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The White Horse Inn Hockliffe

 The White Horse in 1917 [AD3717]
The White Horse in 1917 [AD3717]

The White Horse Inn, now known as the Old White Horse and White Horse Farm, stands on the eastern side of Watling Street in the area originally part of Chalgrave parish which was transferred to Hockliffe in 1929. It has also been known as the White Horse Hotel and the White Horse Farmhouse. The White Horse was listed by the former Department of the Environment in 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing describes it as dating from the late seventeenth century, of grey brick with red brick dressings and a clay tile roof. It has a projecting gabled wing to either end, the right hand wing has two sashes with glazing bars and the left hand wing has one. There is a right hand carriageway and a modern right hand round arched window. The property belonged to the Gilpin family from an early date, along with other inns in the village, and the writer Daniel Defoe [1659/60-1731) is believed to have been a frequent visitor [Soskin, Hockliffe and the Gilpin Family].

 Hertfordshire Hounds in front of the inn about 1906 [Z1130/60/10]
Hertfordshire Hounds in front of the inn about 1906 [Z1130/60/10]

On 16th October 1917 the White Horse Inn was put up for auction as part of the Hockliffe Grange estate. The inn is described in the sale catalogue [AD3717] as in a good state of repair and possessing some very fine carving, one piece of which is attached to a bresummer showing a table between two figures with the date 1566 and scrolls at each end. The catalogue's claim that the hostelry dates back to the Tudor period is presumably based on this carving. The inn was sold as Lot 9 together with an associated farm of 147 acres 3 roods and 14 perches, shown in blue on the map below. The description of the inn itself was as follows:

"The accommodation comprises: Two Parlours, Office, Bar, Tap Room, Billiard Room, Kitchen, Larder, etc., and on the Floor above Six Good Bed Rooms, Bath Room, fitted with bath, lavatory basin, W.C., Box Room. The portion of the House on the other side of the gateway contains Two Large Rooms on Ground Floor, Four Bed Rooms and Box Room over. Good well with pump to cistern in roof for general purposes. Drainage to dumb well. The drinking water is obtained from a well on Lot 18 and access to same is reserved to the Purchaser of this Lot. On one side there is a useful Kitchen Garden with Flower Garden and Lawn, and on the opposite side another Lawn until recently used as a Bowling Green."

The homestead attached to the inn comprises a brick-built and corrugated roof wood barn and three-bay shed, a brick built and tiled range of three cow houses (for 15 cows), a three-bay open shed with manger (for 7 cows) and chaise house, a timber and thatched four-bay open shed, a brick and slate three-bay cart shed, a timber and corrugated range of corn barn, hen house, loose box and stabling for 4 horses. The inn was a Free House, let to William Charles Pickering at £39.10s per annum; the farm was also let to Mr Pickering together with Lots 10 and 11 (totalling 24 acres of meadow land) for £200 per annum.

 Map showing the inn and farm [AD3717]
Map showing the inn and farm [AD3717]
to see a larger version please click on the image

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 ordered every piece of land and building in the country to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Chalgrave was assessed in 1926. The White Horse Inn must have closed soon after its sale in 1917 as by this time it was no longer functioning as a public house and had been divided into two separate houses owned by W. Dolemore, one rented by Mrs E. Davis for 10 shillings and the other by G. Dolemore for 8 shillings [DV1/C15/30-31]. The first consisted of two reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery, and an "old billiard room", with six bedrooms and a bathroom and W.C. upstairs. The valuer describes it as a "fine old place but very bad as at present used" with waste rooms and cesspool drainage. Outside there was a very small bay, a brick built old dairy now used as a coal cellar and a henhouse. The rateable value was reduced by 20% due to the age of the property. It was joined to the second property by a "nice" archway. This second house was apparently in rather better condition than the first, being described as in a very old house in good repair with a wood carving outside. Smaller than its counterpart, it had a reception room, a living room, a kitchen and three bedrooms. Another bedroom over the archway was not fit for use. Outside the property were a coal barn and an earth closet.

The Old White Horse about 1960 [PL/PH/2/32]
The Old White Horse about 1960 [PL/PH/2/32]

In 1933 the White Horse was converted to a boarding school; it was then used as a Tommy Gun range during the Second World War. It is now again been divided into two separate properties. The larger of these was put up for sale in 2007 with a guide price of £575,000 [Z449/2/2]. It still had a number of original features including exposed beams, fireplaces, latch and brace doors, and quarry tiled floors. The accommodation comprised:

  • Cellar: 25 feet by 10 feet 10 inches;
  • Ground floor: workshop (17 feet 7 inches by 14 feet 11 inches); kitchen/breakfast room (17 feet 1 inches by 14 feet 7 inches); utility room (9 feet 6 inches by 7 feet); study (12 feet 6 inches by 11 feet 11 inches); sitting/dining room (27 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 9 inches); annexe kitchen breakfast room (17 feet 3 inches by 10 feet 6 inches); annexe sitting room (16 feet 10 inches by 9 feet 9 inches); annexe dining room (27 feet 2 inches by 7 feet 1inch);
  • First floor: storage room (17 feet 7 inches by 14 feet 11 inches); storage room (17 feet 7 inches by 15 feet); bathroom; shower room; five bedrooms;
  • Outside: coal barn and workshop (14 feet 6 inches by 17 feet) with store rooms over (15 feet by 13 feet 3 inches and 14 feet 9 inches by 10 feet 6 inches) adjoining house

 The Old White Horse and White Horse Farm February 2013
The Old White Horse and White Horse Farm February 2013

In the following year the smaller property was also for sale with an asking price of £279,995 [Z449/2/2]. This property contained:

  • Ground floor: entrance hall; lounge; kitchen/diner;
  • First floor: three bedrooms (one en-suite); bathroom.


  • Z1130/60/10: Postcard of Hertfordshire Hounds in front of White Horse, c.1906
  • AD3717: Sale catalogue, 1917
  • DV1/C15/30-31: Valuation book for Chalgrave, 1926;
  • Z449/2/1-2: Sale catalogues, 2007-2008
  • Hockliffe and the Gilpin Family (D. G. Soskin)

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1828: Thomas Read;
1839: Christopher Walker;
1847-1869: John Heckford (and post office);
1876: John Green (also postmaster);
1917: William Charles Pickering.