Nostalgia: The history behind the White Hart Inn in Bromley
PUBLISHED: 06:05 29 August 2013
The earliest mention of the White Hart Inn comes from a 1509 will of William Beckyngham of Guildford, who was a citizen and grocer of St Olaves, in Southwark.
However there has been much speculation that the pub actually dates back to the reign of Richard II (1377-99) because of the name and inn sign of the White Hart with a crown, which was his royal emblem.
In the 17th Century, Michael Lee obtained a 21-year lease for the inn but due to debts of £500 owed to a Cornelius Cage, Vintner of London, he was sent to the Fleet Prison.
Cornelius Cage seized the opportunity and acquired the lease and it was to the White Hart that he sent his family and servants when plague hit London.
In the 1830s the landlord William Pawley enlarged the White Hart making it a large coaching inn and adding an airy assembly room.
Throughout the 19th Century the White Hart was the focus for many of Bromley’s events.
These included meetings of Magistrates Petty Sessions and County Court, as well as parochial and political meetings, town balls and other gatherings which led to the setting up of such things as the Association for the Defence of the Realm in 1792, and the 18th Kent Rifle Volunteers.
It was also the headquarters of the Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Many sporting events took place there, too. These included cricket matches played on the White Hart field behind the inn and the local football club practice in the winter.
When the White Hart Inn was pulled down in the 1960s Bromley lost one of its most historic buildings.
It had stood just south of the Market Square for at least 500 years and had been one of the most important centres of town life in Bromley.