Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem
If you’ve heard the haunting and often gruesome ghost stories associated with this historic and world famous inn, you’d be forgiven for being more than pleasantly surprised when you step inside. Stories of tortured souls, death and curses are indeed carved into the castle rock that is the skeleton of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, but you are instead greeted by a warm beating heart living within the pub’s historic sandstone cave walls. The staff are hospitable, responsive, courteous, and warm, whilst the overall ambience of the pub is romantic, blissfully congenial, and alive. The beers are quintessentially English and so match the inn beautifully, and are very well kept by a conscientious bunch of genuine beer lovers.
You can’t go to such a fascinating ancient inn without talking history, so let’s talk history.
Water’s part in Ye Olde Trip’s history.
Up until fairly recently, water has been a leading means to a painfully gut wrenching death. Without knowing the science behind beer, it was common knowledge that beer was safe to drink whilst the water it was made with, very rarely was quite so safe. Anywhere employing workers, from farms, to monasteries, to castles, would often supply their workers with germ free beer as part of their payment. The word ‘cash’ itself comes from the Egyptian beer ‘Kash’ that pyramid builders were paid in. The phrase, “wetting the baby’s head” came from the practice of bathing new-born babies in sterile beer. The women of the households back then would brew a weak family beer to maintain her brood’s health. Even the word ‘honeymoon’ came from the tradition of a ‘bride to be’ receiving the gift of honey from her Father. This was meant to be brewed into enough beer for the first ‘moon’ or lunar month of their marriage.
At the time the castle was built in 1068, the nearby river was re-routed to the castle grounds. This water was purified via the boiling process involved in brewing beer and was thus a safe supply to Nottingham Castle. It is therefore believed that the brew house and pub may actually date back to the castle’s early days but this is mainly educated conjecture.
The pub’s name.
The name, ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’ has connections with Richard The Lionheart, The Crusades and The Knights Templar as it was a resting up place (or ‘trypp’) for the knights and soldiers in preparation for the Crusades. It was probably named Ye Olde Trip much later though, as it was most probably called ‘The Lionheart’ and ‘The Pilgrim’ in the inn’s early days.
The pub itself
Panning down the Castle Rock directly under Nottingham Castle, you’re greeted by a black and white half-timbered building that looks quant and very pretty, but still unremarkable for a 17th Century building. It’s not until you walk under Ada’s Etherington Ward’s old landlady sign, through the creaky door (please never oil this), and on into the pub itself that the magic starts. You feel immediately as though you are entering a time machine, not transporting you to a time and place, but instead simultaneously placing you into the whole of time itself. You are suddenly standing on Victorian flagstone floor, inside what looks and feels like prehistoric caves, watching people playing the traditional gypsy/pirate game of ‘Ring The Bull’, and drinking an imperial pint of the gorgeous Ye Olde Trip Ale by an antique Edwardian post box. Trippy to say the least!
Today Nottingham Castle still towers over the cliff edge, looking down at the inn like a hungry dinosaur creeping up on a magpie. The rock that the castle sits on has an elaborate network of caves etched into it and seems to still whisper it’s dusty secrets long lost to history. Above one romantic alcove, a vertical shaft was believed to act as a chimney for the Brew House furnace and can be seen to exit near the castle walls.
Murder, torture, and treason.
Sir Roger de Mortimer (1287-1330) was an English nobleman fiercely loyal to King Edward I, but this loyalty didn’t continue after the ascension to the throne of the king’s son, King Edward II. His opposition to the new King quickly landed him in trouble and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1322, but soon escaped by drugging (or maybe paying off) the guards and fled to the safety of France. Not content with lying low though, Sir Roger the dodger began to have a secret affair with Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II. Mortimer and Isabella, ‘The She-Wolf of France’, deposed the King who was forced to run, tail between his legs, to Wales. Here he abdicated the ‘true throne’ to his son, Edward II, yet Isabella and Mortimer still ruled England in his absence. Mortimer and Isabella stayed in Nottingham Castle until the 17-year-old King Edward III summoned up an army to attack the well-defended castle. As a child Edward had probably played in the castle grounds, and knew of a shaft coming from the brew house to the castle. Edward’s troops covertly crept into the Castle via the shaft and captured Mortimer and Isabella. Mortimer was said to have been thrown down this shaft on his way to be hung drawn and quartered in London at the Tyburn gallows. This shaft is to this day called Mortimer’s Hole.
In the ‘Rock Lounge’ (I doubt we’re talking ground shaking music here), there is a spookily lit toy galleon. A gift from a passing sailor, it is said to carry a curse to whomever moves or cleans in and so has remained covered in cobwebs and dust for many years. Those that have tried to clean it have died soon afterwards. It is now encased in a secure glass tank to ensure that it doesn’t get touched by an overzealous cleaner. As if that isn’t dangerous enough, there is also a fertility chair that when sat upon usually leads to a pregnancy, though personally I feel a bit more than sitting is probably necessary.
Moving over to The Snug (or ‘snog’ as our tour guide Patricia cutely pronounced it), and there are more spooky doings. An old photo hangs from one wall and the eyes do follow you hauntingly around the room. The lady is thought to have lived there and had died in bed in that room. Noises and voices have been recorded in here and the smell of old tobacco has been reported.
Down into the cellars we find a tiny claustrophobic room that was once a prison cell where some prisoners were strung out between the walls. A tankard is kept in the jailor’s sitting alcove to keep the jailor happy and quite. Move it at your own peril for the gate is still there to lock you in.
Near to the ‘Shouting Hole’, the castle’s direct line to the pub’s cellar, is a ‘Cock Pit’ where fighting roosters would battle to the death for the fun and gambling of those gathered in this confined space. One night a past landlady’s husband went to get something from there. He knew the cellars well and didn’t bother turning on the light. As he crossed the room something icy touched him lightly on the back of his neck. He must have left those cellars like a rooster at Christmas that that had just spied the Paxo. Since then the lights are ALWAYS switched on.” Ex-landlord, George Henry Ward aka “Yorkey” is said to be the ‘humorous’ culprit that likes to move things about, and keeps the present day staff on their toes (literally for I note quite a sense of respect and reverence when he is spoken of).
Today though, the place is cosy and romantic. The beers are cool and delicious, and the welcome is warm and friendly.
At some point in your life you ABSOLUTELY MUST make a pilgrimage to Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem.