Research thus far suggests that the current White Hart Inn building appears to date from before 1835 when it was originally built by the Tyssen-Amhurst family specifically as a Public House, part of the Foulden/Didlington Estates. It was part of a development of new farm buildings and wood yard along White Hart Street. The first recorded landlord was registered in 1836.
The White Hart Inn has been at the centre of the cultural & social life of the village of Foulden, for the last 180+ years.
During the last thirteen years the pub has been leased by the freeholder to the proprietors of a local small hobby brewery. The brewery has employed a series of management couples to run the pub for them. For a variety of reasons, most have failed to capitalise on the potential of The White Hart Inn
In 2018 the freeholder and brewery agreed a three-year sub-lease to a couple with extensive experience in the pub/restaurant trade. This marked a turning point for the White Hart, trade immediately improved with additional custom coming from outside the village. Regular events and themed evenings provided for a variety of tastes. Sadly, after only just one year, professional differences between the brewery and the publicans resulted in the couple leaving suddenly. The successful couple were not replaced, and the freeholder and brewery closed The White Hart Inn in March 2019, leaving a diary full of bookings for Mother’s Day lunch disappointed.
The pub appears to have been a good investment for the current owner, as it has been for past owner-operators of the business. However, the condition of the building and its fixtures have been allowed to deteriorate. It has not seen any significant modernisation over recent year to meet the challenges of maintaining a Public House current with changing tastes. Following the closure of the pub in March 2019 when the brewery withdrew due to their financial failure, the pub has remained empty with the Village expecting the pub to be re- open under new management.
The property was listed for sale in September 2019. It’s the opinion of many experts that the sale price did not reflect the value of the building as a Public House, more that of the building’s residential potential. Sure enough, in March 2020, a planning application was made, by potential buyer, to convert the building into a residential dwelling, stating that the Pub was an unviable business.
It was at this time that a number of village residents recognised that action needed to be taken to save The White Hart Inn as a valuable asset for the residents of Foulden. With the support of around one third of households in the village The White Hart Inn Community Asset Action Group (WHICAAG) was formed and, together with individual residents, set about challenging the planning application. In June 2020 Breckland District Council (BDC) rejected the planning application as an unacceptable loss of a community facility. In addition, the applicant had failed to justify that the pub was unviable, also that pub had been marketed at a price that reflected its potential as a residence rather than a pub. Whilst fighting the planning application The WHICAAG, on behalf of the residents, also applied to BDC and were successful in having the Pub listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). This means that the community has exclusive rights to be treated as a bidder to purchase the pub. When, in August 2020, the potential purchaser made a second, and identical application for change of use, the presence of the ACV served to reinforce objector’s arguments resulting in this second application being rejected, for much the same reason as the first.
In order to submit an offer, on behalf of the community, The White Hart Inn Community Benefit Society Ltd has been created.
In the past, the White Hart Inn has traded very successfully and considerable goodwill towards the pub remains within the village and in the local area. The reopening of the pub as the Foulden Community Pub & Café, a local community hub, will restore it a very sought-after destination throughout West Norfolk.