“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Nottingham’s Ancient Boozers

Whilst visiting Nottingham, and following my hankering for a good pint, Mrs J and I came across two rather old pubs, both of which would like to lay claim to being one of the oldest drinking establishments in the country. Old or not, they are certainly worth a look; here is what we found:

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem lies at the base of Castle Rock, which is a sandstone outcrop on top of which Nottingham Castle is built. A large portion of the pub is carved out of the sandstone, meaning the pub is essentially a building attached to a series of caves. Having a pint in a room carved from the rock face is indeed an interesting experience!

According to the pub sign the pub dates from 1189 AD, and there is some evidence to suggest that the cellars beneath the building (which were originally the castle brew house) date from the same period as the construction of the castle (1068 AD). The main pub building (which is built on the foundations of earlier constructions) is reported to be only about three hundred years old.

Aside from an interesting building and the usual resident ghost, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem has a number of other interesting features:

A "secret passage" - the pub is reported to have a tunnel (now closed off) which once connected it to the castle.

A "cursed galleon" - the pub has a small wooden model of a ship in the upstairs bar. Pub legend claims that the last three people who have cleaned the galleon have all met a mysterious death, and because of this Landlords over the years have refused to allow anyone to dust the ship, allowing inches of thick grime to build up on it.

A "pregnancy chair" - the pub contains an antique chair, and it is claimed that any woman who sits in this chair will increase her chances of becoming pregnant. Ignoring the sign that said not to sit in the chair (as it is fragile) Mrs J bravely gave the chair a quick whirl. So please check back in nine months time to see the outcome of that experiment!

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
The cursed galleon
 Cursed galleon sign 
The pregnancy chair
Pregnancy chair sign

Ye Olde Salutation Inn

Ye Olde Salutation Inn in its current form is believed to date from around 1240. It was built upon the site of an even older ale house known as The Archangel Gabriel Salutes the Virgin Mary and also sits atop some Anglo-Saxon caves which are believed to date from the 9th century.

Exploring the caves beneath the pub the visitor will see a number of teddy bears and dolls scattered about.  These are the toys of the resident ghost, Rosie, a 4 or 5 year old urchin who died in the Victorian era.

Ye Olde Salutation Inn has a special interest for Mrs J, as research into Mrs J’s family tree hints towards her Great Great Grandmother (Eliza Brooks) being the owner of the Inn during the 1800’s.

So if you find yourself in Nottingham, you now know where to go for a drink or two!

Ye Olde Salutation Inn

Ye Olde Salutation Inn

The pub sign
A potted history
The caves
Rosie's sign

Pictures, Nottingham (January 2013).

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Thursday 24 January 2013

Savile's Ghosts

Pictured below are the crumbling remains of Rufford Abbey which resides on a 500 acre estate near Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Rufford started life as a Cistercian Abbey in 1147 (founded by Gilbert de Gant), and remained as an Abbey until the dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century when it became a private house. The estate has had a number of private owners over the years, and in 1626 it came into the possession of the Savile family who owned it into the 20th century, after which the Abbey fell slowly into disrepair.

The Abbey is reported to be home to a number of ghosts, and the hauntings that afflict the Abbey are believed to have been sparked off by the actions of George Savile (the Eighth Baron), who was widely believed to have dabbled in black magic and satanic practices. One of the early hauntings is documented in the parish register of Edwinstowe Church, which records the burial of a man who “died of fright after seeing the Rufford ghost”.

Another interesting feature of the Rufford estate are the ice houses that live in the Abbey’s grounds. Five ice houses were added to the Rufford estate between 1729 and 1845, two of which are still visible today. Built in close proximity to the estates lake, the ice houses were used to store ice taken from the lake in the winter, enabling it to be used to provide ice and refrigeration for the residents of the estate during the summer months.

Rufford Abbey
Inside the Abbey.
"Sculpture" on Abbey wall - Demonic Monkeys?
 "Sculpture" on Abbey wall - Tasty Toe? 
An Ice House.
Peering into the Ice House.
Pictures, Nottinghamshire (January 2013).

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Thursday 17 January 2013

The Strand’s ‘Roman’ Bath

Most people who have walked along the Strand in London will instantly recognise the familiar frontage of the disused Aldwych tube station. Regular visitors to the Strand may also know that Aldwych tube station has a second entrance, just around the corner on Surrey Street. What most people will not know however, is that just behind Aldwych station lies the Strand’s “Roman” Bath.

Leaving the Strand and walking south along Surrey Street (past the entrance to Aldwych Station) the observant wanderer will eventually come across an archway and a small set of steps which lead down off of Surrey Street into Strand Lane. It is in Strand Lane that the “Roman” Bath can be found. The bath is built beneath number 5 Strand Lane and can be seen through the glass frontage which looks into the basement (there is a light switch on the wall that allows the inside to be illuminated).

Even though the bath is advertised as being Roman, it seems that it is more likely to be Tudor instead. Whether the bath is Roman or not, the idea that the bath is Roman has been around for a while. Charles Dickens for one made reference to the Strand’s Roman Bath in David Copperfield (the novel of 1850).

Aldwych Station entrance on Surrey Street.

Sign on Surrey Street showing the alley leading to Strand Lane.

Down the steps to Strand Lane.

The bath can be seen through the windows in this enclosure.

Sign providing background info.

Peering through the window.

 Peering through the window.
Pictures, London (May 2012).

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Wednesday 9 January 2013

A French Monolith

One thing that Britain and France have in common is the prevalence of standing-stones that are dotted about the countryside. During a recent holiday to France me and Mrs J came across this rather impressive example. This menhir (French for long stone/tall upright megalith) is known as the “Pierre Plantée de Lussan” or “menhir de la Lèque“ (as it is located near the hamlet of La Lèque and the village of Lussan). The menhir is an impressive 5.6 metres high, making it the tallest standing stone in the department of Gard. This menhir is believed to date from around 2300 to 1800 years BC.

The menhir.
The menhir in comparison to a 6'4" measuring "stick".
Side on.
Around the back.
Local information board.

Pictures, France (October 2012).

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Roche Rock

The below pictures were taken in the Cornish village of Roche, and show “Roche Rock“. Roche Rock, is an isolated stone outcrop onto which a small chapel (dedicated to St Micheal) was built in the 15th Century. Roche Rock exudes a spooky and mysterious air. The surrounding countryside is flat and green, and Roche Rock stands isolated within this landscape, giving the impression that it does not really belong. This unnatural apperance is probably why the rock is linked to a number of local legends. It is most notably linked to the 12th century lovers Tristan and Iseult (who sought refuge at the rock from Iseult’s angry husband), and the unscrupulous 17th centruy magistrate Jan Tregeagle (who’s soul sought refuge at the rock from pursuing otherworldly terrors).

Roche Rock has also featured on Andrew May’s Forteana Blog.

Pictures, Cornwall (September 2006).