History of The White Hart

The White Hart is said to be haunted by the spirit of Judge Jeffreys (the Hanging Judge), who was born in 1645 into a family tradition of law. After being made Lord Chancellor in 1685, Judge Jeffreys embarked on a series of legal trials that would forever cement him in the dubious ranks of England’s nastiest law enforcers, a viable massacre, the responsibility of which could have caused his spirit to become restless after his death in 1689.

When James II, who was unpopular amongst some Protestants, became King in 1685, the illegitimate son of Charles II gathered supporters and attempted to take the throne. This came to be known as the Monmouth Rebellion. In the trials knows as the Bloody Assizes Jeffreys ordered executions, whippings, hangings and fines of over 300 people, 144 of them in only two days. The rest, mainly farmers and labourers, wage earners whom a large number of people depended on, were transported to the West Indies, leaving their communities bereft.

The White Hart was a monk’s brewing house and the centre of the village in the 17th Century. Local legend suggests it was a scene of a curious brush with fame in the summer of 1685 when Judge Jeffrey visited the White Hart on the way to the Bloody Assizes. The pubs layout has changed in recent centuries and the door in which he would have entered is now situated in the middle of the restaurant. Around the table directly in front of this old door ‘something’ has brushed past our customers and a shadow suggestive of a man in a long dark cloak has been spotted out of the corners of peoples’ eyes. The beer garden of the White Hart Inn boasts a stunning panorama view of Bulbarrow Hill. It backs directly onto a field where villagers regularly walk their dogs. It was here that one local witnessed his three dogs stop still on the track running alongside the wall of the nearby manor's garden. A figure was standing a little way off, a man in dark, indiscernible clothes, turned to the side in profile. The normally over-friendly dogs did not bound up to greet this stranger; instead they stayed where they were or clustered around the eyewitness's legs. As he neared the figure he saw it approach him then turn swiftly to the left, around the curve of the wall, disappearing into the unmanageable shrubs and undergrowth which lay there. The dark-clothed man had disappeared unnaturally quickly and there was no evidence of the shrubbery having been pushed aside or broken by any physical activity.

Do let us know if you spot Judge Jeffreys in our pub! (source Wiki Nut)


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Bishops Caundle, Sherborne,
Dorset. DT9 5ND

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