About The Cross Keys
It is known that a tavern called The Cross Keys has existed on the site at the top of Byard Lane for at least two hundred years but probably much longer. Investigations are currently underway that should date the earlier original building to at 1490 or even earlier as the brewery and alehouse of the nearby 12th Century St Peter's Church.
The first recorded mention of The Cross Keys in is in The Poor Rate Book in 1799 and states that one John Levers, Victualler ("Cross Keys") is a resident of "Blowbladder Street” to the north of the tavern. Always a landmark pub it is situated in the richly historic Weekday Cross area of Nottingham that was the original market place for Nottingham and the centre of the city’s council, police and law courts from the fourteenth to late nineteenth century. The Galleries Of Justice are a few yards away and the now demolished Guild Hall and prison once stood in this area.
"The original building had to be torn down due to the railway tunnel being built below. During the work the cellar fell into the tunnel and the workers took full advantage of this spending the weekend drinking most of the contents before being found on Monday morning!"
There is another mention of the pub in "A Guide To Old Nottingham” written by Harry Gill in 1917:
"Just beyond, the end of Byard Lane is passed. A few years ago an old inn, the Cross-Keys, (now rebuilt), stood at the top of this lane, on the walls whereof was painted the legend, "Home brewed ales sold by the yard." The beverage (about a gallon) was served in a tumbler three feet long, so made that the contents were liable to flow all over the face of the unwary customer, whereat the spectators laughed hugely."
The current building is thought to be mid/late Victorian and the architecture and décor would certainly back that up. During the 20th Century The Cross keys carried on as a popular city centre watering hole and only in recent times, as style bars boomed and pub popularity waned was it painted a hideous yellow and renamed "CK’s”. Thankfully, it is now back to its very old self.
The name "The Cross Keys” has been common in pubs throughout England for many centuries and refers to the Christian martyr St Peter. Crossed keys, sometimes with an inverted crucifix is the symbol of the saint and refers to his holding of the keys to heaven and his reported insistence on being crucified upside down as he felt himself not worthy of suffering the same fate as Jesus.
The Cross Keys serves a range of beers including SEVEN hand-pulled real ales as part of the CAMRA sponsored Locale scheme. The mainstay of this is be Bateman’s XB priced at £2.40 a pint with the other residents being London Pride and Hobgoblin. There are four guest ales on rotation from Nottingham, Blue Monkey and Mallard breweries with NAVIGATION BREWERY about to open in 2012 this will all change bit. Cider drinkers will be happy (aren't they always) with Magners Gold, Olde English and a small range of real ciders. Lagers are Carling plus premium draught lagers from the Coors range along with a number of bottled continental beers including occasional guests from afar. Draught Guinness tops it all off, strictly speaking, we should have mentioned that at the start of the round.
The menu is essentially British based with the addition of an extensive breakfast selection and some more standard pub food. Suits and shoppers, lawyers and layabouts alike will all find something to their fancy in its pages. Breakfasts start at 8am and 9am on Sundays from £1.95 for toast, full English at £6.25 and omelettes at £4.95. Soups, sandwiches and salads will range from £3.95 to £7.95. The flagship main meals element of the menu start at £7.00 with grills from £10.95 and steak from £9.95. Pudding will set you back a fiver and Sunday Lunch will be served from 12noon onwards in the traditional manner.
" A stone’s throw from the Contemporary is the Cross Keys pub on Byard Lane. A popular venue with locals, it is noted for its laidback charm and traditional pub grub” - The Guardian
"Thirsty after a hard day’s sightseeing? The newly refurbished Cross Keys is just the ticket” - East Midland’s Trains Magazine Top Pick
"Make no mistake, this place is now drop-dead gorgeous; an immaculate place to have a pint” - Leftlion Magazine
"Standing four-square behind British cuisine, the menu is laden with the saucy vernacular of the old country – homemade pudding, creamy mash, rich gravy, rump steak and rustic chips.” - Noshingham 2010
"The lounge area has a real gentlemen's club feel about it, an ideal place to chill out and chat. ” - Nottingham Post
"Such high quality” - Nottingham Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)
The Wines and Spirits
The small but perfectly formed cellar is stocked with 4 reds, 4 whites and 3 rose by award winning wine merchants Pagendam Pratt. Bubbly stuff is also be on sale as well as a supremely stacked back-bar for those looking to push the boat out a little further.
There are two plasma screens showing football, rugby and cricket in glorious HD, it's a sports bar by any means but we can’t ignore our national pastimes.
Artwork is being provided solely by local artists including stunning black and white street photography of Nottingham from Stephen Wright and a rather special one-off from local doodle hero turned proper grown up painter Rikki Marr.
Both have had work featured nationally with Stephen exhibiting at big fancy London galleries whilst winning a couple of gongs and Rikki graduating from painting his name on toilet walls to working for Unilever, EMI, Nike and Sony
View Stephen's work and learn more about him at:
Rikki Marr's website and The Shop collective on Canning Circus:
A LITTLE BIT OF RECOGNITION FROM THE GUARDIAN