MEM21972 - The White Hart Inn, Stables and Coach House, Fore Street and High Street, Dulverton (Building)


White Hart House has a sign that declares it to be the former 17th Century coaching inn described in Lorna Doone. Architectural fragments suggest it may have a much earlier, possibly 15th Century, date.

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Full Description

White Hart House has a sign written board that declares it to be the former 17th Century coaching inn described in Lorna Doone. Its two storey frontage to High Street has a large gable containing an attic storey. The ground floor has a deep semicircular arched entrance porch and adjoining round-headed windows with radial glazing bars. To the left are large timber mullion windows on both storeys, which tend to confirm the 17th Century date. [1] The White Hart is a mid to late 16th Century building, which served as an inn. Various trades and businesses have used parts of the building in the 20th Century, and two small buildings have been attached to it. [2] In 1795, the White Hart, on at least one occasion, served as an auction house. [3] The buildings were subject to rapid survey in 2011. They are a series of irregular structures with many projections or recessions of their frontages towards the streets and may represent encroachment on an original triangular marketplace. The original White Hart forms a 'C' or 'U' shaped range extending around a small courtyard to the southwest of the Town Hall. Further buildings southwest may be later encroachments and the White Hart may originally have had three principal facades. Only a small part of the southern section of the ground floor (within the 'High Society' hair salon) was inspected. The southern elevation of the building facing High Street is set back from the street frontage and with a large projection with an arcaded ground floor, which may originally have been open to the street. It strongly resembles a market hall or similar structure. On either side the recessed sections of the street frontage might represent parts of an original range, aligned southwest to northeast, to which this projecting structure was added; alternatively, both may be later infilling, with the projecting section representing the gable end of a long range aligned southeast to northwest. The northwest and central sections were examined and showed early features that suggest the building building is an example of market encroachment. The interior shows the projecting, arcaded section of the building has been added in front of an earlier fa├žade that jettied out towards the street. The ceiling within this jettied section, to the northwest, is supported by massive ceiling beams with deep chamfers, running northwest to southeast. It is uncertain whether the original frontage was closed by timber posts or mullions or, perhaps, open between widely-set posts in the manner of a timber market hall. It may have originally formed a 'loggia' or 'portico' outside the front wall of the early building but was annexed by the property by the early 18th Century and enclosed. Other architectural elements suggest other areas of the building that are now enclosed may also have formerly been open areas. The report concludes that the building may preserve parts of a 15th or 16th Century structure which has been heavily altered and partially obscured by later accretions. The building was probably constructed in the middle of a former open market place and could have originated as a free-standing structure. The addition of a loggia or portico at one end of the building and its proximity to a property formerly known from c.1720 as 'The Cage' or 'The Bastille' raises the interesting possibility that the former White Hart might have originated as a public building such as a Market House or even a Guildhall; a predecessor of the present Town Hall, with a lock-up jail in close proximity. [4] The Tithe Map for Dulverton shows a large building occupying the area where Fore Street meets High Street, centred at SS 9138 2787. This is labelled 2097. Running northeasterly along High Street from this building are four subsiduary buildings, labelled 2098 (SS 9139 2788), 2099 (SS 9139 2788), 2100 (SS 9140 2788) and 2101 (SS 9140 2789). The Apportionment describes these as owned by Betty Kingdon and occupied by Thomas Rossiter, with the individual land parcels as below: 2097: White Hart Inn; 2098: Stables; 2099: Coach House; 2100: Court; 2101: Stables. [5] The group appear to be similarly arranged on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, save that those buildings shown in plots 2099 and 2100 have been turned through 90 degrees so that one runs along High Street and the other is to its rear (northwest). [6] The arrangement noted in source [6] seems to be repeated on the 2018 MasterMap data, save that the main Inn building has been dubdivided. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Fisher, J.. c.2003. Dulverton Conservation Area Appraisal. p19.
  • <2> Monograph: Dulverton and District Civic Society. 2002. The Book of Dulverton, Brushford, Bury and Exebridge. Halsgrove. P.19, 29, 31, 43, 93, 99, 153, 155, Photographs.
  • <3> Monograph: Siraut, M.. 2009. Exmoor: The Making of an English Upland. Phillimore & Co. Ltd. 1st Edition. P.101.
  • <4> Report: Parker, R.W.. 2011. Historic Building Surveys of Buildings at Dulverton, Somerset. 11-14.
  • <5> Map: 1838. Dulverton Tithe Map and Apportionment. Land parcels 2097-2102.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap.



Grid reference Centred SS 9138 2788 (33m by 27m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS92NW

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Record last edited

Nov 12 2018 5:10PM


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