Another notch on a Friday and Saturday night out round town, the White Hart was a regular haunt back in the day, and is still going strong today. Brendan Jameson once told me that the inn was at sometime known as Robbins Coffee House, though if he told me when this was, I've long since forgotten. Records state that the building was an inn as early as 1702, although it’s only in 1711 that records first note the owner of the inn when it was purchased by Robert Wilson for £248.
Above. The White Hart in 2006.
Between 1711 and the mid 1700’s the White Hart was linked with a dissenting chapel, a hat shop and a newsroom. The building seems to have gone through a number of uses, before reverting back to an inn.
Above. The White Hart's sign, 2006.
An 1882 Westmorland Gazette article states “in Gilpin Rents (Steward to Alan Bellingham of Levens) there is mentioned a purchase by the same Bellingham of certain rents belonging to the chapel of St Ann, a portion of which rents, £1 10/- 6d, was due from the White Hart Inn or coffee house.” This possibly indicates that a portion of the building was let as a (dissenting) chapel, though whom this would relate to is not known, and I don't remember Brendan Jameson telling me. There is some confusion over whether the chapel of St Ann was at the inn. Local historian, John Marsh, though it may have been situated at Dockray Hall, although he indicated that it had a rental agreement with the owners of the White Hart Inn. Dockray Hall disappeared at the time of Cromwell’s Commonwealth government between 1649-59.
Above. Yard 2, Stricklandgate, home of the White Hart.
Above. Yard 2 viewed from Stricklandgate.
The White Hart enjoyed a reputation as a high class inn. However, with the arrival of the Commercial Hotel in around 1804, the inn’s fortunes dwindled. The inn’s trade was probably further affected by the opening of the White Hall Meeting Rooms (Town Hall) in 1825. The Union Lodge of the Freemasons met at the White Hart between 1797 and 1804, when it moved to the Commercial Hotel. Two years later they were meeting at the White Hart again, before moving on to the Golden Lion in 1808.
During the tenancies of John Atkinson (1781) and William Maskew (1786), coaches stopped here from Manchester, Liverpool and London every day at 3am and 5pm. A special coach ran from here every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday to Carlisle. James Webster, former butler at Casterton Hall, and sword bearer to the Corporation, became inn keeper at the White Hart in June 1803.
Richard Smith became inn keeper in 1813.
In 1814, a dance school opened up at the White Hart. Run by Mr Banks from Kelso, the school promised to “teach all the most fashionable dances now in practice.” In 1815, Mr Brooks announces in the Chronicle that he would be taking up ownership of the inn. Robert Brooks was inn keeper in 1821. In 1824, his wife Mrs Brooks took over. In 1833, the property was sold by William Petty to Thomas Sirr for £1015.
In 1880, the inn was sold to John Booth, a brewer from Ulverston for £1750. Kendal Coroporation was the next highest bidder for the inn.
An 1892 report states that the inn had four drinking rooms, five letting bedrooms and a large dining room. It had stabling for 18 horses. 1904, the inn was owned by Ulverston brewers Robert and Peter Hartley.