Our History

The White Hart is a 14th century pub in the picturesque Cotswold village of Castle Combe.

 

The village takes its name from the 12th century castle which stood 600 metres to the north of the village.  The castle was a medieval motte and bailey castle standing on a limestone spur overlooking the Bybrook River.  It was probably built by the de Dunstanvilles in the 12th century and was unusual in that it had a keep with at least four and possibly five baileys.  Little other than earthworks now mark where the castle once stood.

 

Castle Combe’s prosperity was based on sheep and wool and by the Middle Ages the village had become an important centre for the wool industry.  The spinsters and weavers lived in the local cottages, giving rise to such names as “Weaver’s House” while the river, still known as By Brook, provided the power to run the mills.

 

A symbol of royalty

Heraldic badges of royalty have given rise to many of the most common pub names in the UK, The White Hart is one of them.  An inescapable part of British folklore, the mystical qualities of the White Hart have led to it being adopted as a symbol of royalty.  The White Hart was King Richard II’s personal heraldic badge, who probably derived it from the arms of his mother, Joan “The Fair Maid of Kent”, heiress of Edmund of Woodstock.

Hart is an archaic word for stag, derived from the old English word heorot meaning deer.  Hart was used in medieval times to describe a red deer stag more than five years old.  A white hart is a red deer stage with a condition known as Leucism, a rare genetic pattern that causes a reduction in the pigment of an animal’s hair and skin.  Rare and revered in equal measure, the white hart is seen as a symbol of purity, redemption and good fortune.

 

Market Cross

The 14th century Market Cross that sits opposite the White Hart was erected when the privilege to hold a weekly market in Castle Combe’s two village water pumps.  Small stone steps located near the cross were for horse riders to mount and dismount and close by are the remains of the villages butter cross.  Dating from medieval times, the butter cross was where people from neighbouring villages would gather to buy locally produced butter, milk and eggs.  The fresh produce would be laid out and displayed on the circular stepped bases on the cross.

Map of Wiltshire, 1773

This map shows the location of Castle Combe’s Castle from a map drawn up in 1773.

The village takes its name from the 12th century castle which stood 600 metres to the north of the village.

Where Tradition meets Great Service

The White Hart is a 14th century pub in the picturesque Cotswold village of Castle Combe.
The village takes its name from the 12th century castle which stood 600 metres to the north of the village.

View of the Village today

Ancient buildings line the streets and lead down from Market Cross. This picture shows the stone structure erected to aid mounting of horses.

Meet Our Team

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