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The following piece is an extract from the book “Woodstreet – the growth of a village”, compiled and written by Wood Street Village History Society and reproduced here with their kind permission.
We do not know how long The White Hart has been a beerhouse; we can only follow clues.
Henry Herrett bought the house and land in 1827 from the executors of the insolvent James Mills. Mill’s daughter Mille had married a Yorkshire innkeeper. The 1827 sale transaction mentions additional structures: cottages and buildings which had possibly been built much earlier. It is likely that the successful Cobbett blacksmith family of the eighteenth century enlarged the house. The ground plan from the 1841 tithe map shows that there has been substantially little change until very recently. There is no mention of a beerhouse on the site: Herrett himself was a carpenter, and he had sublet to wheelwrights.
The census of 1861 shows that William Hammond was the ‘beer shop keeper’, and ten years later his widow Susan was ‘grocer and beerhouse keeper’. They probably came before 1855, since their first child was born in the parish. There is no mention of The White Hart in the Brewster Sessions of the Guildford Magistrate’s Bench, nor is it marked on a map of 1870. A detailed return of Surrey Licensed Houses later in the century states that it was licensed as a beerhouse before 1869; this document also states that there was no accommodation for travellers or persons requiring refreshments other than intoxicating drink. There was no stabling provision for visitors, either. It can safely be stated , therefore, that The White Hart has never been an inn.
The Surrey Advertiser of Saturday 25th August 1877 contained an advertisement detailing the property being for sale by the executors of the late Mr John Chitty and currently being let to Messrs. Taunton at a rental of £30 per annum, and sub-let to Thomas Francis and George Lipscombe.
Neither Francis nor Lipscombe considered the beerhouse side of his business important enough to enter on his census return. It could possibly have been a job for the wives, but Mary Lipscombe then had eight children, including three under five years of age. It was more likely a retirement job; indeed, a directory of 1887 shows that Thomas Francis, then sixty four, was the beer retailer. In 1899 Walter Ellis, another partner in the wood-dealing business, took over for twelve years. A local government survey of 2nd April 1913 names Fanny Ellis as the occupier; the owners were by then Friary, Holroyd and Healy’s Breweries Ltd., Guildford. Fanny Ellis paid twenty pound a quarter rent, which still included the garden and orchard (now Seagry) but not the cottage. The entry reads: “An old brick and tiled building known as The White Hart containing Tap Room, Bar Parlour, Clubroom, passage, small cellar on ground floor, Private sitting room, kitchen, and good sized pantry, three good bedrooms and two small; some are very low but are nicely situated in good decorative order. One small room downstairs is now turned into a shop for groceries. Good garden and orchard at rear.” The valuation was £1,200.
In 1912/13 Fanny Ellis was succeeded by Robert Lipscombe. The dynasty ended in 1925.
The paraffin lamps in the bar, and the pump and well in the kitchen were next tended by Herbert Lintott. When his faithful service ended in 1958, he and his son Bert could look back proudly over all their improvements: “now we have electric light and all conveniences”.
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