Bell Inn Caves


Useful Information

photography
Bell Inn facade, Bell Inn Caves, Nottingham, Great Britain. Public Domain.
Location: Bell Inn, 18 Angel Row, Nottingham, NG1 6HL
(52.9535, -1.1520)
Open: On certain days over the year. Check tourist office and pub for dates.
Pub: All year Mon-Thu 10-23, Fri-Sat 10-00:30, Sun 11-23.
[2021]
Fee: Adults GBP 10.
Pub: free.
[2018]
Classification: SubterraneaCellar sandstone
Light: electric/bring torch
Dimension: T=10 °C.
Guided tours: MinAge=16.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Bell Inn Caves, 18 Angel Row, Nottingham, NG1 6HL, Tel: +44-115-947-5241.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

12th cty first cellars created.
1276 a group of Carmelite Friars arrives in Nottingham, obtains lands and establishes a Friary on Friar Lane.
1536 The Bell Inn first established as a public house.
1982 Grade II listed building.
2004 historic cellars explored and cleaned.
2013 The Bell Inn wins Greene King's National Pub Of The Year Award.

Description

The Bell Inn Caves are a part of the Nottingham underground. The Bell Inn is a historic pub at 18 Angel Row in the center of the city. Like all buildings it is connected to the vast system of cellars below. Obviously the uppermost cellars are used to store the beer for the pub. The others are more or less in their abandoned state, and they are reached down a shaft. For the tour a long aluminium ladder is used to climb down.

Over the year there are numerous tours at special days, and they are the real deal, not for the faint hearted, tours of Nottingham underground. Because this is actually not a tourist venue, its just a section of the cellars which is in the original state. Its necessary to descent ladders and walk on uneven ground, walking shoes and appropriate clothes are recommended. Best bring a helmet with a headlamp, ao you have the hands free, there is no electric light, and wear appropriate clothes.

The Bell Inn cellars were hand carved from the 12th century. It is believed that they were created mostly by Carmelite Friars, according to legend as monk’s dormitories. In one area blackened walls, smoke blackened ceilings, and evidence of a chimney, suggest that this part of the cellar was used as an underground kitchen. There are two wells from which natural spring water was obtained. According to legend they were used for on-site brewing of beer. This obviously worked only in the early days, for one the buildings and plastered streets unfortunately prevent the inflow of fresh water. And the water was tainted by the waste of the people living above, and are no longer suitable for brewing. The wells, and probably the cellars, were abandoned around 1437, the time The Bell Inn was first established as a public house (pub). The waste in the wells was excavated and dated to this time. One well was accessible from the ground floor, and after the excavation it was cleaned and electrically lit. You can actually see 16 m down into the well through a glass top on the far right side of the bar, even without visiting the caves.

The network of cellars, extends under adjoining buildings, for example the neighbouring building which once housed a wine merchants. The port cellars contain shelves filled with bottles and the steel tracks for transport. They housed barrels of wine ready for sale. The cellars are said to have been used as bonded warehouse,

The Bell In is located in Angel Row, and when it was built as a refectory to the Carmelite monastery sited nearby on Beastmarket Hill, between 1400 and 1450, it was known as the Angel, named after the Angelus bell that hung outside. the smaller monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536, and the premises became a secular alehouse. The original flagstones in the main passageway are from this early days, horsemen and coachmen led their passengers to the stables and then the buttery on those stones. Later it became a billet for soldiers of the Horse Guards regiment. Old documents show, that four dragoons stayed here in 1746 and paid 3s (15p) for their overnight stay. There is still a bell, which is part of the Regency facade, but this one is from 1811 to 1820. in 1831 The Bell was the gathering place for Reform Act rioters, during Goose Fair. They were quite thankful and only smashed the windows, the Nottingham Castle, Colwick Hall and other prominent buildings were burned down.

The Jackson family was associated with the pub for a very long time. It started in 1898 ended in 2002, when the pub was bought by Hardy & Hansons. in 1928 Landlord Robert Jackson introduced snack bar meals. In 1957 they established a tradition of presenting an engraved tankard to the President of Nottingham University’s Students’ Union. in 1974 they were granted permission to put tables and seating outside.