Most people walk past the houses that comprise 142-144 High Street, near Twerton Chippy, without noticing the faint words on the walls which indicate that these buildings were once a pub called the White Hart, and then a Temperance Institute and Restaurant.
The history of the White Hart is interesting and bizarre, and is detailed in Swift and Elliot’s recently published book, Lost Pubs of Bath. Bits of their summary of the White Hart at Twerton are reproduced below.
Excerpts from Swift and Elliot, Lost Pubs of Bath, pp.131-32
At 142-144 High Street, was the White Hart, which opened some time before 1767. In January 1798, when factory workers from Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Frome and Beckington marched on Twerton intending to demolish the works of “Bamford and Co and Collicott and Co”, the White Hart was the headquarters of the local militia and those charged with “suppression of this violent outrage”. Appropriately, Twerton’s stocks stood across the road from the inn.
The former White Hart Pub at Twerton High Street
Around 1818, the White Hart was taken over by William Wiltshire. His tenure came to an abrupt and tragic end 14 years later, as reported in the Bath Chronicle:
On Monday evening, December 10th, about four o’clock, as Mr Wiltshire, of the White Hart, was returning from a friend’s house beyond the Bear at Holloway, and crossing the fields leading to Twerton Road, he was attacked by two ruffians, who with the most dreadful threats upon his life, fell upon him and beat him so cruelly as to leave him without the power of speech, and, in fact, with little signs of life. His clothes were torn from his body in tatters, and his pockets were rifled of 100 sovereigns, which he had that day drawn from the bank.
William Wiltshire’s injuries were such that, although he survived, he had to retire. A few months later a notice appeared in the Bath Chronicle, advertising a sale of beer, casks, furniture, brewing utensils, a screw cider press etc “by Mr Wiltshire, who is quitting the Inn”. It was taken over by James Collins.
When an inventory was carried out later in the century, the White Hart had a bar, a bar parlour (with a barometer, china ornaments, eight Windsor arm chairs, a Broadwood square piano and a glass showcase), a tap room, a sitting room (with a bagetelle table), a club room and a brewery.
Faint lettering still advertises the White Hart Brewery
In 1899, the Bath Brewery closed the White Hart and transferred its licence to the newly built Victoria Hotel in Oldfield Park. The inn was bought for £355 by the Twerton Lodge of Good Templars and turned into a Temperance Institute and Restaurant. At the opening ceremony on 16 May 1899, the Templars burst the old vats and broke “other things connected with alcohol”.
Although the Templars have gone, the words WHITE HART TEMPLAR INSTITUTE AND RESTARAUNT … TWERTON LODGE can still be faintly made out above the door, with the words they covered up – WINES & SPIRITS – coming through underneath.
The words WHITE HART at 144 High Street were painted on in 1899