The Bell Inn ( Angel Row, Nottingham)
Recce - March 2005


Thanks to Brian at the Bell for letting us use this section below -
taken from the The Bell Inn website.

A group of Carmelite Friars arrived in Nottingham in 1276 and readily obtained lands and property. They established a Friary on what is now Friar Lane, and their lands extended to include the site of what is now The Bell Inn.

By the accurate dating of the building, it’s identification as a hostelry with stables, and it’s location, it is reliably considered that the building was the guesthouse of the Friary.

It was commonplace at the time for the Anglus, or noonday bell, to be situated at the guesthouse of a religious order, which explains how The Bell got its name at the time of the dissolution of the religious houses.

First written evidence of The Bell came in 1638, when Alderman Sherwin passed away, bequeathing his half of The Bell Inn to the poor of the local parishes.

The first lost of Nottingham Inns, published in 1758, showed The Bell as one of 120 in the area, of which only 40 still stand today.

1732 - Will of John White

1734 - Sale from Mary White to Abel Smith

1756 - Will of Abel Smith to Abel Smith his son

1782 - Will of Abel Smith to Robert Smith, the founder of Smith’s bank who later became Lord Carrington

1803 - Lord Carrington’s sale to Mrs Jane Lant, all referring to the freehold portion of the property

1806 - A lease from the church to Mrs Lant of 21 years at an annual rent of £15, plus a commitment to spend £100 by 1813 and a further £50 by 1820 on repairs of the property. It was this arrangement, arrived at only by arbitration, which really saved the fabric of The Bell. From this time forward, the freehold and leasehold halves of the building were combined both legally and architecturally with the "new" frontage.

1812 - Mrs Catherine Wigley

1812 - William Clarke becomes landlord

1831 - On Goose fair night, some of the reform Bill Rioters gathered at The Bell and in subsequent disturbances many windows were smashed, but the building was mercifully spared being set alight, unlike the Castle, Colwick Hall, and many prominent buildings in the Square.

1842 - During the election, John Walters, the Tory candidate, established his headquarters at The Bell in his campaign against Robert Sturge and it is recorded that in the demonstration in the Square, both candidates were forcibly ejected by the mob. Walters took refuge in The Bell, which action was repeated by the local fascists in 1936.

1888 - The Charity Commissoners finally disposed of the Inn when it was purchased by A.W Hickling for £7,210. For four years The Bell became a tied house to a brewery for the first time in its history.

William Clark

William Clarke was born on Christmas Eve, 1798. He gave up his job as a bricklayer at the age of 19 to become landlord of The Bell. From the age of 17 he played cricket for Nottinghamshire in almost every match 30 years, despite losing an eye whilst playing a game of fives!

Whilst he was the landlord of The Bell Inn, William’s attention fell on the widow Mrs Chapman at the Trent Bridge Inn, a tiny cottage inn that had a large meadow to the rear. He married the lady in December 1837, and opened the famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground in May 1838, which remains among the finest in the world.

The Jackson Family

Joseph Jackson, the owner of an off-license in Polin Street, Radford, Nottingham, purchased The Bell Inn in 1898. When he bought The Bell on Trafalgar Day 1898 (21st October), it was priced at £12,500. His wife became the forerunner of modern pub food when she established the 1/- Market Dinners, which consisted of Beef, vegetables, Stilton cheese and a pint of ale. Joseph Jackson died in 1913, but his widow continued running The Bell until her death in 1923.

The Bell was put up for public auction when Mrs Jackson died, and it was her youngest son, Robert Jackson, who purchased the Inn for £26,000. Robert Jackson built the premier "Snack Bar" onto the rear of the pub in 1928. It was the first bar to offer full meals served in an almost ‘café bar’ atmosphere, and it held the first ‘jukebox’, or its forerunner, a large cabinet radio gramophone, playing 78" records (usually of light operettas).

Robert Jackson died suddenly in 1934, leaving a widow, Dorothy Jackson. Dorothy continues the family business throughout the difficulties of the 1930s and the Second World War, which on 5th May 1940, included a stick of bombs (two only 25 yards away), and a lone Messer Schmidt strafing the road and buildings outside. Dorothy’s son, David Jackson, joined the family business upon leaving school in 1949. Whilst renovating the ground floor public rooms they opened the first floor to public use, which is still in use today at The Belfry Restaurant.

(UK Paranormal)
Samantha Marriott
Louise Marriott


1st recce -

Denise Morris
2nd recce -
Brian Hardy
Peter O'Grady
Brenda Mellors
Andy Christodoulou

1 x Digital Video Camera
with nightvision
1 x Digital Still Cameras
2 x Dictaphones
1 x Minidisc Recorder
Trigger object -
Rosary beads

Due to the size of the venue three recces were done. Brian, the landlord very kindly gave us full access and showed us the caves himself (with a very dodgy torch that kept threatening to go out!).

The first recce was about familiarising ourselves with the layout and speaking to staff. The premises date back to the 1400’s and have seen many phases of building upwards, sideways and beyond!

The staff were very helpful, level-headed and, thankfully not given to flights of fancy. There was no solid evidence for paranormal activity within the building.

The second recce was to help the UK Paranormal organiser to evaluate how many team members would be needed and to look at any health and safety issues. Brian again was very helpful in this ensuring we were aware of procedures in case of fire/accident etc.

A third recce was with a couple of invited guests to conduct several experiments:

Trigger Object
The trigger object (A cross) was placed on the shelf in the second-floor room off the spiral staircase on the left-hand side of the caves.

After an hour we checked the trigger to discover it had moved. A digital camera on a tripod was placed in front of it to record any further movement. Within seconds of leaving the room the camera switched itself off.

A dicta-phone was placed on the stairwell at the end of the Port Cellars, and another was placed on the steps leading into the room where the Trigger was placed. Nothing was caught on the trigger one but a sound was caught on the Port Cellar machine.

We decided to do a channelling session in the room where the trigger object was left. Three members of the group felt constricted around the throat and one member picked up on someone drowning in the caves. Though nothing was caught on tape Sam heard a male voice answer ‘yes’ when asked, “did you drown in the caves”.

Initial Conclusions

There is scant evidence for activity in the building itself. The atmosphere is calm throughout as befits a section of Nottingham with history of monastic industry dating back to the 1100s. The area has a continued history of beer brewing – starting with the original Carmalite monks using the cave system and natural wells for this purpose, up to the present Bell Inn being built in the 1400s; still brewing beer and selling it.

The caves are very dark, with no natural light source, a little damp underfoot in places and full of echoing stairwells and corridors.

An unusual EVP was caught in the caves, along with some interesting material coming out of the channelling session. The team thinks there is activity of a very subdued nature in the caves, which might be borne out by further investigation with a medium.

You can visit the Bell Inn's website at The Bell Inn - circa 1437 or, better still go to the pub and do the 'Cave Tour'.


sound caught on tape during recce - download 1.40 Mb

 - Trigger object set up in caves.

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