White Hart

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The White Hart, Frimley
The White Hart pub sign
White Hart as a Royal Badge of Richard II

The White Hart ("hart" is an archaic word for a mature stag) was the personal badge of Richard II, who probably derived it from the arms of his mother, Joan "The Fair Maid of Kent", heiress of Edmund of Woodstock. It may also have been a pun on his name, as in "Rich-hart".[1] In the Wilton Diptych (National Gallery, London), which is the earliest authentic contemporary portrait of an English king, Richard II wears a gold and enamelled white hart jewel, and even the angels surrounding the Virgin Mary all wear white hart badges. In English Folklore, the White Hart is associated with Herne the Hunter.

There are still many inns and pubs in England that sport a sign of the White Hart, the fifth most popular name for a pub.[2]

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a collection of science fictional tall tales under the title of Tales from the White Hart, which used as a framing device the conceit that the tales were told during drinking sessions in a pub named the White Hart that existed somewhere between Fleet Street and the Embankment. This pub was fictional, but was based on a real pub named the White Horse where the science fiction community of London met in the 1940s and 1950s.

British Inns called the White Hart[edit]


The White Hart Hotel in Braintree dates back as far as the 14th Century in its current guise, and was placed at the crossroad of two Roman roads that form the centre of Braintree town and Bocking. It was a coaching inn that ran services to Sudbury and Norwich daily, up until the arrival of the railway in 1848. It has recently had a renovation by its currents owners and provides an affordable stay.


The White Hart in Brentwood is the oldest pub in the town, dating back to before 1480. It may have been so named after King Richard II passed through Brentwood in 1392, possibly staying at the inn. It became a coaching inn in the 18th century and survived long enough that in 1910 even offered repairs to motor vehicles.[3] Now operating as a nightclub and restaurant called Sugar Hut. The building can be seen on reality TV programme,'The Only Way Is Essex'.


The White Hart in Canterbury probably dates from Victorian times, but is reputed to be built on the site of St Mary de Castro, demolished around 1486,[4] the mortuary of which is now the pub's cellar and still has a body chute. The small park next door crossed by a diagonal path is the graveyard, with gravestones lined up against the wall. The pub has a very nice garden, with bat and trap in summer.


Part of a quaint market village on the route between Braintree and Colchester, the White Hart Inn at Coggeshall dates back as far as 1420, and still has many of its original features, notably the timber rooms housing up to 18 beds. There is also a large meeting room available for hire.


Crawley's White Hart Inn opened in 1770.
Further information: White Hart Inn, Crawley

Crawley became an important coaching stop on the London to Brighton road after it became fully turnpiked in 1770.[5] By 1668, a mid-15th century Wealden open hall-house which was originally a dwelling had been converted into an inn called The Whyte Harte, later standardised to The White Hart.[6] The great increase in coaching traffic in the late 18th century meant its capacity was often exceeded; so it was sold in 1753 and the proceeds were used to establish a new White Hart Inn nearby.[7] This was built around the core of an early 17th-century timber-framed building, and opened in 1770.[8] As of 2011, it continues to trade under the White Hart name, as a tied house owned by Harveys Brewery.[9]

Dartington, Totnes[edit]

The White Hart is the name of the bar and restaurant within the estate of Dartington Hall, near Totnes in Devon. The medieval Dartington Hall was built for John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon and half-brother to Richard II of England. The Dartington Morris Men side was formed at Dartington Hall in 1968 and was given permission to use the crest of the white hart on a red rose as its emblem.


In Edinburgh, "The White Hart" is an inn in the Grassmarket, established early in the 16th century. It stood a few hundred steps from the place where public hangings were held, and was popular among spectators. Robert Burns and William Wordsworth were among its notable visitors, and Burke and Hare found some of the victims of their murder-for-body-parts scheme there.[citation needed]


There is a string of White Hart pubs along what was one of the old main coaching inn roads from London to Salisbury. These are at: Hook (The White Hart and The Old White Hart), Basingstoke, Worting, Overton, Whitchurch, Andover, Stockbridge and Salisbury in east Wiltshire .


"The Olde White Harte" in Silver Street, Kingston upon Hull, was built c.1660, and remodelled in 1881 as a romantic re-imagining of a 17th-century inn. The exterior is in the Artisan Mannerist style, the interior has extensive wood panelling, including 17th century work; the building is Grade II* listed. Local legend, thought to originate in the 19th century and now considered unlikely to be correct, links the building with Sir John Hotham, and the English Civil War;[10] the wood panelled first floor room known as the "Oak Room" or "Plotting Parlour" is the supposed location where Sir John Hotham and others took the decision to refuse King Charles I entry to the town, precipitating the First Siege of Hull.[11]

"The White Hart" is in Alfred Gelder Street, Kingston upon Hull. It was built in 1904 and frequented by the poet Philip Larkin, who gave a talk to the Jazz Record Society entitled ‘My Life and Death as a Record Reviewer’ here in 1977.[12]

Isle of Wight[edit]

The White Hart in Havenstreet is close to the main centre of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and has a railway theme.


The White Hart in Llangybi was first built in the early 16th century and was to become the property of Henry VIII as part of Jane Seymour's wedding dowry, while a century later Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have used it as his headquarters in Monmouthshire during the English Civil War. The interior still retains no fewer than 11 fireplaces from the 17th century, a wealth of exposed beams, original Tudor period plasterwork and even a priest hole.

For years, students of English literature were mystified by a couple of lines in the poem 'Usk' written by T.S. Eliot.[13] In 2003, The Guardian reported that T. S. Eliot made cryptic reference to this pub in his poem "Usk", referring not to an animal but to The White Hart Village Inn. Touring Wales in 1935 the poet had visited the old hostelry which does indeed stand near the village well, once painted white and now in ruins.[14]


The White Hart at Ringwood in the New Forest is said to have been the first pub so named, after King Henry VII caught such a beast nearby, had it leashed and led it back to the town in triumph, a legend with the flavour of political allegory.[15]

Rowen, Conwy[edit]

White Hart Road is the name given to a section of hill land road enclosed from common land in the parish of Caerhun high above the village of Rowen, in the Conwy Valley. It was planned as a new part of the Royal Mail coach road from Llanbedr y Cennin to Abergwyngregyn before the A55 coast road was built linking Chester to Holyhead around Penmaenmawr. The enclosure award still shows the name White Hart, which is very unusual for a road name rather than inns.

Sherborne, Dorset[edit]

The White Hart Pub. Sherborne - geograph.org.uk - 1502034

There is a long-established pub called the White Hart on the high street in Sherborne.


The Great House at Sonning in Sonning, Berkshire, on the banks of the River Thames, was formerly known as the White Hart because Richard II's wife, Isabella of Valois was kept prisoner in the village after his death.[citation needed]

Southwark, London[edit]

The White Hart, Southwark

An inn at the sign of the "White Hart" was established in the medieval period on Borough High Street in Southwark. It is mentioned by William Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 2 as the headquarters of the rebels in Jack Cade's 1450 Kentish rebellion. Louis L'Amour mentions the Southwark White Hart in "Sackett's Land", an historical fiction taking place circa 1600. It became one of the many famous coaching inns in the days of Charles Dickens, and it was here that Sam Weller met Mr Pickwick in the famous scene from The Pickwick Papers, chapter 10.[16] The Inn was pulled down in the 19th century. It was next door to The George Inn and near the site of The Tabard.

Also in Southwark, but approximately 0.5 km to the west, the White Hart at 22 Great Suffolk Street was built in 1882. It survived redevelopment of the surrounding area and is now the only Victorian public house on that street.

St Keverne[edit]

The "White Hart" in St Keverne, Cornwall was the birthplace, in 1764, of the singer and actor Charles Incledon.[citation needed]

Thatcham, Berkshire[edit]

The White Hart in Thatcham is mentioned in Coaching days and coaching ways (1888) by W. Outram Tristram.


The White Hart Inn in Witham is situated in the north centre of the town, and has been situated there since the late 13th Century. Based at the top of Newland Street, it sits pretty as one of the many old buildings in the town, and has since 2006 been refurbished to an authentic state that it was originally in.


Mortimer Menpes, "The White Hart, Witley".

The White Hart, the village pub in Witley, is mostly Elizabethan and is said to stand on the site of an Anglo-Saxon inn. It is reputed to have one of the oldest continuous licences of any pub in England.[17] Myles Birket Foster painted the picture-board for it in around 1875; this is now in the Victoria and Albert museum in London.[18]

American Inns called the White Hart[edit]

Salisbury, Connecticut USA[edit]

The White Hart Inn in Salisbury, Connecticut is named after one of the Hampshire taverns of the same name.[citation needed] It has operated as a post-road inn since 1867, though its physical structure dates back to 1806, when part of the current building was constructed as a private residence. It has a dining room, a pub, and numerous guest rooms and suites in the main building and in the adjoining Gideon Smith House. It was reported that the White Hart Inn in Salisbury has closed and is for sale as of November 2010. In May 2014, the Inn was sold for $2.9 million to an investor group led by Thomas Conley Rollins Jr., a New York investment banker who has a home in nearby Sharon.[19] The group hopes to reopen the landmark by August 2014.



  1. ^ Fox-Davies, Arthur=location=London (1909). A Complete Guide to Heraldry. TC & EC Jack. 
  2. ^ Pub names: 5.White Hart.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^ Qichina (2006). "Boredtown - Brentwood History". A Grumpy Old Man in Brentwood, Essex muses on small town life. Retrieved 2006-05-08. 
  4. ^ "St Mary de Castro". 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  5. ^ Gwynne 1990, p. 94.
  6. ^ Hygate 1994, p. 9.
  7. ^ Hygate 1994, p. 12.
  8. ^ Harris, Roland B. (December 2008). "Crawley Historic Character Assessment Report" (PDF). Sussex Extensive Urban Survey (EUS). English Heritage in association with Crawley Borough Council. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  9. ^ "Hop Around Our Pubs". Harvey & Son (Lewes) Ltd. 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  10. ^ Historic England. "The Old White Hart Inn (1197696)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Sheahan, James Joseph (1864). General and concise history and description of the town and port of Kingston-upon-Hull. Simpkin, Marshall & Co. pp. 605, 106–7. 
  12. ^ The Larkin Trail
  13. ^ TS Eliot: "Do not hope to find The white hart behind the white well...".
  14. ^ Ezard, John (2003-08-06). "TS Eliot scholar finds answer to pub poet's riddle". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  15. ^ The dynastic Wars of the Roses between supporters of the rival houses of Lancaster and York, for the throne of England were begun when the legitimate king, Richard II, was deposed by the Lancastrian Henry of Bolingbroke, and ended in the victory of Henry VII, the Lancastrian claimant, who married the Yorkist heiress. These events were not obscure, as they may seen today.
  16. ^ "There are in London several old inns," Dickens begins. "It was in the yard of one of these inns—of no less celebrated a one than the White Hart—that a man was busily employed in brushing the dirt off a pair of boots."
  17. ^ Valerie Box, Witley & Milford in living memory : a compilation of oral and archive material on the 20th century for the villages and surrounding areas. Witley Parish Council 1999.
  18. ^ http://images.vam.ac.uk/item/O55929/pub-sign-the-white-hart-pub-sign/
  19. ^ http://courantblogs.com/ct-real-estate/historic-salisbury-inn-purchased-for-2-9-million/


  • Gwynne, Peter (1990). A History of Crawley (1st ed.). Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-718-6. 
  • Hygate, Nâdine (1994). 49, High Street, Crawley. Horsham: Performance Publications. 

External links[edit]