Ride (to) a White Horse.

With the ability to acquire new shots of bygone boozers severely curtailed at the moment, and not wanting to rely solely on images obtained by Mr. Google, I've been digging through some pics that I took when this interest (obsession?) was limited to hunting them down and snapping them.


Back in the summer of 2018 I rode to visit a friend in Melbourne. I'd identified a few bygone boozers and pedalled around the South Derbyshire village hunting them down and taking the odd snap of some of them. The former King's Head featured in the 'Christmas Special' back in December and the Roebuck was one of Pat's Pair but this one of the White Horse has sat unused. Until now, that is.

The former White Horse in Melbourne. July 2018.

The image of a white horse features a lot in folklore, mythology and religion. From Rhiannon in the Mabinogion who rode a pale-white horse (Pale-white? I thought that white was white and anything else was a shade of grey, fifty or however many shades you want, but perhaps that's just me giving hints as to my precise location on the autistic spectrum); to the bow-bearing Pestilence who, along with his three mates, will be taken on by Christ, also on a white horse, at the head of the armies of heaven.


Back to childhood and my earliest encounter with a white horse was probably the one which bore the ring and bell-wearing fine lady at Banbury Cross. That would have been closely followed by the White Horse pub which stood at the roundabout a couple of hundred yards from my birthplace. (That too is no more and will no doubt feature in these pages at some point.) Of course, there was also that wonderful BBC TV programme, The White Horses, cobbled together by some Yugoslavs and Germans, poorly dubbed into English and forced upon the children of the 1960s. We were at least given some warning of its arrival by the strains of its awful themesong performed by Jacky (Jackie Lee). It's sad to think that it made it to number 10 in the charts, only prevented from rising higher by offerings from the likes of the 1910 Fruitgum Company. In case you've forgotten just how bad it was (Follyfoot was much better,or was that just down to a pubescent pechant for a weekly dose of Gillian Blake?), or for the fortunate amongst you that have never experienced it, here is a sample.




White horses and pubs began to be linked in the eighteenth century when many inns started to take on the name. The House of Hanover took over the throne with the ascent of George the First in 1714. He brought with him his heraldry which included the 'Sachsenross', a white horse on a red background, which was just the thing to hang outside your inn to show your loyalty to the new dynasty.


Returning to the White Horse in Melbourne. It was run by the Tivey dynasty for a while in the nineteenth century. The earliest reference to it by name that I've come across is in the National Probate Calendar of 1882 where Sarah Tivey is granted administration of her late husband Sidney's estate. The White Horse stood at the end of Blanch Croft and Sidney had been shown as a beer retailer or beerhouse keeper in Melbourne, sometimes specifically in Blanch Croft, since the 1842 edition of Pigot's Directory. The previous year's census has him in Blanch Croft but solely as a silk lace maker.


Sarah herself died in 1890 and the place moved into the possession of a different dynasty - the Sherwins. Kelly's Directory published that year tells us that Jonathan Sherwin is now in charge of tapping the barrels. He wasn't at it long for he was put into Melbourne's churchyard in November 1892 leaving his wife, Mary, the reins of the White Horse which she held until she was laid next to her late husband in the autumn of 1902.


Mary's death saw the next generation of Sherwins take charge. According to the 1911 census son Percy is a publican in the White Horse living with Frances and Emily, his spinster sisters. It's probably not just taps in barrels that concern him either. He's likely to have been dealing with other taps too as he's also recorded as being a plumber.


The White Horse in the 1920s when Percy Sherwin was landlord.

Percy is continually listed as being at the White Horse until at least 1941 when that year's edition of Kelly shows him still to be in residence. Quite when he relinquished hold on the pub I don't know, but I assume he did at some stage for in the 1950s he and Emily were living not a million miles away in Penn Lane.


The pub finally shut its doors around 1975. It was included in the 1974 phone directory (Melbourne 2064) but is absent from the following edition published less than two years later. A clue to its sometime past role does remain though.


A little clue. It lives on in name.

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