Thursday, November 30, 2023

HGB Ep. 514 - White Hart Hotels

Moment in Oddity - Bat Bombs (Suggested by: Jared Rang)

Back in 1942, there was a secret government project taking place in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The United States was preparing for World War II. The government proposed a particularly unusual idea for bomb delivery on Japan. The method considered was bat bombs. No, I didn't say bath bombs, I said bat bombs. The idea was to collect bats, secure bombs to their bodies and release them over Japan. The bats would then roost inside buildings since they prefer dark places and then the bombs would explode. A test of the experiment was conducted in 1943. Army officers collected bats from the Carlsbad Caverns. The animals were cooled to induce sleep and then strapped with the incendiary bombs. They were subsequently flown into the sky over the New Mexico air base and released. The warm sun woke the unfortunate creatures and they then roosted in the air control towers, hangers and other buildings on the base. The 15 minute fuses on the bombs then performed as expected, setting fires to all the structures. Despite the bats near perfect execution of the government's classified plan, the project was cancelled. It was deemed impossible to trust bomb delivery by the cave dwelling residents. There have been many methodologies employed in warfare preparation, but using bomb banded bats to incinerate your enemies certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Rock and Bullwinkle Show Premiered

In the month of November, on the 19th, in 1959, 'The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends' premiered. Many of us are familiar with the animated series that always had Bullwinkle stating, (("Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat" with Rocky's response being, "Again?")). The American television series ran from 1959 to 1964 and featured Bullwinkle the moose and Rocky the squirrel as its main characters. The cartoon experienced various name changes through the years and was titled 'The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show' once in syndication. Produced by Jay Ward Productions, the cartoon followed the structure of a variety show. The primary antagonists were two Russian spies, Boris and Natasha along with side stories featuring 'Dudley Do-Right', 'Peabody's Improbable History' and 'Fractured Fairy Tales'. Like many cartoons of the time, the show appealed to both children and adults. The episodes were known for their cultural and topical satire as well as puns and droll sense of humor. It was one of the earliest cartoons to outsource its animation leaving the show with a raw, unfinished look in comparison to its competitors. However, 'The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show' has been held in high regard by television viewers as well as critics. Over the years there have been film adaptations of the cartoon and its assorted segments, the latest of which is a reboot that premiered on Amazon Prime in 2018.

White Hart Hotels (Suggested by: Ali Pittaway)

The White Hart Stag was once the personal badge of the king, and businesses and people would display it to show their allegiance. Today, there are still dozens of inns in the United Kingdom that bear the name White Hart. Each of them is unique, but all are very historic having stood for over hundreds of years. Many of them are reputedly haunted. Join us as we venture around the United Kingdom and explore the history and hauntings of the White Hart Hotels.

First, let's talk about the name White Hart. The name White Hart is popular for a reason. Hart is an archaic word for a stag. White Hart was the personal badge of Richard II and this depicts a white stag with a gold crown around its neck. The term is also connected to Herne the Hunter in English folklore. Herne was apparently the ghost of a former Windsor Forest keeper who had horns and liked to haunt a particular oak tree, shake chains and make cattle produce blood rather than milk. An illustration of Herne by George Cruikshank from 1843, depicts the figure on a horse, riding with hounds and an owl at his side. The legend of Herne was made famous by Shakespeare and no stories seem to predate that time period. There are some who believe that Herne was derived from the European folklore about the Wild Huntsman, a Gaulish deity known as Cernunnos. That figure is associated with stags as well, but really strangely, it is also connected to horned serpents and usually carries a bag of grain and wears a metal neck ring called a torc. We lost count of the number of inns with the name White Hart in the United Kingdom because there are so many. The oldest being the one in Witley, Surrey that is Elizabethan in style and stands on the site of an Anglo-Saxon Inn and probably was a royal hunting lodge at one time.

Moreton, Essex

Moreton is a rural parish in Essex in the Epping Forest with its main economy being agriculture. The village has been here for at least 2000 years and The White Hart here dates back to the Medieval times. The oldest parts of the building have been dated to 1460, but no one is sure who built it or owned it early on. The first recorded landlord was named Henry Pinder. He owned the license in 1649. Another license holder was blacksmith William Pain. In 1914, the license holder was Sidney Skepelhorn and his family held it for most of the 20th century. Like most pubs, this one was open for twenty hours out of every day and was quite dark inside because of frosted windows and dark interior wood with a mustard yellow ceiling. Not a very pretty color, but it made sense as smoke from cigarettes, pipes and the fire would have yellowed the ceiling anyway. The pub was split into sections and there was a well furnished parlor, small private rooms and a public bar. The bar itself had privacy doors, and customers would open a slot on the door to make their order.

In 1991 it was reported that a man saw the silhouette of a young woman wearing a long dress was seen through the window of the kitchen door. He thought this was his wife and so he opened the door and the figure disappeared. The man was startled and he ran up to his room where he found his wife sleeping. This wasn't the only time the female apparition was seen and people believe that she was a woman who died in the building from an accident in the 1920s. That is when the ghost first started to be reported.

Exeter, Devon

Exeter is what we would call in America the county seat of Devon. Devon is full of historic pubs and one of these is the White Hart Hotel. This just happens to be the most haunted pub in Devon. Exeter was once a religious center during the Middle Ages. During the 11th century, the Exeter Cathedral was built. But even before that, this was a Roman town. So this city dates back to 55 AD. The White Hart in Exeter is located at 66 South Street and is part of Marston's Inns. This is close to the city center. Today it offers 55 en-suite rooms for rent and an ale house with selections from Marston's five breweries. The White Hart here dates to the 1400s, but its backstory is murky. Some historians believe this was a resting place for monks that eventually became a coaching inn. It was thought to be the home of William Wynard between 1418 to 1442. He built the Wynard's Hospital and Chapel. The home became the Blue Boar Inn and then the White Hart Inn that had a stable where horses and carriages could be kept. In the 1970s, an extended part of the building was added.

The most well known haunting here is a female spirit that wears a long black cape and wanders the courtyard. The face of a small boy has been seen in the bar. The most bizarre legend is about a basilisk or a Cockatrice, which is described as being half rooster and half lizard that lurks in a well. Stories claim that the creature killed two workmen by breathing on them. And another man was almost killed. This took place in 1649 when a man named Roger Creek owned the inn. The well needed repairs and he hired a man named Paul Penrose to climb down to do the work. The minute Penrose hit the bottom of the well, he died. Another workman named William Johnson was sent down next and he too died when he reached the bottom. It was thought that some kind of uncommon stench had overcome them. Another man went down to help his workmates and he was nearly overcome, but pulled back up before that happened. He was the one who reported the strong smell and that it closed up his lungs. It probably was some kind of marsh gas or was it?

Coggeshall, Essex

The White Hart in Coggeshall in Essex is part of Greene King Inns. Coggeshall comes from an early Saxon settlement and is located along the River Blackwater. Coggeshall Abbey was built in 1140 and eventually became home to the Cistercian monks and they raised sheep whose wool was high-quality and made the town prosperous. This eventually gave way to cloth trade with both silk and lace. In the late 1800s, brewing became a big industry in the village as well. The White Hart was built in the 15th century as a coaching inn. Today, there are 20 rooms and a traditional pub. People who have stayed here claim to hear mysterious tapping on the walls in their rooms, rooms go ice cold and the lights flash and guests feel like they are being watched by something unseen. The spirits of monks have been seen dancing in the fields nearby and the blows of a ghostly axe have been heard. This sound is attributed to a 16th century woodcutter named Robin. Two child spirits wander the halls and it is thought that they died in a fire at the inn. 

The landlord Grant Beechey told Mirror Online, "We have a lady who won't stay in room two. She said she felt someone touch her in the night or felt something happen in the night. She won't stay there now. She still stays with us, she stays every week but she won't stay in room two. There have been quite a few incidents told to us by various residents, about two specific rooms; room two and room 19. These guests come back regularly to stay in those rooms. Whatever it is that is there brings them back time and time again. Room 19, which is the one most people come back to, is in the oldest part of the building. We have people who come and stay in room 19 and the story I've heard from people most often is about a poltergeist, a moving scenario where things appear, don't appear, get moved and that type of thing. I had a report from one of our chefs who was here on a short-term basis that he'd felt he wasn't alone in the kitchen when he was certainly alone. He wasn't disturbed by it but he had that feeling he wasn't alone, and there was something going on. He just said he thought there was someone there with him. Certainly some of the corridors in the older part of the hotel have a look and feel about them."


Lincolnshire is located in the East Midlands and was originally inhabited by a Celtic tribe before the Roman occupation. The Romans called this Lindum Colonia and that is how Lincoln was derived. The birthplace and home of Sir Isaac Newton is here. The White Hart Hotel here is in the center of what was medieval Lincoln and sits between a cathedral and castle. An inn has sat on this site since the 15th century. The oldest part of this hotel dates back to 1710. The Prince of Wales had lunch here in 1925. This White Hart has a variety of en-suite rooms and also has the Antlers Restaurant and the Colonnade Cocktail Lounge and was just refurbished, literally just reopening a couple of weeks ago.

Guests have claimed to hear the sound of people running up and down the corridor when there is no one in the hallway. Disembodied voices sometimes accompany the sound of running. One guest in particular went to the front desk and complained about the sound. He returned to his room and just as he climbed back into bed, the sounds started again. He angrily got out of bed and reached for the doorknob when it suddenly twisted on its own and the door began to rattle violently. The guest flung the door open and ran to the receptionist and reported what happened again, adding that now his door had been affected. This is when the receptionist informed that guest that he was actually the only guest at the inn. On top of that and even more chilling is that the doors don't have handles on the outside, only on the inside. If the knob was turning, it was coming from inside the room. 

There are a couple of possibilities for what haunts the inn. A maid was killed many years ago by a regular patron to the bar. He had taken a liking to her, but she rebuffed him, so he ambushed her one day in the middle of the corridor on the first floor and stabbed her several times in the face and she bled to death. People claim to hear the ghost of the maid screaming and sobbing at night and the crime actually plays out in a residual way sometimes with the maid being seen on her knees and throwing her arms up as if shielding herself from something. Another ghost was also a murder victim, a highwayman that was killed in the stables by a coachman. A restaurant is now located where the stables had been and the highwayman's ghost has been seen flitting through the restaurant covering his face with his cloak. And there is the spirit of an elderly woman who wears a period dress and walks down the corridors of the lower floors and she disappears after being seen. Staff also claim to feel as though something is following them that they can't see.

St. Albans

St. Albans is located in Hertfordshire and was named for the first British saint, Alban. A legend claims that he sheltered a Christian priest who was running for his life. Alban was so impressed by the priest that he converted to Christianity. When the pursuers arrived at Alban's home, he took the priest's cloak and pretended to be him. These men took him away and tortured him trying to get him to renounce his faith and he refused. he was eventually executed and his head is said to have rolled down a hill and where it settled, a well sprang up. The town of St. Albans dates back to the Iron Age. The Romans invaded in 43 AD. Battles from the War of the Roses occurred nearby. St. Albans became a site of Christian pilgrimage, a market town and a first coaching stop on the route to London. This made it a good spot for inns and the White Hart here was built in 1470. Most early visitors were coming to the Abbey, but eventually it became a general coaching inn. Oak paneling was added in the 1600s and remains today. 

St. Albans is said to be a pretty haunted town in general with stories of monks haunting the nearby Abbey and child spirits running through the Market Place. One of the ghost stories connected to the inn dates to 1820. Apparently a woman bought the cheap seats on the top of a coach and somehow broke her neck on the entrance gate. People have seen her spirit in period clothing near the entrance. This story actually inspired Charles Dickens to share it in the Pickwick Papers. The bar is haunted by the spirit of a monk from the Abbey who comes in and pours himself a beer. A 12-year-old girl died in a fire at the inn in 1832 and her spirit hangs out near the back stairs. She even appeared in a local shop and asked about her parents John and Margaret and when the local records were checked, it was discovered that the young daughter of the publicans had died in a fire.

West Bromwich

West Bromwich is a market town in the West Midlands. This town became a center for brick making and coal mining. The White Hart here is no longer open, having been one of more than 50 pubs that have closed down in the town. The pub dates to the 1850s when it was under the license of a man named John Charley. From the 1870s to the early 1880s, the White Hart became the changing room for the new West Bromwich Albion football club. The players would leap over the pub wall to access the pitch. It eventually would be renamed Drunken Duck in 2001 and then closed a few years later. The former pub now runs as a daycare center. People in the building claimed to hear disembodied footsteps and this was connected to the removal of a hand of glory that was discovered in the attic. And what is a hand of glory? It is the dried and pickled hand of a hanged man, usually the offending hand. Superstition attributed power to these items, particularly when used in conjunction with a candle made from the fat of the hanged man's corpse. A hand of glory could unlock any door it came across and it could render people near it motionless. 

Walsall, Staffordshire

Walsall means the "Valley of the Welsh." The town saw real growth during the Industrial Revolution. This was originally a home that was built in the 17th century and then it became the pub, but that shut down in the 1990s and the building was converted into eight flats. A hand of glory comes up in this White Hart too. This is the mummified arm of a child and it too was in the attic. The spirit of the child is said to haunt the inn and it usually indicates its presence with hand prints in the dust. There is also the spirit of a woman seen in Victorian clothing who is thought to have been a maid at the inn who took her own life. 

West Mersea, Essex

West Mersea is in Essex and has several remnants from Roman occupation that still exist from Roman buildings to mosaics to a burial mound just north of the town. The town was founded as far back as 1086 when it is first found in recorded history. The White Hart here is located in the heart of the village and offers six rooms and a pub and has that cool half-timbered look on the outside. There are nearby beaches and boardwalks. The pub dates to the 15th century with a short closure from 2013 to 2022 when it fell into a bit of disrepair. Piers Baker bought the property in 2021 and set about refurbishing it and reopened in 2022. Apparently in the 1880s, the main performer at the pub was a coastguard named Billy the Dancer who would tap dance on a board. The haunting here involves a dog ghost that delivery men claim likes to dart under feet. Workmen at the inn have also claimed that an unseen dog has moved against them when they have worked in the cellar. There must have been sightings too because it is said that this is a Labrador Retriever. A legend tells the story of a woman who fell through the ice while crossing the river and she now walks near the White Hart in ghostly form, perhaps seeking her husband.

Sturminster Newton, Dorset

Sturminster Newton is home to the White Hart Alehouse. This was believed to have been built in 1708. This only runs as a pub now with six real ales and ten craft beers and pub food. People claim that a female spirit haunts the bar area. 

Padstow, Cornwall

Padstow is a fishing port in Cornwall. The White Hart building here dates to the 16th century and was once owned by a woman named Mrs. Binick who advertised the main house as a "very good accustomed Inn with a Large Malt House thereunto adjoining." That Malt House was capable of making 1000 bushels Cornish, which is an old measure from Cornwall that equated around 16 gallons. So that was a lot of liquor! By 1871, it was producing 3000 bushels a season. People did die at the inn. One in 1871 that caused the innkeeper at the time to discontinue letting rooms. And then in 1911, a Bessie Jane Reynolds died at the age of 66 at the inn. In 1995, Patricia Rose Jacoby purchased The White Hart. Previously, she had been a London fashionista who dressed Princess Diana. She was having a drink in the pub and mentioned how much she loved the place and the then owner told her it was for sale. She scooped it right up and began extensive renovations. She then started a Bed and Breakfast business and converted the Malt House to The Garden Room and Apartment. Pat passed away in 2019 and her son inherited the business and continues to run it today under the name "The Malt House." A legend claims that a priest named Wilfred died here and now haunts the place with disembodied footsteps that walk up and down the stairs and a loud rasping sound that comes from one of the rooms.

Manningtree, Essex

Manningtree claims to be the smallest town in England and has a name that probably means "many trees." The wool trade was strong here in the 15th century and the shipping trade became more prominent in the 18th century. But probably what this little town is most known for is being the center of the work of the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. Hopkins claimed that he heard several townswomen talking with each other about meeting the devil. He took his accusations to the authorities in 1644 and those women were executed as witches. That Witchfinder General designation was self-appointed. Parliament never recognized Hopkins as that. Despite not having government backing, Hopkins and his buddy John Stearne sent more people to hang for being witches than any of the other English witch-hunters in the previous 160 years. Somehow this man was described as the "Celebrated Witch-finder" even into the early 1800s. Based on our research, it seems that Hopkins was in this business for the money.

The White Hart Inn in this town has been closed for several years now. The building dates to the 17th century and was a meeting place for Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne and the people from Manningtree who had accusations against their neighbors who they thought were witches. After the accusation was made, it had to be investigated. That's the way it was done from the time that witchcraft was criminalized in England in 1563. Professor of History at the University of Essex, Alison Rowlands, wrote of this, "So what you do, if you want to bring an accusation against somebody, you would go to a Justice of the Peace and bring the charge and they would then start investigating it, and it’s at that point that first of all John Stearne is brought into the procedure, because the local people here, they ask John Stearne, who also lives in Manningtree, to take their complaints to the JPs. And then the JPs ask him to help some of the investigations and then Matthew Hopkins gets involved as well. Now, it’s almost certainly the case that Hopkins and Stearne and the accusers and the JPs met in pubs, because that’s where men of standing got together - in a meeting room in an inn. So I think any kind of local-ish pub that would have been around in the 17th century, you could probably make that case for." This place must have made an impression on Hopkins because people claim that his spirit is here. He can be heard walking and talking in the building and has been seen as well. Hopkins died very young, at the age of 28 in 1647.

Edinburgh, Lothian

The White Hart Inn in Edinburgh is said to be the city's most haunted pub. This one was built in 1740 and has held a continuous license for over 500 years. The cellar dates to 1516. The White Hart was built in the Grassmarket that stands in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. This is where livestock was bought and sold and executions were conducted. People would rent out the top floor for the best view. Some executions included Maggie Dickson or "Half Hangit Maggie" in 1724, over 100 Covenanters between 1661 and 1668 at a time called "The Killing Times," and the last person hanged was James Andrew in 1784. In 1916, the inn was almost destroyed when the Germans dropped 23 bombs on the city with one dropping just outside the inn. Sightings of detached legs and dark ghostly figures have been reported in the cellar area. Barrels down there get moved around. An unseen hand likes to turn off the beer pumps. And a shadowy figure appears by the door behind the bar. People claim that their hair gets pulled too. There are a couple of resident ghosts here. One is named Sally Beggs and she was apparently found dead in the street outside the inn. She haunts the main bar area. The other is thought to be named Jack and appears to be disfigured and wears a cloak over his shoulders. He tends to haunt the Keg Room.

Cross, Somerset

Cross is a small village located in Compton Bishop, England. British comedian Frankie Howerd had lived here in Wavering Down, which is now a museum and tourist attraction. The White Hart in Cross is on Old Coach Road. This inn dates back to the 17th century. Mike and Gina bought the pub in 2019 and refurbished it. They made the Good Beer Guide in 2021 and 2022. Judge George Jeffreys was known as The Hanging Judge and he was severe and biased. During the Bloody Assizes, which were a series of trials that took place after the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685, Judge Jeffreys held some trials at this White Hart and several local men were condemned to hang. The Judge would continue to go onto greater things until he finally was imprisoned at the Tower of London where he died in 1689. Interestingly, Jeffreys was terrified of what the public would do to him so the Tower of London became a sanctuary for him because it was said that the mobs outside intended "to show him that same mercy he had ever shown to others." A plaque outside of the inn claims that it is haunted by one of the judges "victims." People claim to hear disembodied footsteps that are very loud and small items move on their own.  


Bristol was a starting place for many voyages to the New World from Britain because it was a major port. It was founded around 1000 AD. The White Hart outside of Bristol is a beautiful country pub with parts that date back to the 12th century. This had been part of St. James Priory. Two brothers bought the building in the 1600s and converted it into an inn. The brothers eventually fought with each other over land and one killed the other, brutally murdering him and hiding his body in the cellar. The dead brother was thought to be named George and he haunts the place now. Landlords leave a vase of flowers on the bar to appease him. One of the landlords said, "We’ve witnessed quite a few spooky incidents since taking over the pub five years ago and we’ve heard tales from the past involving George too. On several occasions bottles of alcohol that were firmly in place on the shelf behind us have fallen off for no reason whatsoever, which always gives us quite a fright. And an old landlord once came in and told me how a barrel of Fosters kept disconnecting itself in the cellar despite the fact he was making it tighter and tighter each time, and there was nobody down there. I’ve also seen the figure of an old man wearing a tweed suit and red V-neck jumper sitting by the women’s toilets in my peripheral vision, but there was nobody there. And no, I hadn't been drinking." 

Menheniot, Cornwall

Menheniot is a village located in Cornwall and was a former mining area. The White Hart Inn here was a 17th century coaching inn. Today it offers 9 rooms and a full cooked breakfast every morning and there is real ale in the lounge and public bar areas. The inn has traditional slate floors and beamed ceilings. A beer garden is also available. Ali had worked here when she emailed us in 2016 and she shared, "The scent of a woman's perfume has been smelt in various places when there is no one in the hotel (notably in the kitchen & going up the staircase) there are shadows seen going across the bar and restaurant, the bedrooms all have separate bathrooms and bedrooms (like self contained apartments) and every member of staff has had experience of leaving a room/walking into a room and the TV just switches on. I have had a heavy sigh in my ear with no one around me (after closing time no drinkers no guests no other staff) several of us have swapped stories about something that concerns us (its like a dream during the day kind of like a vision of an old lady just screaming in our faces) there are 3 of us that i know have had these and its re occurring. There's a more worrying darker than dark shadow at the top of the stairs when you turn the lights off and do a walk around to lock up there's like a black mist that's darker than the dark because you can see it....even the owners have had experiences but this isn't something we talk about often, its very much a culture of we all see and hear and smell things.....but we don't talk to each other about it, but just know that we aren't the only ones to experience it. The hotel allows dogs but no one with a dog has ever stayed in room 2. The dogs go bezerk i mean full on crazy barking, growling, so the owners take them out the building and they have to go in other rooms."

Clearly, these White Hart Inns are located in some beautiful and interesting towns. Nearly all sound like great places to get a brew and some pub food. And possibly experience some unexplained activity. Are these White Hart Hotels haunted? That is for you to decide!

No comments:

Post a Comment