The White Hart public house


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Kings Walk, Grays, Essex, RM17 6HR


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Statutory Address:
Kings Walk, Grays, Essex, RM17 6HR

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Thurrock (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


The White Hart public house at Grays in Essex is a purpose-built replacement of an earlier building of the same name on the same site, commissioned and built by the Charringtons Brewery in 1938.

Reasons for Designation

The White Hart at Grays in Essex, an inter-war public house built by the Charringtons Brewery in 1938, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the building is a well-preserved example of an 'improved' public house of the inter-war period, built by an important brewery company noted for the quality of its purpose-built houses;

* Historic interest: the building was a purpose-built replacement of an C18 building of the same name on the former High Street in Grays, which led to Grays Wharf on the River Thames. The building can be seen as a conscious effort to maintain the continuity of function and presence in the historic riverside community at Grays;

* Completeness: the White Hart has undergone little significant external alteration to its principal elevations and retains a high proportion of its original fixtures and fittings, including an exceptionally long bar counter and back bar;

* Plan form: the original interior plan of the White Hart remains clearly legible, with minor alterations which have not obscured the evidence of its original spatial sub-divisions and the functions of the different areas of the public house.


The development of inter-war ‘improved’ or ‘reformed’ pubs stemmed from a desire to cut back on the amount of drunkenness associated with conventional Victorian and Edwardian public houses. Licensing magistrates and breweries combined to improve the facilities and reputation of the building type. Improved pubs were generally more spacious than their predecessors, often with restaurant facilities, function rooms and gardens, and consciously appealed to families and to a mix of incomes and classes. Central, island serveries with counters opening onto several bar areas allowed the monitoring of customers and also the efficient distribution of staff to whichever area needed service. Many, although not all, of the new pubs were built as an accompaniment to new suburban development around cities, and a policy of ‘fewer and better’ was followed by magistrates both in town and on the outskirts. A licence might be granted for a new establishment on surrender of one or more licences for smaller urban premises. Approximately 1,000 new pubs were built in the 1920s – the vast majority of them on ‘improved’ lines - and almost 2,000 in the period 1935-39. Neo-Tudor and Neo-Georgian were the favoured styles, although others began to appear at the end of the period.

The White Hart public house in Grays, Essex was built in 1938 for Charrington's Brewery. It is believed to have been designed by the architect Edward Fincham who was based in Grays, and who had worked for the previous owners of the White Hart, the brewers Seabrooke and Sons. The new public house, built at a cost of £8,168, replaced an earlier White Hart, the presence of which had been recorded from the C18 as part of what was then Grays High Street. The White Hart has undergone later C20 internal and external alterations, but their impact upon the building has been far less dramatic than the changes to its setting and surroundings, which by 1973 had resulted in the demolition of most of the High Street's buildings and the redevelopment of much of the river frontage and the areas surrounding the public house.


An inter-war public house in Grays, Essex, completed in 1938 for the London-based brewers Charrington and Co Ltd and believed to have been designed by a local architect, Edward Fincham.


The building is constructed of red brick with ashlar stone dressings, tall brick chimneys and a plain tile roof covering.


The building is linear in form, aligned north-south, with central projections to front and rear and an original internal arrangement of five public rooms altered to create the present largely open-plan interior.


The building is of two storeys with attics, and its symmetrical front (east) elevation is formed of three sections Its central block has an advanced flat-roofed ground floor section, the roof of which forms a first-floor balcony with iron balustrading incorporating a white hart to its centre. This part of the building incorporates the original central entrance with flanking sections each with an off-centre doorway, a tripartite window to its outer side and a single window opening to the inner side. The two outer sections of the building have four upper floor windows, whilst the central block has five openings, the central one a doorway, set back behind the balcony. All of the window openings have glazing bar sash frames, those to the ground floor set below rubbed brick heads. The original central entrance is now blocked but retains a multi-pane rectangular overlight. Tapered painted stone pilasters flank this entrance and define the corners of the advanced ground floor section. The south return to this area contains a further single doorway with a semi-circular head incorporating a fanlight. The doorways to the flanking blocks have stone surrounds with fanlights set below swan-necked pediments. The rear (west) elevation faces onto a small garden area, and has a projecting gabled central two-storey wing with flanking flat-roofed areas. There have been alterations and additions to this elevation, including replacement uPVC window frames and lean-to canopies over two doorways. The upper storey (not inspected) contains accommodation for the publican and the public house kitchen.


The interior of the building has been modified to create an open-plan space, unifying what would most probably have been separate public bar areas at the south end of the building, and saloon bar areas to the north end, the constituent areas thought originally to have been separated by a moveable partition. To the rear of the central part of the building is a club room (not inspected) reported to retain dado panelling and an original fireplace. The unified south bar area has three-quarter height panelling, and fireplaces to the south end wall and north dividing wall, the latter one blocked but retaining a timber, hearth surround. The public bar area appears to have originally had two distinct major and minor compartments, now defined by a wide opening within the partition wall in the northern part of the bar area. The smaller area is still served by a separate entrance doorway in the south return wall of the advanced central section of the public house.

Between the north and south bar areas is an original entrance vestibule which led to a separate off-sales compartment, now incorporated with the bar counter, with the vestibule now opened up to create a passage linking the present north and south bar areas. The bar counter to the south bar area has a panelled front and returns at its southern end to meet the wall containing the entrance to the toilet facilities at the public bar area. At the north end of the bar counter in the public bar is a curved quadrant screen now forming an extension to the bar counter, but thought to have originally been a multi-pane glazed screen matching a surviving glazed screen in a corresponding location within the saloon bar.

The bar counter and back bar structures extend through into the saloon bar areas at the north end of the building, which retain painted, half-height panelling throughout. The panelled front of the bar counter is also painted, as is the blocked fireplace and its panelled surround to the partition wall adjacent to the glazed quadrant screen which extends from the bar counter. A further partition wall, presumed to have originally housed a moveable partition now defines the major and minor compartments of the unified saloon bar area, the latter with a fireplace to the centre of the north end wall. The saloon bar is served by separate toilets to the rear, accessed via a passage from the bar area which also leads to an external door to the north end of the building.

Fixtures and Fittings The bar areas of the building retain what appear to be the original bar and back bar structures, incorporating storage and display shelving and a decorative display parapet incorporating lettering referring to Charrington's brewery and its products. There is a still-operational dumb waiter facility located within the back bar, connected to an upper floor kitchen. Some internal doors, notably the half-glazed doors to the toilet facilities in the public and saloon bar areas appear to be original, as do the panelling and fireplaces in the bar areas.


Emily Cole, ‘The Urban and Suburban Public House in Inter-War England, 1918-1939’, Historic England Research Report Series, no. 4/2015


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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