This place has a long history.
Go into a bar or pub from the 1800s and you’ll notice how different it feels right away. But, stepping into an establishment with roots in the 12th and built into a cave? It’s a completely different environment. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, UK, (yes the one from Robin Hood) claims to be the oldest pub in all of the England, with a supposed establishment date of 1189 and a fascinating history to go with.
The Crusades began in 1095 as a movement to wrest control of Jerusalem from Muslim forces. This in turn was supposed to ensure that pilgrims to the Holy Land would have continued access to the sites pertaining to Jesus’ life and death. The Holy Land Crusades lasted until 1291, after which the location was thought to have been secured. Later Crusades focused on other areas but, it was Jerusalem that held the most interest for Christians around the globe (and still does).
Prior to modern times a pilgrimage to Israel would have taken months and months. It would have also been a most treacherous journey across rugged mountain terrain, through war-torn lands, or aboard a ship when overland conditions were too harsh.
To name a pub for such an undertaking paid homage to those who made the passage in years prior. Legend has it that drinks were served to the Crusaders at the pub as they made their way to foreign lands. In those days the word “trip” would have referred to a stop on a journey, not the entire journey.
The building that stands there now does not date from the 12th century, though the oldest parts of the pub building standing today are from the 1600s. The pub is a Grade II listed building, which means it’s protected by law as a place of special interest.
The bar is built into Castle Rock, a series of man-made caves that run through a soft limestone formation in the town. Booths set in cave rooms offer a unique place to enjoy food and drink.
These caves at various times served a variety of functions, though it is believed that the first cave-makers carved the stone in the 4th century as a way to keep safe and warm.
Over the years the caves were alternately used for living, for storage, for tanning animal hides, and even as a cesspool. The latter use was said to have kept away rats that carried the black death, the plague that ravaged the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages.
It has been speculated that the pub served as a brewery for the Nottingham Castle before it became a pub. Today evidence of medieval use of the pub can be seen in the tubes carved into the rock. The speaking tubes are said to have been used to place orders at the brewery below. A visit here is more than a trip to the bar, but rather more like stepping into a full history lesson!