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Former Old White Hart Hotel, Henley-on-Thames

Description: Former Old White Hart Hotel

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 25 January 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 246186

OS Grid Reference: SU7614482682
OS Grid Coordinates: 476144, 182682
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5379, -0.9035

Location: A4130, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 2AR

Locality: Henley-on-Thames
Local Authority: South Oxfordshire District Council
County: Oxfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: RG9 2AR

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Listing Text


696/1/47 (North side)
25-JAN-51 19B, 21 AND 23

(Formerly listed as:
21 AND 23
(Formerly listed as:
21 AND 23)
(Formerly listed as:
19B, 21 AND 23)
(Formerly listed as:

Courtyard inn, now restaurant and offices; C14-C16 with later alterations, refronted 1930s.

MATERIALS: South range is timber-framed with 1930s brick front, roughcast above ground-floor level with applied framing to gables. Courtyard ranges are timber-framed with end, rear and ground-floor courtyard walls mainly of thin red-brown bricks laid in English bond with diaper patterns in vitrified headers. Jettied gallery structure to courtyard is timber-framed with plaster infill or weatherboarding. All buildings have pitched roofs of plain clay tile.

PLAN: South range originally an open hall with cellar below, later ceiled over to create first-floor accommodation and access to courtyard behind. Courtyard ranges originally had stabling to ground floor with continuous gallery above giving access to around 20 guest chambers; west range included a second open hall (no. 19b). All buildings altered internally, and much of west range rebuilt.

EXTERIOR: South range is a two-storey, two-bay building with a 1930s 'Tudorbethan' fa├žade comprising a bow-windowed brick lower storey and a roughcast first floor with four bracketed cross-casement windows and two projecting half-timbered gables above. Square carriage entrance to left, with timber-framed brick walls and a ceiling of heavy chamfered beams and plain joists.

East courtyard range has continuous jettied gallery 1m deep, supported on exposed joists and beams with reinforcing posts towards the north end. Projecting middle bay said to have been a garderobe, or possibly a former stair landing. First floor is rendered and has five horizontally-sliding sash windows; ground-floor windows mainly early-C20 leaded casements. Three ridge stacks to roof. Rear (east) wall partly timber-framed. North range and short return section of west range have a shallower jetty, with mortises indicating former jetty brackets. Weather-boarded first floor to courtyard with small casement windows. Central carriageway leading to former rear yard, with large-scantling chamfered spine beam supporting plain joists. To right, C16 Tudor-arched doorway with moulded jambs, sunken spandrels and C20 board door; adjoining steps lead down to cellar. Rear (north) elevation has two rebuilt projecting stacks and a section of exposed timber framing on first floor.

Middle part of west range replaced with a single-storey former stable building of painted brick, now with a dormer and small bay window to courtyard. South of this is the later hall building (no. 19b), of two bays, with C19 multi-pane sash windows flanking central doorway to ground floor. Jettied first floor has square framing with curved braces, plaster infill panels and early-C20 small-paned casements. Exposed roof truss in north gable. Blocked window openings in rear wall. Southern end of west range now demolished, though part of original rear wall survives.

INTERIORS: Cellar below south range is constructed of chalk blocks with two chamfered chalk ribs to barrel vault. On ground and first floors some exposed timber-framing, spine-beams and rafters. At junction with rear (east) wing on first floor a large-scantling wall-plate with mortises from former brace. Dog-leg late-C18/early-C19 stair with stick balusters, moulded columnar newel and moulded handrail. Parts of original double crown-post roof survive in attic, including paired rafters, collars, collar purlin and a single crown post and plate, all smoke-blackened with traces of ochre paint.

East range has some remaining timber framing including large-scantling beams, some chamfered, and joists; internally these are heavily corroded, indicating former use of ground floor as stables. Of particular interest is the square-framed former inner wall to the first-floor gallery, which has doorways to chambers and some remaining wattle and daub infill panels. Roof has clasped purlins, arched wind braces, queen-post trusses and old rafters, with later ridge-piece supported by posts set on collars. Cellar under north range is flint-walled with some chalk blocks and brick. Roof over north range largely under-boarded, but at east end original roof construction is visible, similar to that over east range but of better quality.

In west range, former open hall retains much timber framing including close studding to first-floor gallery wall (infill removed) and good-quality queen-post central roof truss; the latter has clasped purlins, arched wind braces, coupled rafters and slightly cambered tie-beams with hollow chamfer mouldings supported on long arch braces and wall posts with similar mouldings, the latter terminating in pendants carved with three balls. On ground floor, brick Tudor arch and relieving arch to former fireplace.

HISTORY: The earliest part of the present buildings is the cellar under the south range, which dates from around 1300; the building above, originally an open-hall structure occupying a burgage plot facing the town's high street, dates from the same period or slightly later, and is probably the inn or tenement known as 'le Harte' referred to in a Court Roll of 1428-9. The inn was extended to the rear after 1531 (a date established by dendrochronology), with three ranges of buildings surrounding a courtyard and occupying the back-lands of the two burgage plots immediately to the west. These buildings contained around 20 guest chambers accessed from a jettied gallery with stabling below and a second open hall in the western range, the latter perhaps replacing the original hall which was floored over to create upper-level accommodation and a carriage entrance. More buildings, now demolished, once enclosed a second courtyard to the rear. In the C18 and early C19 the White Hart was Henley's principal coaching inn; part of the west range was demolished and rebuilt as stabling during this period. The Old White Hart, as it became known, remained in use as a public house into the C20 - the street front was remodelled by the Henley architect A E Hobbs for Brakspear's brewery in the 1930s - before eventually closing in 2008.

SOURCES: Ruth Gibson, report for the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group (2008).
Ann Cottingham, The Hostelries of Henley (2000), 244.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The former Old White Hart Hotel is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Early fabric: extensive survival of medieval construction including cellar and roof structure to south range; C16 courtyard ranges also survive substantially intact;
* Planning interest: well-preserved late-medieval inn showing evolution from open-hall building on street front to full courtyard plan with continuous jettied gallery and later hall;
* Historic interest: one of Henley's principal inns, illustrating the town's importance as a staging post;
* Group value: with other listed buildings on Hart Street, and especially with other former inns such as the adjacent Catherine Wheel (q.v.).

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.