The White Hart Inn is of possible 18th century origin (a building is depicted on the site on the 1775 ‘Map of the Manor of Hamstead Marshall’ and may even be earlier, considering its proximity to a 16th century timber framed cottage. The earliest documentary reference to the Inn appears to be in 1823; and in the 19th and 20th centuries it was used as a coroner’s court, timber saleroom, auction house and meeting place for the village. It was the first premise in Hamstead Marshall to be connected to main electricity in the 1950’s. Despite being undesignated, it should still be considered as a heritage asset of local significance.
[Source: From correspondence – Culture & Environmental Protection, West Berkshire Council]
The White Hart on the Kintbury Road is marked and named on an 1823 map, though it surely dates back much earlier. It was called the Old White Hart until very recently, and for at least 100 years served as coroner’s court, timber saleroom, auction house and general meeting place before the village acquired its own hall in 1933. As late as the early 1980s some Craven estate auctions were held here. The pub has always been the centre of village social life, most notably the annual Fawn Supper in Victorian times, which would be held after a cull of the park deer. This tradition died out in the early twentieth century, when it was replaced by harvest suppers arranged with the farmers.
(Hamstead Marshall Gazetteer)
Recent history of the White Hart Inn
The premises were sold by the Craven Estate, the historic owners of the whole village, to the
Gibbings family in 1966. Although there remains little available evidence from this period, a predecimalisation menu and its reputation known of by the Chairman of this group from as far away as the other side or Reading, marks the White Hart out as one of the original destination Inns.
In 1982, the Gibbings sold the business to Nicola (Nicky) and Dorothy Aromando who had been
successfully running the La Capannina restaurant in Newbury and before that the Capri in Reading. They enjoyed popular acclaim and a wide
following across the nation until they retired in 2004.
The Aromandos sold the White Hart business to Kevin and Camilla Reilly with backgrounds in both
catering and pub management. Unfortunately, due to personal reasons the doors closed in 2009.
After a period, during which the fabric of the building deteriorated, it was bought by the current
owner in 2010, extensively re-furbished and re-opened in 2011.
The pub, with only four owners in sixty years, is recorded as having failed financially only once in
that time, and that was this time – under the current owner.
It has probably only had five owners since the middle ages but then it may have struggled financially under the Puritans!