"When looking into the legend and folklore of our county, I was fascinated by the stories of the lions in ‘slab square’.

There’s the well known phrase ‘meet you by the lions’ a tradition which has gone on for generations.

It’s also said that the lions roar when a virgin passes!

Old Market Square
Old Market Square

The Old Market Square also interested me, the largest square in England, it hosts all kinds of visitors and workers, is the place for celebrations and commemorations and it feels different at different times of the day - so I decided the programme would look at the life of the square, from the lions point of view!"

How do people in Nottingham feel about lions, Sarah says she was surprised:

"When recording material for this programme I expected to come across plenty of stories about meeting by the lions, but what really surprised me was the warmth people felt towards these stone creatures, most had their own names for them and even thoughts on their characters."

Listen to people's thoughts about the lions (28k)

The lions introduce us to the characters of the square - the tour guide who knows their history and fill us in on the legends that surround the lions.

Margaret Harrison, blue badge tour guide for Nottingham insists they do roar "They’re practically as loud as Little John, the bell in the Council House."

Listen to Margaret Harrison talk about the lions (28k)

We hear from the people who remember the square before the lions arrived, the people who keep it clean, and the homeless who sleep under the watchful eye of the lions.

The Council House, Old Market Square
The Council House, Old Market Square

Dennis Ashcroft, a former security officer who sometimes spent up to 16 hours on the steps feels very strongly about the square. He says it’s a special place:

"It’s the rallying point for Nottinghamshire, it’s where people come when a tragedy happens, for me, it’s like the colours of a regiment."

Listen to Dennis Ashcroft's views of the square (28k)

The lions are probably best known as a place to meet your date - Cathy Phethean of Ruddington recalls "One time I was supposed to be meeting a boy by the lions, but I didn’t like the look of him so I walked straight past him."

These days, the tradition is still as strong, every Saturday night clusters of people surround the lions waiting for their dates.The programme brings the flavour of the square on a Saturday night.

Listen to Saturday night on Old Market Square (28k)

Nottingham's Pride: audio documentary
Listen to the audio documentary >>>

The ‘left lion’ and his ‘attendants’ invite you to join them for ‘Nottingham’s Pride’.

It will be broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham (95.5FM and 103.8FM) on Sunday 28th April 2002 at midday.

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Six documentaries that explore people’s connection with the county and what it is that makes Notts so special.

Nottingham's Pride: audio documentary

this story
audio 'Lion watching', a poem by Lynn Adgar, played by actor William Fitzgerald (28k)
audio People give us their thoughts on the lions (28k)
audio Margaret Harrison, Blue Badge tour guide, on lion tales (28k)
audio Dennis Ashcroft worked for many years on the steps of the council house, looking over the lions. He explains his attachment to the lions (28k)
audio The Old Market Square at night (28k)

Profile Nottingham: Old Market Square

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