The Legend of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem

Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, formerly known as The Pilgrim.

The original Castle of Nottingham was established on the rock in the year 1068 by William Perverill for William the Conqueror. Perverill caused the course of the River Leen to be altered to pass by the foot of the rock, partly as a moated defence and partly as a water supply for the Castle.

After the building of the Castle, one of the first additions would have been the Brewhouse. Since water for drinking was notoriously bad in the Middle Ages, ale was brewed and drank, because as well as providing alcohol, the brewing process served to sterilise the drink. The brewing of ale requires a steady temperature and the caves at the foot of the Castle Rock were ideal because they provided not only a very effective ‘air-conditioning’ system, but also necessary storage space.

Whilst there no maps of that era, examination of the caves suggest that the original location of the Brewhouse was in the area of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. Two vertical passages through the rock emerge into the open air outside the Castle walls – one of which leads from the present upstairs Lounge of the Inn. It seems very likely that these two passages were used in the malting process. This would have required a large fire and also a very wide ‘chimney’ and although these chimneys may have been partly natural, the similarities between the two suggest that they were probably altered to suit the needs and were thus the malthouses of the day.

The Original Brewhouse

Much of the history of the Inn is very poorly recorded. An archaeological dig in 1974 proved conclusively that the location of the original Brewhouse could only be that of the caves of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. This established that the Castle Brewhouse existed prior to 1189AD but the first dated reference is to be found is in the records of the City Council for the year 1618. The parochial rights to the area now known as the Brewhouse Yard did not in fact belong to the Castle but passed backwards and forward over time between the Priory of Lenton, The Knights Templar and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.

The black and white half-timbered section of the outer buildings of the Inn most certainly dates to around 1650 to 1660 and is shown accurately and in the correct location on Badder and Peat’s map of 1744. This was used as the basis for Charles Deering’s map in his 1751 book, “History of the Antiquities of Nottingham”.

Shortly later, the Inn was bought by William Standford who was responsible for many of the period buildings of Nottingham. This resulted in the structure of the Inn as it can be seen today and those with a keen eye for detail and old architecture will be able to spot the join between the old and new structures.

The first reference to the Inn with a name came in Deering’s book, where he referred to it as” The Pilgrim”. Bearing in mind the connection with the Court of St John of Jerusalem it seems but a short step to the name “Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem” which first appeared in Willoughby’s Directory of Nottingham, dated 1799. Interestingly, in deeds of sale recorded in 1834, the Inn was noted as “Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, formerly known as The Pilgrim”.

The next point of particular note was the acquisition of the Inn by George Henry Ward. A colourful character known to everyone as “Yorkey”, he had his nickname painted on the outside of the Inn where today the inscription “Well known throughout the World” is to be seen. Wright’s Directories of Nottingham record that “Yorkey” was the licensee of the Meadow Inn on Arkright Street in 1891 and the Fox and Owl on Parliament Street in 1893. By 1894 it is recorded that he had taken over the licence of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem and remained there until his death in 1914.