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The White Horse Public House Wilshamstead

The White Horse about 1925 [WL800/5]
The White Horse about 1925 [WL800/5]

The White Horse Public House: Bedford Road, Wilshamstead

The earliest reference to an inn named the White Horse in Wilshamstead is in 1623 when Thomas Bigg of Wilshamstead, yeoman, leased his farmhouse "having now the signe of the White horse, and used as an Inn" from Francis Clarke of Houghton Conquest for twelve years together with an adjoining close of pasture of five acres along with thirty six acres of arable and two acres of meadow in the occupation of Nicholas Cawne and William Palmer in Wilshamstead [P30/25/40]. This has nothing to do with the later White Horse and its location is unknown.

The countywide licensing register of 1876 stated that the White Horse beerhouse on Bedford Road was first licensed in 1846. At that date it was stated to be owned by Hertfordshire brewer Simpson & Company of Baldock but this is an error, the register often confuses the owner with the principal tenant and, as we shall see, the owners were the Creasey family.

A packet of deeds for the White Horse [WL1000/1/Wils1/1] dates back to 1786 when Thomas Daniel of Wilshamstead, yeoman and Mary, his wife, who had inherited the property from Mary’s father William Russell of Wootton, mortgaged a newly built cottage together with another cottage and six acres, two roods of land in various locations, to James Garret of Wilshamstead, yeoman, for 50% and interest [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/1]. In 1788 Garret assigned the mortgage to James Beldham of Carlton, sheep dealer [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/2].

Then in 1791 Joseph Garrett bought the property from Daniel and his mortgagee for £130 [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/3]. In his will of 1794, proved in 1796 [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/4] Garret left the property to his brother Thomas and, after his death, to Thomas’ son Joseph. Joseph was mentally handicapped and in 1843 a case arose as to whether he had left the property to an Avis Wyche in his will and whether he had had sufficient understanding to do so [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/8]. The case was settled in favour of Richard Garratt, Joseph’s nephew who mortgaged it in 1844 [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/19]. By that date the land, following the inclosure of Wilshamstead, had become 5 acres, 2 roods, 12 poles in Mill Field and the cottages were now just one cottage, in the occupation of Mary Ann Willis or her undertenant William Bennett. An abstract of title [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/10] states that shortly after this mortgage, so, in 1844, Richard Garratt built a house on the land, dying in December that year without having made a will. This left another Richard Garratt, his only son, as his heir. Garratt junior owed £18/2/6 to Edward Smith and in December 1846, after another court case, Garratt was ejected from his property which was given to Smith.

In January 1847 Smith sold the property at auction. The particulars [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/11] described a brick and slate dwelling house “for some time occupied as a beer house and tap room” with a sitting room, kitchen, cellar, four bedrooms and a brewhouse. This ties in with the statement in the 1876 licensing register that the White Horse was first licensed in 1846. The property was sold to John Creasy or Creasey of Bedford, gentleman, for £560 [WL1000/1/Wils1/1/16].

The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the owner was then the executor of a Mr. Creasey of Bayswater [Middlesex]. The house was then unoccupied. It was half a mile from the nearest licensed premises (the Black Hat) and had a front door, a back door and a side gate entrance.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Like most of the county, Wootton was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the White Horse [DV1/C65/3] found that it was then owned by Charles Wells Limited and occupied by Alfred John Hebbs whose rent was £24 per annum, including nearby fields totalling just under ten acres and farm buildings comprising a weather-boarded and tiled chaff house, two piggeries, a brick and tiled cow house for two and stable for two, a barn with a dirt floor and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron cart shed. It is strange that the deeds, which were deposited by Charles Wells, do not include a conveyance to the firm but it probably occurred soon after 1903 if the property was then in the hands of an executor.

The beerhouse comprised a tap room, a bar parlour, a cellar, a living room and four bedrooms. The valuer commented: “Wells bought last year but did not raise the rent” and “Does not sell 18 gallons beer a week on average. A ‘sunshine house’ does well in nice summer weather”.

The site of the White Horse, which became a fully licensed public house on 9th February 1956, is now in the southern part of the new [2013] Wixams development. The house evidently closed for good at some point after 1996 [PSB9/2] and was then demolished.

Records:

  • P30/25/40: lease for twelve years of the White Horse: 1623;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/1: mortgage of cottage: 1786;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/2: mortgage: 1788;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/3: conveyance: 1791;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/4: will of Joseph Garrett: 1794-1796;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/9: mortgage of cottage: 1844;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/10: abstract of title of cottage: 1847;
  • WL1000/1/Wils1/1/16: conveyance: 1847;
  • GK165/12: conveyed to Baldock Brewery: 1898;
  • GK1/36: Baldock Brewery sale catalogue: 1903;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • GK165/17: assignment of lease to Wells and Winch: 1904;
  • WL800/5: photograph: c. 1925; LS693-695: sale at: 1926;
  • Z274/84: postcard: 1930s;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1869-1885: John Groom(s);
1891: Amelia Groom(s);
1903: Edward Crouch;
1903-1904: Walter John Scott;
1904-40: Alfred John Hebbes;
1966: James Arthur Luck;
1966-1968: Terence Hutton;
1968-1978: Ernest Lionel Lawley;
1978-1979: Ronald Daniel Margrave;
1979-1982: Peter Ronald Margrave;
1982-1983: George Austin Lewis;
1983-1986: Geoffrey Harry Russell;
1986-1988: Tony Leonard Henry Mardle;
1988-1992: Leonard John Addison;
1992-1995: Anthony William Thornton