Robin Hood was from Kent not Sherwood Forest: experts

Robin Hood was from Kent not Sherwood Forest: experts

Robin Hood was from Kent not Sherwood Forest: experts

The real-life inspiration for Robin Hood - the heroic outlaw in English folklore - lived near Tunbridge Wells and not the royal Sherwood Forest, known for its association with the legendary figure, experts claim.

Legend has it that Robin Hood robbed from the rich to give to the poor, resisted "bad" King John and hid out in Sherwood Forest.

However, a new study by historian Sean McGlynn suggests Robin Hood actually preyed on French invaders, fought in support of the King and came from near Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, 'The Telegraph' reported.

McGlynn, an academic at the University of Plymouth and the Open University, has amassed evidence suggesting Robin Hood is based on William of Kensham, a largely forgotten 13th century forest bandit.

McGlynn investigated the life and career of the renegade, using medieval chronicles, and unearthed remarkable parallels with the folk hero, including his tactics, his band of men, his forest hideout and his popular acclaim.

Interestingly, William was living at just the time when the Robin Hood legend is believed to have emerged.

There have been other contenders put forward by historians as the inspiration for Robin Hood, but none have been universally accepted and the exact source of the legend has been fiercely contested.

McGlynn, a specialist in medieval history, has also analysed these alternative candidates and believes William's claim is by far the strongest, dismissing the rivals as "squalid criminals".

William is the only one to have wielded a longbow, the weapon most associated with Robin Hood, the report said.

His claim to be the inspiration for Robin Hood rests on his daring ambushes against an invading force under Prince Louis of France in 1216 and 1217.

William and his band of 1,000 men had taken to the forests of the Kentish Weald - the area between the North and South Downs - after the French invaded southern England at the invitation of barons opposing King John.

They became skilled at raiding the French forces and McGlynn believes they may have returned property which had been stolen from the locals, giving rise to the legend that Robin Hood robbed the rich to give to the poor.