Public Houses - White Heart

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The Make-over
This hostelry near Penistone Bridge (over the River Don) has been a public house under the name of the White Hart for over 400 years from 1377, so it will be no surprise that it is supposed to have a ghost. Its location by the bridge would have made it a popular place right into antiquity. The White Hart was the emblem King Richard II (r. 1377-1399) and there are many public houses adorned with this name and emblem throughout England.

In 2005 it changed hands from Sam Thacker (see below) and an extensive refurbishment transformed it with a 'wow factor' to anyone who knew it before. It's name also changed at this time to the White Heart.

First impressions were: spacious, light, modern, tidy, warm, clean, friendly and inviting. Nothing negative but the real ale didn't arrive for a couple of years. Now you can enjoy a pint of Black Sheep or Theakstons, so that box too has also been ticked. An ambience of gentle background music does not overpower the general murmur of conversation.

With the addition of the 'Talbot Suite' building in 2009 they were able to host functions, wedding parties and such as 'Wedding Fayres'. They also introduced various entertainment nights. 'Friday Night is Music Night' is when the DJ plays 'A Blast From The Past'. Mostly 60's, 70's & 80's music. From time to time they have live bands and themed food events. Thurlstone Brass Band comes along each summer for an open-air concert afternoon.

The pub has chunky wooden tables, plasma tvs, leather settees (I'm not posh enough to call them sofas) and comfy chairs, with a ceramic tiled floor by the bar with tiny blue lights. The quality of fixtures and fittings is very good and even the fireplaces are illuminated. The arched window, mezzanine and stairs (with an attractive spiral of little lights) are features new to the building. The stairs lead up to a dining area with another dining area underneath. The menu includes vegetarian, although the pricing policy for some meals is a bit quirky by charging for component parts of the meal. There is a high-class dining menu and a light-bite menu.

A general theme of blue lights pops up here and there and, from the outside, the place looks glorious at night with its pool of pale lighting. There is wide CCTV coverage outside and inside, including the Gent's toilet - with a wide-angle lens. Why not?

Upstairs dining areaupstairsbelow stairs below stairs dining area
bar areabar areaside of bar areamain area

The top row of pictures starts upstairs, with the mezzanine floor, then down into the lower dining room (where a pool table used to be). First of the bottom row pictures looks through the main bar area into the lower dining room, then we have the bar and a side area. The bottom-right picture looks from the dining room into the main bar area. These pictures were taken just days after opening, with the permission of all concerned.

The staff are friendly and efficient, always with a ready smile. Apart from light snacks, I have never had a full meal there. The menu was always a bit exotic for me but there has always been a variety of vegetarian options and light bites to choose from.

The large car park is accessed through a rising barrier and it has CCTV cameras. There is a walled off area at the bottom of the car park as a beer garden (and sun-trap). On the other side of the pub, a small garden centre is accessed through a large gate. A pleasant lass from High Green helps you select from a range of potted plants and garden stuff at affordable prices.

Website: (photo gallery pictures are large downloads). Telephone: 01226 762843

The old White Hart
Model of White Hart - not clickableA previous landlord named it 'The New Tavern' for a short time. Some people were so annoyed by the new name and its break with four hundred years of tradition that they refused to drink there. It did not last long. In 1996, Frank 'Sam' Thacker moved in and put things right. The first thing he did was to change the name back to the White Hart. Someone had made a very good model of the pub and it was given pride of place above the great fireplace.

Sam was a landlord of great character and humour, unafraid of controversy and always with some good stories to tell. He had a sharp tongue but was good-hearted. He lived above the business on the first floor. He put a great deal of work and muscle into renovating the pub and built the business up to make it a very popular place. Sam's health was a problem and for a while he brought in a couple from Geordieland to manage it.

This was a warm and comfortable pub with a ready welcome for visitors. Various activities occurred here; pool games, karaoke, darts, quiz nights and occasional live entertainments. A bit like 'Phoenix Nights' on TV. The pub had a good range of drinks and always a lively clientele. In cold weather a roaring fire would greet the visitor but that visitor might also have to fill the coke buckets from a shed out in the yard. Sometimes the customers had to pull their own pints to save Sam getting up from his roost by the big open fire. It has been said that he had a gallon tankard behind the bar but in later times his doctor put him off drinking alcohol.

White HartThe bossCustomers

Sunday dinnertimes were always very laid-back with plenty to talk about and old Harry (a Sunday regular) would bring his wit and wisdom to the occasion. Some of the stories were very spicy. This was the place to find out what had been happening in Penistone. Those days are gone now and Sam won't be seen out and about in his vintage Rolls-Royce any more. Unfortunately Sam died at home (behind the current premises) in April 2011, at 63 years old. This man of great character will be missed around Penistone.

Aerial Views
Aerial views of the White Hart (1962 and 2002) can be found on an 'old pictures' page. See also the Old Inns page.

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