Around Nottingham’s famous, raised castle are some marvellous pubs and inns brimming with traditional charm.
A collection of fantastic pubs can be found around the raised mound that Nottingham Castle sits on, and hopping between them means you can absorb some fascinating local history and delicious local beer simultaneously – genius...
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We are not a-boozed.
The story goes that the children of James II’s daughter Anne would play with the innkeeper’s children whilst staying at the nearby castle in the late 17th century. True or not, the whimsical tale is responsible for the name of this classic pub, where friendly staff serve a great variety of cask and bottled beer. Very busy on match days, The Royal Children is a Nottingham Forest stronghold – so absolutely not the place to be wearing your Derby shirts chaps. The old pub sign – which actually took the form of a gen-u-ine whale shoulder blade – is proudly displayed above the bar and dates back to the early 18th century and the peak of the UK whaling industry, when skippers would distribute portions of whale skeletons as advertisements.
Just like greeting an old friend.
Affectionately known as simply ‘The Sal’, this is one of two pubs on our route that lays claim to being the oldest in Nottingham, and perhaps the country. On the corner of Hound’s Gate and Maid Marian Way (take note, Robin Hood fans), this venue is a CAMRA-endorsed real ale pub that also serves up freshly cooked classic fare. Dating from as far back as 1240, Ye Olde Salutation Inn has been a mainstay of the Nottingham pub scene for generations, and is situated above a fascinating network of caves that have been discovered to have their origins in a 9th century Saxon farm. There’s nothing 9th century about the late-night scene at The Sal though, as it routinely welcomes live music acts that contribute to its lively atmosphere.
You crafty devil.
The walk round to the Crafty Crow offers the first glimpse of the castle itself, namely the monstrous stone gatehouse that is one of the last standing sections of the medieval fortress. Inside is a beer-lover’s paradise; 14 taps - producing a constantly-rotating selection of craft beers – emerge from a massive metal conditioning tank. These are complimented by 10 hand pull taps, of which three are always dedicated to beers from the local Magpie Brewery. These independent beer engineers operate the Crow as their tap house but pride themselves in providing a carefully selected portfolio of beer from interesting breweries all over the nation. The ‘Crafty Menu’ also extends to delicious British dishes, all of which come with a recommended beer style to complement and enhance their flavours.
A man’s pub is his castle.
A tall, redbrick pub at the top of the paved, gently sloping Castle Road and just outside the castle grounds, the Castle Pub is rustic on the outside and modern on the inside. The vast facade is elegant and historic, and doesn’t look out of place opposite an ancient site like Nottingham Castle, but inside, this venue could easily be mistaken for a metropolitan, inner-city bar. An outside area is a welcome addition when the weather is being kind and definitely adds to the appeal of the location, and if you look carefully at the park over the road, you can see, and raise a glass to, the most famous statue of Nottingham’s famous outlaw– Robin Hood.
Take a trip to ‘The Trip’
The final stop on our historical crawl (and by this point there’s a chance you may actually be crawling), is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. Nestled snugly against Castle Rock, this pub is one of the most famous in the city, and lays claim to being the oldest inn in the country. Not only built against the sandstone mound that the castle is built on, the pub also boasts caves built into them that it’s believed were used as a brewery for the castle hundreds of years ago. Today, the large ground level caverns serve a new, if not entirely dissimilar purpose, as the rear drinking rooms. With a garden and courtyard for the balmy summer months and open fires for the bitter cold ones, the variety of well-maintained draught beers can be enjoyed in comfort year-round.
Make sure you don’t leave the ‘Trip’, as it’s affectionately known, without taking in the curiosities hidden in the upper rooms. There’s ‘the cursed galleon’, a spectacularly filthy wooden model ship that hasn’t been cleaned in years because it’s claimed anyone that does so meets a mysterious death soon after. Then the antique chair that apparently increases your chances of becoming pregnant if you sit in it, and now has to be on display due to becoming too weak from the increased popularity that this reputation brought.
Nottingham Castle is just a glimpse of the fun to be had in historic Nottingham, explore our Nottingham stag weekends page for even more info.
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