The White Hart at Chipstead was built in 1731, during the reign of George II.
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 ).
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
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.
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.
The pretty village of Chipstead sits on high ground on the North Downs surrounded by woods. The name 'Chipstead' has been subject to various spellings throughout history with Tepestede, Chepestede, and Schipsted all shown in historical records. The name is likely to have been derived from the old English word ceapstede, meaning the 'market place'.
From the earliest times, Chipstead was blessed with a number of substantial ponds, which would have made it an attractive stopping off point for herdsman taking their livestock to London. These were first noted in the 7th and 8th centuries.
The Domesday survey of 1086 tells us that the principal manor of Chipstead was held by Richard of Tonbridge, whose descendants became Earls of Gloucester. There seems never to have been a resident Lord of the Manor until the 17th and 18th centuries when the manor was held by the Lords of Upper Gatton and subsequently by the Lords of Merstham.
The Village Fair
Chipstead has an annual Village Fair, first recorded in Edward VI's reign in 1549 and held on St.Margaret's day. It may originally have been a large cattle fair held on Church Green, and was subsequently moved to Fair Green near Shabden as a sheep fair.
In the early centuries annual village fairs were of considerable importance and attracted large numbers of people. Cattle and sheep farmers would travel long distances in search of suitable livestock and the ordinary people would find goods and services unavailable elsewhere.
To Flourishing Times
The village remained an isolated rural parish until the late nineteenth century. There was a small amount of industry in the parish: indeed, at one time there were two water mills that were used to grind tobacco into snuff, but it was the opening of Tattenham Corner railway station that led to a prolonged period of development. The rise of the railway led to the construction of a number of mansions built for successful City businessmen, so planting the seeds for the Chipstead which exists today.
Second World War
Due to its proximity to London, Chipstead suffered consiserable bomb damage during the second world war. Altogether, as recorded on a stone on Church Green, there fell upon Chipstead in World War II two parachute mines, some 450 high explosive bombs, 12 V1 flying bombs and one V2 rocket, besides innumerable incendiaries.
Perhaps the most spectacular achievement of the Chipstead community in World War II was the factory organized in the Peter Aubertin Hall. On the 19th June 1940 Mrs Neame of Sopers Cottage and Mrs Brooks of Merstham (a member of staff at the Royal School of Needlework) began training Chipstead women in the art of covering aircraft wings, ailerons and rudders with fabric, and in the production of lifejackets. To the end of 1944, the Chipstead Aero Supply Co had completed over 100 airframe unit components and 12,449 lifejackets.
(With thanks to the Chipstead Village Society)