THE 'BELL INN'
The quirky Bell Inn has stood at the edge of Nottingham’s vast Old Market Square since 1437. This reputedly haunted venue, boasting quaint and cosy snugs and bars, hides a dark and eerie sub-pub underworld that stretches deep into the gloom beneath the city.
The warren-like sandstone cave system boasts enigmatic caved-in tunnels, shafts, and abandoned staircases clawing upward in vain toward the modern city streets above. Exactly where some of these shafts and steps once surfaced is long forgotten.
The spooky labyrinth is accessed via a storeroom adjacent to the mens’ room, which itself is in a cellar beneath the main bar. From here, rock cut steps descend to a tier of sandstone grottoes used for storing beer barrels. From one of these cluttered caverns, a wooden trap door leads deeper still to a cavernous void with two exits. One exit leads to a series of rock cut steps and yet more caves and chambers, and the other leads to a tunnel heading determinedly away from the Bell Inn beneath neighboring buildings.
The only sign of these ghostly grottoes evident from the alehouse above is a glass observation window set into one of the bars, which lets people glimpse into deep shaft plunging into the darkness of the caverns below. Guided tours of this perilous and largely unlit cave system are carried out by torchlight at the visitor’s own risk. Hard hats are not provided, so underground explorers are advised to mind their heads!
Nottingham has more human-made caves than any other city in Europe, although most of this underworld is privately owned, dangerous, or permanently inaccessible. Nottingham's earliest recorded Brythonic name, Tigguo Cobauc translates as "Place of Cavy Dwellings."
Clancy's comment: Yet, another discovery under a pub.