The East Midlands is formed by the following counties:
Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire,
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.
On the flat Lincolnshire
Fens, man made features take on a special significance.
Every church spire is a landmark, windmills stretch their arms on
far off horizons and the red brick tower of Tattershall
Castle is visible for miles.
Below the ever changing skies the landscape wears a coat of many
colours – the shimmering gold of cornfields, the rich green of vegetable crops, the vivid yellow of oilseed rape
and in spring, the many hued patchwork of the tulip fields.
Lincolnshire (and the East Midlands) is not all fenland,
In the west runs the limestone ridge of Lincoln Edge and above a gap pierced by the River Witham stands Lincoln
– a queen of cities with a cathedral as its golden crows.
To the east are the peaceful hills of the
Wolds, beloved by Lord Tennyson whose model for his poem Maud lived at Harrington
The Wolds descend to marshland and a breezy coastline, with wildlife havens at the Gibraltar Point
and Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Nature Reserves and
the historic seaport of Boston whose famous “Stump” has guided fenland travellers, sailors
and the airman of the Second World War.
The romance of outlawry still clings the
Castle Rock in Nottingham, among the remains of the great medieval fortress that housed
the Sheriff of
Nottingham and Prince John, opponents
of Robin Hood; one of the legends of the East
Midlands. But though the city below the castle and the county
around it, still cherish their legends, they are built on the realities of a textile industry that dates back
to the 13th century.
The history of Nottingham lace, hosiery and
knitwear and of other local industries, can be traced in
museums in Nottingham and at Wollaton Hall and Ruddington.
The writer D.H. Lawrence, raised in the pit village of
Eastwood, reflects one aspect of the country in his
In contrast, Lord Byron, writing poetry and spending beyond
his means amid the decaying splendour of Newstead Abbey, has
become a figure of romance to rival the hero of Sherwood Forest.
The rocky grandeur of the Peak
District seems to dominate Derbyshire, but this
county of the East Midlands is softened by ravishing stretches of green, such as Dovedale with its sparkling river.
The harnessing of water power gave Derbyshire a leading role in
the Industrial Revolution and this is recalled today at
Cromford Mill – where Richard
Arkwright built his cotton town – and at Derby Industrial
Museum. Trains and trams have their own shrines at the Midland
Railway Centre and the National Tramway
Out in the countryside, natural wonders range from the heights of Black Rock and High Tor grounds to
the depths of fantastic caverns such as Blue John and
Treak Cliff, where the beautiful translucent mineral called Blue
John is found.
Above ground, stately homes such as Hardwick Hall and Melbourne Hall
maintain their grandly aristocratic atmosphere.
The East Midlands is home to the shire called the
Heart of England: Leicestershire, a county of broad, rich,
rolling landscapes. It is a small county, but packed with surprising and varied number of attractions, including
four castles, three railway museums, a zoo and a famous
It includes the county of Rutland that was incorporated in
Leicestershire from 1974 to 1997, when the local Government Commission decided it was to be and independent county
Rutland always refused to lose its identity and still gave its names to attractions such as
the Rutland Railway Museum,
Rutland Farm Park and Rutland Water Narure Reserve.
Leicester is the county town and an industrial city, but its
ancient roots can still be seen in the 14th century Guildhall and at the
Wall, built when Leicester was the Roman city of Ratae Coritanorum. In contrast Oakham is a quiet little market town with a noble 12th century
hall. In a county still
renowned both for farming and for hunting, it is not surprising to find in Northamptonshire an abundance of
great houses and estates. Rockingham Castle has weathered the passage of time as royal
Norman fortress, medieval castle, Tudor mansion and Victorian country house.
Southwick Hall and Boughton House are also medieval survivors, while the prosperity of Elizabethan
times gave rise to Althorp, Canons Ashby, Kirby Hall,
Holdenby House and Sulgrave
Fine hides produced in the county made Northampton
England’s shoemaking centre, as the town’s
Museum of Leathercraft shows.
The shire’s rural beauty is the setting for recreational parks at
Lilford and Wicksteed. As a central English shire,
Northampton had its share of ironstone to feed its once
thriving steel industry, which are recalled at Hunsbury Hill
Industrial Museum. It was also at the hub of England’s inland
waterway system, whose story is told in the Waterways Museum at
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