Wight Life


Drawn and written by A W R Caws

The White Hart, Havenstreet

Drawing of the White Lion,

WE WOULDN'T HAVE HEARD about the new landlord at The White Hart if we hadn't met George, and when George, who seems to know all about Island pubs, said we ought to go over to meet him, we thought a trip to Havenstreet might be worth while. So, one evening we sallied forth, and, following the winding rural lane past the entrance to Nunwell House and on through East Ashey and Upton, we soon came upon the village tucked away to the south of Wootton Creek.

Standing on the corner of what appeared to be the main street was the inn, a red brick building of no great architectural beauty... but, once inside the lounge, we received a very friendly welcome from the cheerful moustached character behind the bar.

This turned out to be the chap we were looking for, Ian Lennie, who with his wife Marion, had taken over 'The White Hart' just three weeks before our visit.

Prior to coming here they had, for the two previous years, managed 'The Shoulder of Mutton' at Newport. Ian, a Newport man by birth, had spent most of his early life, including his schooldays, in Ryde. He had served for nine years in the Royal Corps of Transport, his duties taking him to many parts of the world including Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, Singapore, Malaya, Borneo and other exotic places. A non-commissioned officer, he was a member of the 'Corps of Fencing' Team (Far-East), and also a very keen horse rider.

There is a painting at the end of the bar of Ian on his horse, meticulously executed by Newport artist Peter Leath. Ian has kept up his riding and is an enthusiastic follower of the Isle of Wight Fox Hounds, which, he told me, have held meets at 'The White Hart' for over a hundred years.

Drawing of the bar White Hart, Havenstreet

This practice still continues about four times a year, and there is a photograph in the public bar of the horses and hounds outside the inn, just to prove it.

Ian also holds office as the chief catering officer to the Island Fire Brigades and, what is more, he has an impressive bright yellow helmet!

In the time between leaving the army and going to the 'Shoulder of Mutton', he ran a smithy in Ryde where, besides general blacksmith work, he kept his hand in shoeing horses. Talking to the locals, it would seem that this inn could be about two hundred years old. The lounge and public bars are divided by a longish pair of counters from which service is given to both. In the public bar, there is a photo taken, as far as one can tell, early this century when the inn was quite a bit smaller. The splendid fireplace in that bar, constructed from roof tiles taken from the original building, incorporates in its design the figure of a hart, an appropriate decoration. The saloon has on its walls a colourful collection of pictures showing various military and naval uniforms. The military connection is carried further by a framed set of regimental badges hanging beside the bar, a genuine Gurkha Kukri, and a miniature drum on the counter. A staff officer's sword and scabbard, dating back to Victorian times, hangs from a ceiling beam.

The White Hart appears, at the moment, to be used mainly by people living in the immediate locality. The surrounding land is primarily agricultural, with the Forestry Commis- sion's Firestone Copse close at hand to the north west. Also in the vicinity is the Island's last reminder of the steam trains which were, in earlier times, used daily throughout the Wight. If, as he hopes, Ian can extend the lounge, he intends to offer traditional English food, and specialise in a variety of English country wines.