Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The White House, Dulcote

On Saturday we motored down to Somerset for the weekend, heading for the tiny hamlet of Dulcote, just outside Wells.

We were booked into The White House B&B, which is owned and run by an old friend, Mary Harris, who many of my old friends and colleagues from the Further Education sector will remember as Mary Barker who managed NILTA, the National Information and Learning Technologies Association.

Mary with Fran and I in the gorgeous garden at the rear of The White House. Now you may be thinking "but the house in the first photograph is plainly not white..." And you would be right. Even around the back there's a distinctly pinkish aspect to the stucco on the wings.

According to the information on the excellent village website (www.dulcote.com) the house was for several centuries an inn and then later a public house, presumably offering both drink and accommodation as an inn, but refreshments only as a public house. The earliest record of this type of use comes from the year 1696 when John West was inn-keeper. I wonder if he exasperated the local anglers by rejecting a lot of their fish...? Anyway, during its time as an inn it was known as The White Horse.

In 1913 the leaseholders, Richard and Sarah Pointing, bought the inn by auction. At the time it had a "parlour, tap-room, cellar, kitchen, larder, W.C, 4 bedrooms. The outbuildings are stone -- stables for 7, pigsty, trap-house, garden, meal-house and store". Mary showed us the room they thought might have been the main tap room - with a huge fireplace with oven set to the side and signs of the existence of fixed apparatus for swinging pots over the fire in the brickwork. It has a lovely atmosphere - as a place should where generations of village folk have come to enjoy food and drink and genial company.

Folklore takes over a little now, but it is thought that after Richard Pointing died, Sarah (listed as proprietor of the White Horse Public House in 1914 but as a private resident by 1919) thought to change the name to something less obviously an inn. She did this in the most expedient way. Rather than have a whole new sign made, she had the letter R of "horse" changed to a U and the building became The White House!

Today the B&B has three suites available for guests. We stayed in The Loft, a suite of three rooms at first floor level. It is detached from the house and other accommodation and is quiet and private and provides a lot of space and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Entrance to the garden area from the car park. The garden is divided into areas by low level shrubbery, which allow you to view over them and this gives the impression of lots of space. In fact the garden is big - I'm not sure my plant-killing prowess would allow me to look after such a garden!

When we arrived, Mary made a welcoming cup of coffee and we caught up something like a decade(?) sitting in the summer house with the doors wide open in warm sunshine and straight away we felt at home and starting to relax.

It was so nice that after we had finished our coffee and Mary had left us to unpack and explore on our own, I returned to the summer house and drew a half-hour sketch of the house and garden from the viewpoint at the rear of the garden.

The village has more to show us, but we'll save that for another entry and over this weekend break we'll also have a look at Glastonbury Abbey, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere's grave, the Chalice Well and Wells Cathedral and city.


The White House B&B: www.thewhitehousedulcote.co.uk
Dulcote: www.dulcote.com

Somerset Weekend Index

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