ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, visceral as it may seem, following a lifetime of Batman movies, TV series' and comic-books, Gotham City isn't, sadly, a real place.

Try as we might, there's no actual hope of us being able to roll up to the Gotham PD in search of Commissioner Gordon, or hit up Wayne Manor for a cup of sugar/a spare batsuit. No matter how hard we wish, Arkham Asylum is, in reality, not an actual place - much as Batman, sadly, is simply a beloved cultural figure, as opposed to a real life superhero.

That being said, though...

There IS an Actual Place Called Gotham...and it's in Trouble

Y'see, while the City of Gotham only exists within the world of popular culture, the Village of Gotham, in the English county of Nottinghamshire, is very much a real place. Indeed, it's been a real place for a long, long time - since at least 1086, when it was first recorded in the Domesday Book, with a population of twenty families.

In recent times, though, the village - now filled with a bustling 1800 residents - has been experiencing some trouble, with a key community building (The Gotham Royal British Legion Building, part of a charity dedicated to supporting veterans) recently closing its doors due to financial problems, and looking likely to be privately redeveloped.

To stop that from happening, though, the residents of Gotham have turned to a pretty darned traditional source: Batman.


The Residents of Gotham are Looking to Batman (Fans) For Help

That's right - not only have the good people of Gotham launched a project to save their community center, Destination Gotham, but they've appealed to Bat-fans the world over the help save the building from development, and to turn it into a "community-run cafe and visitor hub where village archives can be stored and displayed".

Why, though, would Batman fans from all across the globe want to help out a small village in England, though?

Well, y'see:

The Village of Gotham is (Indirectly) the Reason Gotham City Has its Name

Yup, the sleepy Nottinghamshire village of Gotham is, via a series of unusual events, the reason Gotham City has its distinctive name.

It all started back in the early 1200's, when King John (of largely historically inaccurate Robin Hood villainy fame) was legendarily prevented from travelling through the village by its residents feigning madness. The reason for the deception? Were the King to travel through the village, the road going through it would be proclaimed a public highway (as all roads the King traveled on were), which the villagers were keen to avoid.

True or not, though, the story led to a popular folk saying, "There are more fools pass through Gotham than remain in it", which in turn inspired a nickname for the city of New York, reportedly coined by literary legend Washington Irving back in 1807.

Which, when it came time to give Batman's home town - heavily inspired by New York City - its name, seemingly led to Gotham City coming into cultural existence as a satirical take on the city's nickname. What's more, the village has even be referenced in Batman comic-books, suggesting that the DC-universe sees the two places as having an even more direct relationship:

And, so...

Batman Fans are Trying to Help the Village Out

As Steve Smith, of the Gotham Geeks Podcast, put it:

"I think that comic fans take their community seriously and I think if they have the opportunity to help the town that gave such an importance piece of the Batman universe its name, especially with all the press about Bill Finger lately, they’d be absolutely willing to help. The power of social media is incredible and if fans heard about something like this, they’d be willing to help out."

Whether or not you want to help out yourself, though - you can find more information right here if you do - it's certainly fascinating to think about the strange tale of a small English village, most famous for a plot involving feigned insanity that (may or may not have actually) happened eight hundred years ago, naming a major comic-book metropolis that's become world famous for its Bat-themed protector.

It's hard not to think The Joker would approve...

What do you reckon, though?

via The Guardian


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