Of the many pubs that claim to be the oldest in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem has to be at least the nicest. Built into the rock under Nottingham Castle, the original building was a brewhouse for William the Conqueror's descendants, who hauled up the beer through a huge chimney in the rock. It was named, it is said, for Richard the Lionheart's Crusaders, who stopped there in 1189 for "necessary refreshments" on their way to the Promised Land. Well, you'd need a pint of Abbot and a cheese ploughman's if you were off to fight the forces of Saladin.
Ye Olde Trip now is much more cheerful. The outer building, added in the 1650s, has stone floors and a tiny beer garden under a little lych gate. Landlady Ada Geraldine Etherington-Ward left her name over the door and a collection of signed portraits of 1930s music hall stars in Yorkey's Lounge. Another landlord, George Henry Ward, died in 1914 but still hangs around playing tricks on the staff. Old patrons also make their presence felt. A suit of armour guards one bar, while a dusty wooden galleon decorates the Rock Lounge. The last three people to have cleaned it apparently died in strange circumstances, so nobody seems keen on dusting there any more.
If you still don't believe this is the oldest pub in England, you could visit Nottingham's The Bell and The Salutation, which both make the same claim – a fine excuse for a pub crawl if ever I heard one.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham (0115 947 3171)