History of The White Hart Inn, Trudoxhill, Frome.
Written by Robert and Julie Viney, joint freeholders since 1984.
The name Trudoxhill comes from the Old English. ‘Treow’ meaning tree, ‘dox’ meaning dark and ‘hyll’ for hill. It is thought that there has been a settlement in the village since late Saxon times.
The White Hart Inn is situated at the centre of the village and it appears to have occupied that position for more than 300 years.
The White Hart Inn Originates From 17th Century
It is thought the oldest part of the White Hart Inn was originally built in the late 17th century and over the years, since, a number of extensions have been added.
The oldest and original part is what presently constitutes the main bar with the large open fireplace. A cast iron plaque situated a small way up the large chimney denotes the date ‘1688’ suggesting the date of the original construction.
But confusingly, an inscribed stone plaque set over the front door denotes the age ‘1692’ – jokingly it has been suggested that the original occupants took 4 years to find their way out of the building!
Some of the other remaining buildings and cottages immediately adjacent to The White Hart Inn are of a similar age and construction, including the old Chapel house, which is reputed to be the second oldest in England dating back to 1699 – some 11 years later than The White Hart Inn.
The White Hart Has Been An Inn For 200 Years
The White Hart Inn is thought to have been a public house for at least the past 200 years – quite possibly longer. Around the early 1800s, an extension to the building was added to the left-hand side of the building, as viewed from the front. This downstairs part of this extension is presently used as the restaurant and dining room.
Originally, this was used to stable horses, as during its early days, The White Hart Inn welcomed travellers as a coaching inn.
Here, horses were changed for the journey and subsequently rested, fed and watered.
About the same time, a building to the rear of the main building was built to ‘house’ a smithy for the ‘shoeing’ of the horses.
During World War Two, The White Hart Was Used To Entertain The American GI’s
An upstairs floor above the stable block was used as a meeting room and dance hall for the village until the construction of the village hall sometime in the mid 20th century.
The second world war years saw American GI’s being entertained in this room by the locals.
The 20th Century Saw Many Changes
The 20th century saw more building additions including a kitchen to the rear of the building, joining the main building to what was the ‘smithy’ to the rear, along with a toilet block and adjacent car park.
The main bar boasts thick stoned wall constructed from the local Mendip stone and the large fire place. It is thought it was originally constructed like this but at some stage in its history, the fireplace was boarded up and the walls were rendered to cover the lovely stone walls.
During the late 19th Century and up to the middle of the 20th Century, the White Hart was owned by Ushers Brewery at Trowbridge before being bought by Len and Pat Lock for a modest price of just £6,000.00.
They owned and run the pub for approximately 15 years and became very popular landlords, bonding the village and the pub.
Len Restored The White Hart Inn
Len was a practical man and he undertook to restore the White Hart back to its original state, including removing the rendering from the internal walls and opening up the large fireplace in the bar. Much of the internal appearance of the bar and restaurant was down to his endeavours.
Len was also a blacksmith by trade and used the building to the rear of the pub to ply his ‘smithy’ trade.
It is often said that a thirsty visitor to the White Hart Inn would enter the bar to find no one serving. On hearing the clanking of metal on metal in the building to the rear, the visitor would go around the back to be told by Len to help themselves and to put the money in the ‘tin’ – they were the days!
Sadly, Len died of a heart attack on the stairs to the rear of the pub going up to the living accommodation.
Len’s Memory Lives On
But his memory lives on.
Up to this day, his presence can still be observed.
Many times, when we have been sitting downstairs in the bar after a busy night in the pub, Len could be heard and felt walking around upstairs – his footsteps could be heard, the floorboards would move and vibrate and dust would be dislodged from the ceiling beams, as he walked over them!
In 1988, we converted the stable building to the rear of the White Hart into a brewery and as a tribute to Len Locke, we named one of our beers ‘Tanker’ after Len – ‘Tanker’ being his nickname.
Pat Lock, who had moved away from Somerset following Len’s death, returned to the White Hart Inn to officially open the Ash Vine Brewery and to pull the first pint of ‘Tanker’ beer.
A great honour for us.
We Took Over In 1984
We took over the White Hart in 1984 and then the pub comprised three bars – a public bar and lounge bar, and a ‘jug and bottle’, sandwiched in between.
The ‘jug and bottle’ was a very small bar, just a few feet square and was a small room where the villagers could come and buy beer and cider to takeaway for their home consumption.
During the summer months, the ‘jug and bottle’ was a room, farmers could come and purchase cider for their thirsty workers, without changing from their ‘working’ clothes.
Under our stewardship, we extended the pub kitchen to offer good food along with good beer, cider and wine and in order to accommodate the increased trade, we converted the three bar areas into the one long bar, that it is presently.
We were very careful to do the works in the tradition of The White Hart Inn and in keeping with the way that Len had performed much of his work prior to our stewardship.
Sam Green-Armytage Started Working At The White Hart
During the late 1990’s a young man, Sam Green-Armytage started working in the kitchen of The White Hart under our management. This sparked a personal interest in cooking for the young Sam, leading him to train to chef status.
In 2018, we are very pleased to report that Sam Green-Armytage has returned to the White Hart Inn, along with his mother Joss Green-Armytage as very welcome hosts, leaseholders & owners of The White Hart Inn Business with the mission of returning the pub to the glory days achieved before them.
Sam & Joss Green-Armytage have lived in the village for many years and have run the very successful ‘The Place To Stay’ at Knoll Hill Farm located at the top of the village.
Sam And Joss Are Both Determined To Keep The Traditions Going
Both Joss and Sam, having strong affinities with the White Hart Inn, are very determined to keep the traditions going.
For many years, it has been the meeting place and focus for the villagers, but it has also satisfied the thirst and hunger of many travellers and visitors in its unique traditional 17th century atmosphere.
The Future Is Very Bright
We are very pleased to think the future of this popular Inn is very secure under the stewardship of Sam and Joss Green-Armytage.
If you have never visited the White Hart Inn, please give Sam and Joss a visit …
… and, of course, don’t forget to raise a glass and say “hello” to the great Len, too.