Renowned all over the world for their tradition and heritage, English pubs represent so much more than just a place where one can enjoy a glass of beer, wine, or cider. For centuries, these beloved institutions have been at the center of English social life, witnessing some of the greatest changes in the history of the country.
While the social aspects and the cultural significance of English pubs have never been a matter of debate, what the English haven’t yet settled is which pub deserves to be called the oldest in the country. The list of pubs claiming to be the nation’s oldest is quite long, but it seems that no one can say for sure who owns the title of England’s oldest inn.
Out of the many claimants, there is one built into the rock under Nottingham Castle, known as Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which, according to its website, it is not only the oldest pub in Nottingham but also in England. Although there is no historical evidence to whether this claim is true, its website suggests that the pub has been serving ale since the 12th century, or more precisely, since the year of 1189, when King Richard I’s reign began. Legend has it that this historic drinking saloon was named for Richard the Lionheart’s crusaders, who stopped by the pub for a quick one before heading on the long trip to the Promised Land to fight Saladin’s mighty army.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, like numerous other buildings in Nottingham, is attached to a network of man-made caves, which were most probably used as the castle’s brewery and are believed to date to the year of 1068, when Nottingham Castle was built. At the beginning, the caves were the main part of the pub, but nowadays they are used as the pub’s cellars.
A place as historic as Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem clearly does not lack ghost stories and spooky legends. “With hundreds of haunted tales from landlords, landladies, staff and visitors it takes a lot of courage to come and spend hour upon hour here working, often alone early in the morning or late at night with eerie noises from the cellars and dark creepy caves,” the pub’s website states.
Of all the spooky legends that surround the pub, the one of the old “cursed galleon,” a small wooden model of a ship that is believed to be cursed, could be the most intriguing. Legend has it that the last three people who cleaned it all died under mysterious circumstances within a year and that is why the ship is currently encased in glass. It is also believed that the ghost of George H. “Yorkey” Ward, landlord to the inn from 1849 to 1914, is still hanging around Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, playing tricks on the staff like moving things around.
The pub also houses the “Pregnancy Chair,” an antique chair that is said have the power to increase a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. The pub’s website states that over the years so many women have tested the legend of the Pregnancy Chair, hoping to become pregnant, that the chair is now too weak to withstand the huge demand.
Whether or not Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is the oldest pub in England seems irrelevant, especially after knowing that there are two more pubs in Nottingham alone, The Bell and The Salutation, which both also claim that they deserve the crown for being the oldest in England. However, if you want to be one 100 percent sure which is the oldest, you will surely need to go on a pub crawl in Nottingham and make the decision yourself.