This is a truly remarkable pub and is one of the premier sights of Nottingham. Parts of it date back to the 17th century – forget about the 1189 date outside which is a matter of pure invention! What makes it unique is a series of rooms burrowing into the soft sandstone of the rock beneath Nottingham Castle: the city centre is riddled with such spaces which were used for storage. Alterations in 1997–8 did not impact adversely on the historic core and, indeed, won a CAMRA/English Heritage design award. The entrance leads into a flagstone passage, which brings you to the Ward Room (the name recollects the family who kept the pub between 1894 and 1989). Here can be found the rare and fiendishly hard game of ringing the bull. Opposite is the servery, which seems of varied but fairly indeterminate dates. A few feet further on is a tiny rock-cut snug created during the alterations. Up a staircase is the Rock Lounge, a cavernous space refitted around 1930 with a quarter-circle counter and brick fireplace. Over the counter is the ‘cursed galleon’ which has not been cleaned for over 50 years following the mysterious deaths of the last three intrepid people who tried to do so! From here, a passage through the rock from 1997–8 leads to the Museum Room, once previously an office. Back downstairs, room no. 3 may have been a kitchen in the past and is known as Yorkey’s Room after ‘Yorkey’ Ward, licensee 1894–1914 (see his inn sign on the wall). The adjacent snug was converted from living accommodation in 1996.
A very remarkable pub, parts of which date back to the early 17th and 18th centuries (and not the 12th century as the date outside might have you to believe!). In part it is half-timbered but what makes it particularly special is the way it extends back into the castle rock in a series of hewed-out rooms on two levels. Above the main entrance door is a colourful glass panel with the words “Ada G Etherington-Ward, Licensed Brewer, Retailer of Beer, Wines, Spirits & Tobacco to be consumed on or off the premises” - 'The Trip' was owned by the Ward family for 100 years until they sold it to Hardy & Hansons for a reputed £1 million in 1990.
A flagstone passage runs past the door to the servery with a ‘1’ on it to the first of five rooms – the Ward Room, originally the Tap Room, which is partly hollowed out of the sandstone and has a flagstone floor with leatherette covered high backed settles all around at least 50 years old, and a large black painted brick fireplace at least 70 years old. On the back wall is a black iron hook with a ring tied to a piece of string hanging from the ceiling. This is the traditional pub game of 'Ringing The Bull'. Have a go at throwing the ring across the room with the aim of hooking it over the 'bull', you will do well to get it over!
As you walk further into the pub there is a tiny snug on the right created during alterations in 1997-8. Between the main bar and the rock-cut areas at the back lies the servery with identical panelled counters on three sides that do look more post-war work than pre-war - the bar back fitting is mostly modern. A staircase leads upwards and backwards to Mortimer’s Room which has a ‘4’ on the door with a stained and leaded glazed panel. This lounge appears to have been refitted about 1930, the date of the quarter circle fielded panelled bar counter and brick fireplace, but the bar back fitting is modern. Note the unusual clock - dated 1856 – with the minute hand set to Greenwich time; and the 'cursed galleon' now in a glass case hanging above the bar which, according to legend, the last three cleaners to clean it died mysteriously, so it has not been cleaned for over 50 years! From here there leads off a passage formed in the rock in 1997-8 to another small room (previously an office) hewn out of the sandstone.
Downstairs is a room with a number '3' on the door originally called the Bar Parlour with a modern quarry tiled floor, a small range fireplace indicating it may have been a domestic kitchen in the distant past and some leather covered fixed bench seating which is difficult to date. Up three steps there is a small Snug which also only opened in 1996 and is a conversion from living accommodation. It has a 1930s tiled and wood surround fireplace and a parliamentary clock (or old moon dial, a clock shaped dial on the wall which indicates the phases of the moon?). The 1997-8 works won a CAMRA/English Heritage award.