About Us

Here is just a little info to let you get to know us better...

History

Here is a little potted history of our pub and the local area... if you have a spare minute or two and maybe a cup of tea (or is that a G&T), we think it's well worth a read.

The White Hart on Tonbridge Road in Sevenoaks was built high on the Greensand Ridge in the late 16th / early 17th century near to the site of an ancient inn called The Cock.

The legend

A 'hart' is a male deer or stag, but the white hart took on a mythical quality through its association with Herne the Hunter (pronounced 'Ern the 'unter ).

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Herne worked for Richard II in Windsor forest, but was fatally injured while defending the king against a cornered white stag. A local wizard restored him to health but, in return, Herne was forced to give up his hunting skills and eventually through frustration and disappointment hanged himself from an oak tree near the castle. Richard II subsequently adopted the White Hart as his crest. Here is a detail from a portrait of Richard 11 painted around 1306, The Wilton Diptych, showing him wearing a brooch with a white hart emblem.

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King Richard's White Hart had golden antlers and a golden crown around its neck with a gold chain hanging from the crown. Heraldically, the Hart symbolises peace and harmony, the White denoting purity.

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In 1389 Richard passed an Act making it compulsory for pubs and inns to have a sign outside in order to identify them to the official Ale Taster, "otherwise he shall forfeit his ale." Consequently, a great many pubs were named "The White Hart", after Richard II's own heraldic emblem.

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Toll Charges

The first turnpike road in Kent from Sevenoaks to Woodsgate (1709) ran past the White Hart. Passing coaches were required to pay a toll to the turnpike trustees. This included those in charge of the four-horse stage coach, which called at the White Hart three times a week on its long journey from the Nag's Head in Southwark to Rye in Sussex.

Knole Park

In 1456 the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Bourchier, purchased the 100 acre estate of Knole and built the great house which lies to the eastern side of the town. This was later appropriated by Henry VII and then passed on to Queen Elizabeth I who gave it to her cousin Thomas Sackville.

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The Origins of Sevenoaks

The name "Sevenoaks" originated from the Saxon word 'Seouenaca', a name given in about 800 A.D. to a small chapel near seven oaks in Knole Park. Sevenoaks was historically part of the Great Manor of Otford. In 1200, a market was started in the town and due to its economic success, it made Sevenoaks a manor it its own right.

The town's motto is "Floreant Septum Quercus" - " May the Seven Oaks Flourish "

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In 1728, seven oak trees were planted on land next to the White Hart, close to the turnpike road, as part of a tradition to perpetuate the name of the town. The trees grew tall and strong but, sadly, were felled in 1955 as they were considered a danger to passing traffic. The novelist Vita Sackville-West and the chairman of Sevenoaks Urban Council, Mrs Eliane Viner jointly planted seven oak saplings in their place, which stand today.

The Great Storm

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There is another group of seven oak trees, to the northern side of the Vine Cricket Ground (so named as the land was once used as the vineyard for the Archbishops of Canterbury). The average life of an oak tree is approximately 250 years and so the oaks have been replaced several times. The seven oaks were planted on The Vine in 1902 to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII, but during the hurricane of 1987 six of these were blown down and Sevenoaks became "Oneoaks".

Surprisingly, seven new oaks were subsequently planted, which means there are now eight oaks.

Famous Visitors

In 1840, Samuel Palmer, one of England's greatest 19th century landscape artists, stayed at the White Hart Hotel which, he said, cost him 26 shillings a week. Dinner was two shillings per head and breakfast, with eggs or meat, was 1/6d. Whilst there is no evidence of Charles Dickens staying at the White Hart he did make several trips to the area and once rented an apartment in the town of Sevenoaks. It is possible he stood at the bar and enjoyed an ale or two, as his daughter Kate and her husband did whilst staying at The White Hart after Charles' death in 1870.

Whilst on the subject of artists, Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted this wonderful picture in 1850, and used the countryside around Sevenoaks as the background.

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Sevenoaks, while being a prosperous and peaceful community, has not been without its share of tragedy. In 1927, a passenger train ran out of control down the bank from the north, and 13 people were killed. Here is a photograph of an earlier train accident which occurred in 1884:

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In 1967, The Beatles filmed parts of The Magical Mystery Tour in Sevenoaks, at Knowle Park. Scenes included The Beatles walking down a giant staircase in one of the hangers with 160 dancers at the bottom of it, a tug of war involving 12 children and a number of blindfolded vicars and the famous 'I am The Walrus' scene.

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The White Hart In Print

The White Hart features in several publications, including Sevenoaks Essays by Dr Gordon Ward, The Pleasant Town of Sevenoaks by Sir John Dunlop and The Broad Highway, a regency classic written by Jeffrey Farnol. By several accounts, they are not what you might call pot-boilers.

If you'd like to put a name to a face, allow us to introduce you to the crew...


Front of house

Tom Dennis

Manager

Tom took over as Landlord in October 2018 and hasn't looked back since. Having enjoyed many a year running pubs in central London, Sevenoaks now suits him well. Food is a big part of Tom's life (both cooking and eating), a love for beer and good wine also high on the list! When not overseeing the goings on at The White Hart you can find Tom 'outdoors'. A keen climber and now teaching his son Louis to be the next Bear Grylls!

Arran Harvey

Deputy Manager

Arran has been with the White hart for 3 years now, after a background of working in restaurants - the White Hart has been a interesting change of pace! When he's not running around the pub at work, he's supporting other local pubs and restaurants (Gathering intel, he says!) and spending time with his wife Ines and cat Mayo.

Beccie Richardson

Assistant Manager

She's back! After having left us for a small sabbatical of 2 years, Beccie is back. Knowing the pub like the back of her hand, the resonating sound of her bossy voice can be heard from the other end of Sevenoaks. Her experience and knowledge of the White Hart is welcomed back. Naturally taking the mother role of the team.

Inesz Molnar

Assistant Manager

Newly promoted Assistant Manager, Inesz joined the pub in September 2019 and has gone from strength to strength. One to watch! She'll be running the place before long (if she has any say!).

Tamas Kosa

Assistant Manager

Tamas has worked in the industry for over a decade and his passion for good food and beer has made him an asset to the White Hart team. Tamas is a keen sportsman, and loves running. So if he is not running around motivating staff with his one liners you will find him running a marathon in Tunbridge Wells. Boom Boom!

Andrew Dorrall

Bar/Waiting Staff

Andrew is another long-standing member of the white hart team. Andrew is always dressed to impress with his waistcoats filled with goodies, a man always ready with a pen, lighter or bottle opener. But don't be surprised if you recognise Andrew not just from the pub but from his budding movie career as an extra. Andrew is always keen to talk football as well, certainly if it's to do with Tottenham and Plymouth Argyle.

Lisa-Jane Whiffen

Bar/Waiting Staff

Lisa has been with the team for nearly 10 years. Bringing glamour to the pub, you will always see her either behind the bar or hosting. We our very proud of Lisa as she has managed to use an iPad as she can be a bit of a technophobe. But make sure she has her glasses near to hand otherwise she won't be able to read or see you.

Edward Torry

Bar/Waiting Staff

Newly promoted to Cellar Supervisor, Ed has been at the White Hart for four years now. Following in his sister's footstep. A keen artist and photographer you will often see Ed taking photos for the website or Instagram page. He is also a dab hand for doing the artwork on the blackboards. If Ed is not behind the bar chatting to regulars, you may see him in the gym or playing with his drone!

Bronte Swift

Bar/Waiting Staff

If you have visited the White Hart you may have been greeted by a bubbly girl from down under. Having worked in the industry for years Bronte can pour a pint, plan a party, and puts a smile on anyone's face. If you bring a cute puppy or dog you will surely put a smile on her face! Bronte has made Sevenoaks her home away from home. You can always find her on the other side of the bar with a pint of IPA and a brownie!

Arlene Bowern

Bar/Waiting Staff

Our fiery little lady loves to sing! Only having joined the team last year Arlene has cemented her place within the white hart family. Arlene is always there with a big smile. What she lacks in height she makes up with a bubbly personality. She loves to chat to our customers and makes them feel at home, but don't worry if you have never met her as you will be able to hear her voice as soon as you walk in!


Kitchen

Guy Varney-Burch

Head Chef

Guy has worked in pubs and hotels since he was 16 years old. He joined Brunning and Price in 2010 and has been smashing it ever since. He took a small sabbatical of 3 years travelling all around Southeast Asia. Getting involved with Thai cooking schools, scuba diving and scrambling bikes in the middle of the jungle. Having come back in one piece he joined the White Hart team as head chef in 2019. Not satisfied with running a busy kitchen, Guy has also just got married and decided to embark on fatherhood by bringing into the world a baby boy called Austin.

Paul Macey

Sous Chef

Paul, also known as "Chuckles", is a very happy chappy with a 'can do', positive, 'glass-half-full' attitude and an infectious laugh. He fits in very well with the all too happy and relaxed chefs at the White Hart - no stressed out Ramsay expletives or Pierre White tantrums here. Paul actually started front of house earlier in his career, but after showing a natural talent for cooking he found himself starting to dress all in white. Paul, much like Eddie, has a second love for two wheeled freedom and owns Chris's dream bike.

Istvan Nagy

Sous Chef

Istvan is our newest recruit! Having previously worked at the Haycutter as a Chef de Partie. Istvan has worked hard to establish his reputation and cooking skills within Brunning and Price team and at the White Hart. Istvan originally from Hungary moved to England 5 years ago working in many different places and proving that working hard really pays off. When Istvan has some time off which is rare he likes a beer and to watch football, joining ranks with our head chef Guy and Tom with the love of Arsenal!

Kai

Commis Chef

Kai, another new recruit to the White Hart is originally from Thailand and is a mother of three. Cooking up a storm on desserts, Kai has an infectious laugh that can be heard at the other end of the pub. She'll often be found feeding the crew with her delicious homemade curries and blowing our heads off with the heat! Watch this space, they may be coming to a menu near you!

Mel Osborne

Kitchen Porter

Mel has been part of the White Hart family for 3 years now. Working hard in the kitchen and helping make the pub look beautifully clean. Mel is a mum of 2 boys so when she isn't working has her hands full. You may see Mel on the other side of the bar with a glass of rosé. Always keeping things ship shape. Mel is also finally joining the front of house team. A triple threat!


Maintenance

Mark Skinner

Gardener/Maintenance Person

Mark up until recently was in charge of all the lovely parks and public grounds in Tunbridge Wells. We managed to coax him out of semi retirement to look after the White Hart, where he harbours great plans for a herb garden and even a vegetable patch. As is appropriate for a man of his calling, he is greener than green, and prefers pedal power to horse power.