The White Horse, on the main street in the middle of Hedgerley, is popular with locals and visitors alike. Its appeal is a mixture of horticulture and history: outside, a great display of window boxes and hanging baskets; inside, a splendid array of timber beams and posts.
But just how old is the White Horse? The appeal of an old building is part of the stock-in-trade of the 'English pub'. Every one would like to have been a medieval coaching inn. Even in pubs new-built today you will find ‘old’ beams. Some may be genuinely old, brought in from a demolished building. Others are new, carefully ‘distressed’.
Most old pubs are a jigsaw puzzle of old and new, waiting for a historic building surveyor to sort them out. The White Horse was no exception.
The survey was done in summer 2010. It revealed, as expected, that the White Horse today is the result of additions and changes dating back across three centuries. Sadly, no medieval coaching inn. The oldest part of the building is the two-storey section of the building that is today the Public Bar and much of the main bar. It is built in brick with an oak-framed roof.
Generally, building in brick started in the 18th century – but because Hedgerley is known to have had its own brickmaking industry a late 17th-century date is not impossible. Brickwork on the north gable end of the building gives away the position of its original staircase, now gone, which would have been a winding stair beside the original fireplace, which is still there in the Publi Bar.
The 19th century added a large two-storey rear extension (today's servery and kitchen) and, late in Queen Victoria's reign, a replacement staircase.
The White Horse may never have been a medieval coaching inn, but for 200 years it certainly had a stable. This was rebuilt in the 1980s to extend the main bar.
The Hedgerley Poor Rate Book entry for 1679 indicates that there was then a building where the White Horse is today. This may not have been the building we see today, and it may not have been a pub. The first reference to a pub on the site comes in 1740, in documents formerly held by Wethered's Brewery. It is named as the White Horse in 1753, in the licensed victuallers' returns. Its builder was most likely William Grove, around 1679 or soon after.
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