Essex Days ; The White Hart, Witham,

by Veronica

Decades BEFORE Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, the lovely old White Hart Pub was serving its community. I stayed here this week.

When I visit Essex, in South East England near London, I stay here, at The White Hart in Witham
.( pronounced WIT- HAM ). It is a centuries-old pub /hotel and you can call in for food, drink or to stay.

I always think of the people over hundreds of years who have walked, talked, slept and eaten in the places that I visit so I decided to take a look into The White Hart.

The photos are my own taken yesterday and I have used newspaper reports for other items of interest. I have also used census material.

The White Hart,

The White Hart has been added to and extended over the years but the oldest parts of it are believed to have dated from approx 1430. 

It stands on the main road in Witham and it easy to imagine coaches stopping there over the centuries, on the way to London, approx 50 miles away. 

c 1430
c 1430

Fireplaces

The whole place is a fascinating blend of very old and less old features. The fireplace in one of the dining rooms is particularly interesting.  Take a look at the brickwork at the back of the fireplace. This is an indication of age. The fire surround does not extend into the room. Again this is evidence of how old this fireplace is, although I do not know the date. 

Brickwork at the back
Brickwork at the back

Joists and connections

These pieces of wood are evident around the building. Take a look at how the medieval timber-framed buildings were actually assembled. Pieces of wood slotted together. 

see the holes in the wood
see the holes in the wood
exposed beams inside the building
exposed beams inside the building

Items of interest

18th Century / 1760s

Thursday 26th August 1742 was the date of one of the regular Assemblies or Balls held at the White Hart in their rooms. 

During the 18th Century, The White Hart regularly advertised its own " taxi " service of a Post Chaise for hire. The back of the building has quite a lot of space. Maybe the post Chaises with their careful drivers were stored there.  ( Pictures below )

Flowers everywhere

the post chaise store ?
the post chaise store ?

Importance of the railways

A prospect as important as the coming of the railways was widely discussed in the 1830s and of course, the main meetings in the town were held at The White Hart. The railway was going to run from the nearby port of Maldon and would run through to Witham, Kelvedon, Coggeshall, Bocking and Braintree. From these places, it would be easier and quicker to reach London and Cambridge. The railway was due to be built and run alongside the River Blackwater. 

In fact, I travelled home from Witham station yesterday afternoon.  :) 

Fox Hunting 1900s

The East Essex Hounds would meet at The White Hart before going on a day's fox hunting. Fox hunting is mainly banned now in England. 

Census Records

1881  The White Hart :-

George Fulcher  ( Licensed Victualler ) 

Emma Fulcher 

William Fulcher

Ernest Fulcher 

Emma Brown ( servant )

.................................................................................................................

The 1939 World War 2 Register lists as living at The White Hart :-

James Seal  (Manager )

( Ethel ) Clara Seal  (Manageress)

Elizabeth Bevan ( Cook )

Dorothy Barber ( Waitress )

Ernest W Rees ( Medical Practitioner )  Resident

Charles De Trense ( Dental Surgeon )   Resident

World War 2 deaths

1940

It is believed that every family in Britain was affected by the war and The White Hart community was no different. 

The "Essex Newsman " paper reported that 16-year-old John Woodcock, a waiter at The White Hart, was killed in action in the North Sea. 

1949

Frankie Miekle, the wife of the White Hart's Landlord, took part in a local drama performance of " Staff Dance "  which was written by well-known character actor Robert Morley in 1944. Frankie's  husband, White Hart landlord Captain Miekle,  had taken part in a raid on Rommel's headquarters in the desert. 

March 1950

A daring robbery took place in March 1950 when a thief boldly walked into the manager's, took the keys to the safe and stole £400.00. This was a massive amount for the time and would be approx £14,500 today. 

White Hart

beams inside the hotel
beams inside the hotel

Conclusion

I love The White Hart, Witham, and it has been interesting turning up some facts about it. The place is lovely, the rooms, staff, food are excellent. 

If you are in England and close to Essex, you must visit. It is delightful. 

Updated: 07/31/2021, Veronica
 
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Comments

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Veronica on 08/05/2021

Frank, yes it is over 5 years since you and your lovely wife stayed at The white hart, overnight for our son's wedding.
Our niece has certainly never forgotten it.

Veronica on 08/05/2021

Writer Artist
I am glad you got the " feel " of the place with the photos and the writing.
It has a great atmosphere about it.

Veronica on 08/05/2021

Frank
Spot on. The White Hart is just as you say. It probably has some woodland significance

Veronica on 08/05/2021

Yes it certainly was difficult here as Greater Manchester went into Tier 4 and we were not allowed to leave Greater Manchester city area
So we are making the most of it.

blackspanielgallery on 08/03/2021

Interesting. You are fortunate things are open again. Travel a few months back was difficult.

frankbeswick on 08/03/2021

The white hart is a figure in Arthurian legend, which being elusive symbolizes humanity's spiritual quest. Arthur, of course, had no connection with the area or the building.

WriterArtist on 08/03/2021

Your journey to White Hart in England certainly reminded me of old inns and heritage sites in India. Sadly, I haven't visited any in India and do not recall having visited old inns. The White Hart looks lovely with its old charm refurbished and renovated. I must say, they have done a good job of preserving it.

frankbeswick on 08/03/2021

Beams were made from native hardwoods. Oak was favoured, but elm, sweet chestnut and poplar were also used. Elm was a popular and common wood.

frankbeswick on 08/03/2021

Maureen and I enjoyed our stay at the White Hart when we went down for your son's wedding. Hart is an old English term for a stag.

Veronica on 08/02/2021

Ty Derdriu
I have a Sony Camera but these shots were taken on my phone as I did not take my bulky camera with me as I was flying. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy.
I would like to know what sort of wood was used too, as it has certainly stood the test of centuries in time.
The door lintels are fairly low, which is OK for me but my tall husband has to bend his head when he goes into the bedroom.


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