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Robin Who? British Folklore could be in danger of dying out within a generation

Press Release   •  Jun 22, 2017 11:54 BST

Children master their skills at the Robin Hood and Little Johns Archery session

Tales that form the backbone of British culture and heritage might never be heard again, as research reveals that nearly a quarter of the nation (24%) can’t name even one story from folklore.

The study into the future of traditional British folklore was commissioned by Center Parcs as it celebrates 30 years at Sherwood Forest – famous home of the legendary hero Robin Hood. The findings revealed that, when presented with a list of folklore stories, 80% of people are familiar with Robin Hood – probably thanks to the many films based on him - however similar tales are set to be forgotten within a generation.

The future doesn’t seem any brighter for folklore in generations to come, as almost two thirds (64%) of people say they don’t intend to pass on the stories to their own children. One in five of us (20%) can’t remember the tales to retell them, which may contribute towards the problem.

This is despite two thirds (66%) of people saying they believe traditional stories, myths, and legends help develop children’s imaginations, and almost half (45%) thinking they help teach our children valuable lessons.

Furthermore, 7 in 10 strongly believe folklore still plays a part in our society, with over half (55%) of British people saying the stories inspire the best literature, television and films – such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.


Colin Whaley, Marketing Director, Center Parcs said:

“Storytelling is a great way to bring families together, sharing tales with one another and bonding as they re-live family favourites. In the year that we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our arrival in Sherwood Forest – the home of folklore ‘celebrity’ Robin Hood – we’re particularly sad to hear that the future of folklore is in jeopardy. We want to help people re-discover tales they might have forgotten, not only keeping the legendary history of our nation alive, but also helping to encourage special family time sharing the almost forgotten art of verbal storytelling.”

In response to the findings, Center Parcs has teamed up with The Folklore Society to create a Folklore Map of Britain. Showcasing some of the most accessible and famous legends from across the nation, the map aims to remind the public of tales they may have forgotten and to encourage families to tell these once famous stories to one another again.

Jeremy Harte, British local lore expert, and committeemember of The Folklore Society, said:

“Countries aren’t just made up of rocks and rivers. They’re also made up of the stories we tell each other, about the places we know. There are stories about heroes and heroines like Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest and Lady Godiva in Coventry, tales of mermaids around the coasts, giant warriors on the mountains and hidden treasure in the earth. These tales give a special character to our homes, and poetry to our landscape.

“However, we’ve seen from this research that our rich folkloric tradition may be slipping through our fingers, which is deeply saddening and an issue we are passionate about tackling alongside Center Parcs. While there is a wealth of information about folklore on various tourist, council and heritage organisation sites, there clearly may be a decline in stories being passed from generation to generation in the traditional way. By curating this map, we hope to remind people of the fabled history in their local areas, and hope to see these stories re-told for generations to come.”

To find out more information and to view the interactive map, visit http://blog.centerparcs.co.uk/test-your-storytelling-skills/

*OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK adults, May 2017

The Folklore Society, which devised the map for Center Parcs, said

“This map shows only a fraction of the folklore embedded in the British landscape, but it gives some sense of the riches to be explored. It is designed to give a broad geographical sweep and a good variety of different kinds of local legends, creatures, events, and wonders. The stories chosen to be summarized were selected on the basis of several criteria: connection to famous story cycles, including those of King Arthur and Robin Hood; a broad range of different supernatural creatures; attachment to distinctive buildings or landscape features.”

About Center Parcs

  • Center Parcs has five villages across the UK; Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire
  • As the leader in the UK short break holiday market, Center Parcs regularly achieves average annual occupancy in excess of 97%.
  • Center Parcs offers weekend, (Friday to Monday) or midweek (Monday to Friday) breaks and welcomes more than 2.2 million guests each year, with 96% of guests expressing an intention to return
  • The Center Parcs concept is to provide a range of high quality accommodation, shops, restaurants and exceptional leisure facilities, carefully nestled amongst 400 acres of protected forest environment.
  • This concept originated in Holland in 1967, with the first UK Center Parcs opening in 1987. Center Parcs is now a separate entity in the UK.
  • Center Parcs has been announced ‘Best Family Friendly UK Holiday Provider’ in the Tommy’s Awards for the fourteenth year in a row.

About The Folklore Society

  • “The Folklore Society is a learned society based in London, devoted to the study of traditional culture in all its forms. One of the world’s earliest organisations established for the study of folklore, The Folklore Society has continuously published scholarly studies of folklore in both books and serials since 1878. Our journal Folklore is published in 4 issues a year with Taylor and Francis. As a registered charity, our aims are to foster the research and documentation of folklore worldwide, and to make the results of such study available to all, whether members of the Society or not, via our publications, conferences, lectures and library services. The Folklore Society has a substantial library of over 12,000 volumes held at University College London.” For more information, contact thefolkloresociety@gmail.com.