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Remains of Roman Villas have been found near Somerton in Pitney and Low Ham that date back to A.D. 28. When the Roman empire collapsed the Saxons moved in and the sparsely populated area is thought to have evolved from an 8th century royal estate to become the capital of Wessex by the 11th century. The present plan of the Market Square, St Michael & All Angels’ church and Market Cross was largely complete by the 13th century and look much now as they did then.

It’s often said that there was a castle in Somerton close to The White Hart but this is not correct. However, there are some unexplained thick walls between The White Hart and The Globe next door which suggest that was a large and important building on the site, possibly a gaol.

The White Hart

The current structure has been added to many times. As you go in through the front door the oldest section is on the left-hand side and dates from the 15th century. On the right-hand side there is a 17th century section and then as you go back through the building it is mainly `19th century. The façade was also added sometime in the 18th century, moving the front of the building forward of The Globe and further into the square.

The White Hart used to be called The Bear, or Black Bear until the mid-1800s. It was owned by Lord Ilchester but run by the Brown family for much of the 1800s until they bought the property around the turn of the century.

The wooden White Hart (which is still above the front door) was carved and erected just over 100 years ago. This wooden landmark survived until 2005 when he lost his head and was removed. Luckily, we found him languishing in a shed (headless) and after a little rejuvenation, he was put back where he belonged – albeit he now faces left to right (rather than towards the church) as someone had shortened the porch and he wouldn’t fit!

In the 1960s The White Hart hosted a successful world record attempt for non-stop skittling, a staggering 48 hours!

That skittle alley is now the restaurant and kitchen downstairs and a second skittle alley on the first floor now accommodates rooms 6, 7 & 8.

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