Established in A.D. 1189, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem claims to be the oldest inn in England. When I first learned that an inn so old was still in existence, I knew I had to visit. Talk about history coming to life! In preparation, I wanted to learn more. My first stop for information was the inn’s very own website.
Although the inn looks to be a building snuggled up against Castle Rock, the inn also consists of areas carved into the Rock, creating cave-like rooms, and is connected to a labyrinth of sandstone caves below. When visiting, a tour of the caves can be arranged but, unfortunately, not when we visited in January (off-season).
A.D. 1189, not coincidentally, is the same date as the year Richard the Lionheart (a.k.a. King Richard I) ascended to the throne of England and launched the Third Crusade. Crusaders rallied at Nottingham Castle, a stronghold of the King, before traveling to Jerusalem. It is believed that these Crusaders stopped at the inn. “Given that in the Middle Ages, a ‘Trip’ was not a journey as such but rather a resting place where such a journey could be broken, it is understandable how the Inn came to be called ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’.”
My husband and I planned to make the inn our afternoon coffee stop on the long trip back home from York. When we arrived, we practically had the place to ourselves. My husband and I ordered lattes, then walked through the inn, exploring all but the inaccessible caves. I couldn’t help but think of all the centuries between us and the date of the inn’s purported establishment. We found a comfortable booth in a cave room with a window and contemplated all the people who came before us, sitting, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, arguing, planning…and looking forward to doing lots and lots of killing.
I’d like to say we enjoyed our lattes as we sat with all those ghosts, but honestly it was the second worst coffee I have had in my life. (First worst being at Prague’s airport.) I’d love to go back to see the caves, but I won’t be back for the coffee.
Knowing that we were close to Nottingham Castle (after all, the walls were just above the inn), we decided to take an unplanned side trip to the Castle after leaving the inn. Not far up Castle Road, we passed another glimpse of the past surviving into the future.
Across the street from this quaint, little building was the first plaque of the twelve-plaque Robin Hood Trail of Nottingham. We read the first three plaques, learning something of Robin Hood’s life in the process. I’d always thought Robin Hood was just a story, but wondered about his story’s veracity when we’d passed through Sherwood Forest on our way up to York a few days earlier. Sherwood Forest actually exists! Might Robin Hood have existed, too? According to the plaques, the answer seems to be, “Yes.”
I love the contrast of the modern-day shooting taking place so near Robin Hood poised to shoot beside the Castle’s wall. How times have changed.
My castle-viewing anticipation leaped at the Castle’s formidable gate, but my excitement was short lived. The gate and walls are all that remain of Nottingham Castle.
Nottingham Castle. Richard the Lionheart. Robin Hood. Wait… Is it possible that Robin Hood also might have taken an afternoon break from his travels at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem? Don’t tell me otherwise; I’m going to believe it to be true.