Joan Rice March 1952

Joan Rice in a rare publicity picture taken in March 1952 for the forthcoming release of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.

Interesting to see the Mickey Mouse figure in Robin Hood costume, ‘whispering’ in Joan’s ear. Although the ‘medieval' Mickey character might have been designed for the premier of the live-action film, he was probably left-over from the animated feature Mickey And The Beanstalk in 1947.

Robin Hood's Chair

Over the last few years interest in my Disney's Story of Robin Hood Facebook page has been growning and there are now 41 members. One new member, Brian Varaday, has recently sent me another example of the use of what has become known as Robin Hood's Chair.

Brian has very kindly sent me a still from the movie The Dark Avenger (1955) which not only starred Errol Flynn, but also involved many people that would have been familiar with the chair when it was first used in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952). Peter Finch, Michael Hordern, Ewen Solon, Guy Green, Alex Bryce and Charles Beard.

The original chair used in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952)

The chair used in TV's Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1960)

A few years ago I was given the complete box set of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1960) on DVD. It was during watching one of the first episodes of this wonderful classic TV series that I noticed a familiar piece of furniture, in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s chamber. It was a distinctive, highly decorated chair, with a circular headrest and pineapple decorated top.
I was sure I had seen it before-It couldn’t be could it?

I immediately paused the DVD and quickly grabbed my illustrated book of Disney’s Story of Robin Hood - I was right, it was the same chair!

This extremely elaborate and colourful chair designed by Carmen Dillon and her art department in 1951 for Walt Disney’s Technicolor movie had found its way to Nettlefold Studios and the set of the groundbreaking black and white TV series starring Richard Greene in 1955.

As a young lad, these two versions of the Robin Hood were hugely influential and remain my two favourite interpretations of the legend. So you can imagine my surprise when I recently found, what I believe to be that very same chair, appearing thirty years later in another favourite of mine, HTV’s excellent Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986)!

The chair used in Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986)

I made a few enquires about this remarkable coincidence and received this message from a member of the Britmovie forum:

“I think it’s quite normal for props and costumes and even whole sets to be used in other films over the years, studios normally had their own prop stores and there are also several large independent prop hire companies around London that have been on the go for years. I remember visiting one in Acton many years ago while helping a friend find some props for a theatre production; it was like an Aladdin’s cave with the proprietor cheerfully pointing out what other famous plays some of the props had been used for in the past.”


"I guess most of the props these days are located in private rental firms. In the old days before studios went four walls they contained huge prop departments on site. I know Pinewood had a massive prop dept so it’s not unusual for the same prop to pop up in many films and are now privately owned. I know when MGM Borehamwood closed they flogged a lot off in a huge auction and many went down the road to Elstree."

The chair used in Men of Sherwood (1954)

A regular blog visitor kindly sent me stills of the chairs from the Story of Robin Hood  also being used in Men of Sherwood Forest (1954). This was the first of a trilogy of Robin Hood features made by Hammer Film productions and also their first colour movie. Recently some critics have described it as the possibly the worst sound film about the outlaw ever made, although American actor Don Taylor gives a good performance as Robin Hood and Reginald Beckwith is an excellent Friar Tuck in this low budget romp.

So there we are, what I like to call ‘Robin Hood’s Chair’ has appeared in all three of my all-time favourite Robin Hood productions.

Men of Sherwood (1954)

The various chairs from the Story of Robin Hood used in Men of Sherwood.

If anybody reading this, knows if that chair and other movie props from Disney's Story of Robin Hood are still stored away somewhere, please get in touch. I think that chair would look just great in my front room!


I will be laying down my quill for a couple of weeks as I am off on Holiday.

I would like to say a big thank you to Neil and Mike, my regular contributors, for their continued support.

If you enjoyed the film, have any information about the making of it, or are interested in the remarkable legend of Robin Hood, you are welcome to get in touch at, in the Guest Book or in the Comments at the bottom of the page. It would be great to hear from you, so please do!

The Whistling Arrows are always looking for new members, so just click on the Label ‘The Whistling Arrows’ and answer the ten questions to become a unique member of this merry band.

Adele has been in touch to say her ‘Robin Hood’ gig with Wrens Song went well at the St. Louis Festival of Nations, which is great news. Well done Adele!

Finally, don’t forget that every post has a ‘Label’ (e.g. Robin Hood Ballads, Joan Rice, Sherwood Forest) so to see all the pages about a subject, just click on the particular ‘Label’ at the bottom of the page or in the right hand column.

See you soon.

Robyn and Gandelyn

Historians often slip into their various tomes on Robin Hood, the ‘ballad’ Robyn and Gandelyn and then try to dismiss it; by saying that ‘no way can the Robyn of the lyric be identified with the outlaw Robin Hood.’ But I feel it cannot be ruled out-but more on that later. In the meantime let’s look at this controversial and enigmatic tale.The unique manuscript dated from about 1450 was preserved in the Sloane MS 2593 and was first published by Joseph Ritson in 1790, and has been reprinted many times since. Francis. J. Child in his monumental English and Scottish Ballads (1858) (Vol. III, pp.12-13) pointed out that in regards to Robyn and Gandelyn, 'thought is free'. Child also goes on to quote Thomas Wright in his Songs and Carols, who remarks on the similarity of the name Gandelyn to Gamelyn in the tale assigned to the Cook in some manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales, and on the resemblance of the ‘Tale of Gamelyn’ to the Robin Hood story.
Walter Skeat (Oxford, 1893, p. ix) believed that the Robyn of this poem was Robin Hood, and that Gandeleyn is a mere corruption of Gamelyn from the Tale of Gamelyn. Douglas Gray, in his The Robin Hood Poems (1984) just described the ‘carol’ as ‘mysterious and evil’.
Below is a modern translation:


Robin lies in the greenwood wrapped in a shroud.
I heard the singing of a clerk,
All at the yonder wood's end,
Of good Robin and Gandelyn;
There was no other company.
Strong thieves those children were not,
But bowmen good and honorable;
They went to the woods to get some meat,
If God would send it to them.
All day went those children two,
And flesh they did not find,
Until it was again evening;
The children desired to go home.
Half a hundred of fat fallow deer
They came upon,
And all were fair and fat enough,
And blemishes there were none;
"By dear God," said good Robin,
"Of these we shall have one."
Robin bent his jolly bow,
Therein he set an arrow;
The fattest deer of all,
Its heart he cleft in two.
He had not flayed the deer,
Not half out of the hide,
When there came a shrewd arrow out of the west,
That felled Robin's pride.
Gandelyn looked east and west,
Be every side:
"Who has slain my master?
Who has done this deed?
I shall never go out of the greenwood
Till I see his sides bleed."
Gandelyn looked east and looked west,
And sought under the sun;
He saw a little boy
They call Wrennok of Donne.
A good bow in his hand,
A broad arrow therein,
And four and twenty good arrows,
Tied in a bundle:
"You beware, beware,
You shall have some of the same.
"Beware, beware, Gandelyn,
Of this you will get plenty.
""Ever one for another," said Gandelyn;
"Misfortune have he who should flee."
"Where shall our mark be?"Said Gandelyn.
"Each at the other's heart,"
Said Wrennok again.
"Who shall give the first shot?" Said Gandelyn:
"I shall give the one before."Said Wrennok again.
Wrennok shot a full good shot,
And he shot not too high;
Through the clothes of his breeches,
It touched neither thigh.
"Now you have given me one before,"
All thus to Wrennok he said,
"And through the might of our Lady
A better one I shall give you."
Gandelyn bent his good bow,
And set therein an arrow;
He shot through his green kirtle,
His heart he cleft in two.
"Now shall you never boast,
At ale nor at wine,
That you have slain good Robin,
And his knave Gandelyn."
"Now shall you never boast,
At wine nor at ale,
That you have slain good Robin,
And Gandelyn his servant."

Robin lies in the greenwood wrapped in a shroud.

No matter how many times I read this ballad- or carol as it sometimes called, I see something different in it. There is certainly an intoxicating mixture of elements. I love it. It takes us right back to our medieval past and possibly earlier. There are many who link it with the ancient ritual of hunting the Wren. Robert Graves (English and Scottish Ballads, 1957, pp. 149-50) thought that: 'Although this seems to be a ballad about Robin Hood the Archer, its real subject is the ‘New Year's hunting of the wren in vengeance of the robin murdered at midsummer'

The ‘Annual Wren Hunt’ is an ancient tradition wrapped in folk-lore and mythology, best described thus:

“At Yule, the Robin, symbolic of the waxing year, Kills the Wren, the bird symbolic of the waning year, A wren used to be sacrificed at midwinter solstice. It would be carried on a bed of holly and taken from house to house to ask for money. (To bury the wren) meaning to bury winter.”

So the wren was the symbol of the old year, a tradition that has possibly descended from Celtic mythology, killed by the robin, representing the new year. In Ireland, the men would hunt the wren on St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas. Christian legend said that the wren gave away the Christian martyr, St. Stephen as he hid in the furze from the Jews. This mythological association with treachery is a probable reason why in past times the bird was hunted by Wrenboys on St. Stephen's Day.

The boys would chase down the birds, beating them from bushes with long sticks and general carousing. Once the bird was dead, the boys would carry it around the town, singing. The song, of which there are many variations, asked for donations from the townspeople. Often, the young men gave a feather from the bird to patrons for good luck. The money was used to host a dance for the town, held that night. The Wren was then put on top of a pole which was decorated with ribbons, wreaths, and flowers and was the centre of the dance.

So in this haunting ritualistic piece I believe we can not only see glimpses of our ancient past, but also-from the shrouded ‘ good and honorable’ Robin, poaching deer in the forest with his ‘jolly bow’ -we also witness the evolution of the legend of the outlaw Robin Hood.
What do you think?

Russell Crowe - Too Merry, But Kind To Those In Need!

According to the press Russell Crowe has been making a little too ‘merry’ in the taverns near to where the forthcoming £200 million Robin Hood epic is being filmed. It seems that the film star has been banned from The Brickmakers pub in Windlesham, Surrey.

A local resident reported that Crowe offered money to be allowed to keep drinking after closing time, but he was refused. According to a duty manager he eventually left, but not before smashing a plate on the way out. Crowe was told never to return!

This apparently is not the only local pub the Hollywood star has been barred from-at least two other drinking establishments in the area have ‘outlawed’ the next Robin Hood!

But like the hero of legend, Russell Crowe has been extremely kind to the people in need and reports of a big charity donation have made the local newspapers. Julia Deane, the branch manager of the Cancer Research shop in Sunningdale, Berkshire, said Crowe had been drinking in a cafe next door then decided to come in and take a look around. He asked a volunteer how he could go about making a donation. She took him to the back of the store and he kindly gave the very generous sum of £1,000. But the volunteer hadn’t recognised the Hollywood star, so she asked what name she could put into the donation book. When he replied ‘Crowe’, she asked: ‘As in Russell Crowe?’

Then the penny dropped!

Locals say that Russell Crowe was furious after news of his charity donation was leaked to the press, but Cancer Research UK said his publicity agents had approved the gesture being made public.

To read more about Russell Crowe and the filming of the new blockbuster ‘Nottingham’ please click on the label Robin Hood Movies.