The Wise Men of Gotham, Nottinghamshire
The village of Gotham just to the south of Nottingham has one of the jollier English folk legends attached to it, or rather several of them, which are known to have been around since at least the 15th century if not before.
What makes the Wise Men of Gotham wise is ironically portraying themselves as fools to get their own way, their goal being to avoid having to play host to King John . Royal visits to a great house and its surrounding area could ruin the inhabitants for a good time such were the enormous demands of court and king. Legend has it that the Gotham villagers acted stupidly every time a messenger came from King John (never the most popular of men anyhow) – a horse rider carrying grain sacks round his neck to spare his horse their weight; surrounding a cuckoo to try to extend the summer – until the stories the messengers related persuaded John to make his stay elsewhere. Acting the fool proved a wise choice, a fact celebrated by the villagers concluding that more fools passed through their settlement than lived in it. Other tales though paint a different picture, in one a notch cut on the boat from which a bell was dropped into a pool to keep it from invaders marking where the Wise Men could recover it later.
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