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White Horse Inn, by Mary Charlotte Greene (copyright Museum of Cambridge & Cambs Collection)

2 (100) Castle Street, White Horse Inn, Folk Museum, Museum of Cambridge

History of 2 Castle Street

1959 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments Survey of Cambridge: No. 2 Castle Street, formerly the White Horse Inn…of two storeys with cellars and attics, has walls of plastered timber-framing and brick and tile-covered roofs. The range to the street was built in the 16th cent. In the following century a loftier addition, more than doubling the size of the house, was made on the W and to this a W wing was added c. 1700. The most notable feature … is the very large chimney-stack in the SW wall of the original range; the use of pine structural timbers in the 17th cent. work is a feature of some interest and is found in other Cambridge houses. Mainly elm is used in the earlier work…. preserved in the yard is exhibited a shop-front of some elegance removed from no.45 Bridge Street (now destroyed).

White Horse Inn – original wattle and daub wall. c.1600

The building was originally a farmhouse, probably dating from the 15th century. References to ‘the farmhouse’ describe the building as ‘hardly massive, but just one room deep.’ The area was doubled later in the 17th century when a stable yard was included.


1646: licensed as the White Horse Inn

Granted by Thomas Hill, Master of Trinity, who had been given this authority by Parliament after Richard Holdsworth was imprisoned by Cromwell. The inn is described as having enough room for twenty horses and thirty men.


The major portion of the old inn was built in the 17th century. A wing was added around the year 1700 ‘to the west’ and also new windows and various other ‘partitions.’ At one time the inn had an overhanging storey on the street but this was removed early in the 20th century and the front rebuilt with modern windows. It was not a coaching inn nor was it used for carrier cart storage but farmers brought in their carts from outlying villages with livestock etc. and stopped for refreshment at the inn.

The names of the landlords can be traced back to the 1720s from the Register of Licences for the parish of St Peter and other books. The licence had to be returned by the landlord each year. One interesting feature is the swapping over of inns between two landlords.

Loggan 1688 map of Castle area of Cambridge

The White Horse Inn is visible opposite St Gile’s Church which is marked as ‘7’ on the map.


1720-1763: Richard Benstead. He was also rate collector in the parish 1724-5.


1764-1766: Elizabeth Benstead (widow) took over the licence from Richard


1767-1774: John Wallis


1774: John Wallis, White Horse: Thomas Banks, Three Swans



Thomas Banks, White Horse; John Wallis, Three Swans


1775-1790: Thomas Banks


1791: John White. In 1791 he is also the Overseer of the Poor in the parish with Charles Adamson.


1792-1806: Mary White


1807-1818: Joseph Shuker


1819-1841: Elizabeth Shuker (widow)


1834: Simon Cook and Harriett Manning of Stow-cum-Quy married and moved to the White Horse Inn. While there they had two sons, William Manning and Robert. They moved before 1841 and their next child was born in Waterbeach in 1841. Simon and his family emigrated to Sydney in 1850 on the ‘Kate’ and settled in Wollongong where Simon was a farmer until his death in 1868. (from correspondence from family).


In Cambridge Revisited (1921) it is said that the Old White Horse Inn had a hiding hole used by highwaymen in its exceptionally wide central chimney breast.

Kitchen fireplace White Horse Inn

Workmen in the 1930s also discovered a tiny room with a window and no door at first floor level that could be only entered by scrambling along the edge of the roof from another window. It was speculated that this was some kind of bolt hole, possibly for highwaymen.


1839: 18th September – the White Horse in Magdalene Street [almost certainly this location] was used for an inquisition in front of the coroner, Mr Cooper, into the death of Robert Sivill who had hung himself at the premises the previous day. He had been drinking and went to sleep in a loft yard in the afternoon. The verdict was death by temporary insanity produced by drinking. [Inns were often used as venues for such meetings.]


1841: unnumbered

John Carter, 35, publican (licence holder 1841-1874)

Elizabeth, 25 [Elizabeth Brooks from Dry Drayton; when they married in 1840 John was an ostler.]

Thomas Bench, 75, hawker

Musicians outside the White Horse Inn circa 1850

16 Nov: 2 men of 63rd Regiment billeted for 7 days



15 Jan: 2 men of 9th Regiment billeted for 2 days


1851: unnumbered

John Carter, 45, publican, b Potton Beds


Eliza Ann

Rosaline Elizabeth

Frances Emma, 10 mos, b Cambridge

Martha Pitt, 18, servant, b Kingston

Ann Carter, sister, 37, b Potton Beds

Edward Burgess, lodger, 52, baker, b Suffolk

Charles Danful, lodger, bricklayer, 33, b Norfolk

James West, 32, lodger, blacksmith, b Norfolk

Uriah Savidge, 30, lodger, cotton weaver, b Norfolk

William Pryce, 22, baker, b Cambs



8 Nov: 2 men of 90th Regiment billeted for 7 days.


1859: There was an auction “of the estates and 50 old licensed inns and public houses” on 22nd June 1859. the White Horse Inn was one of these sold and was described as having ‘a large yard and a ten stall stable.’


1861: (100) White Horse

John Carter, 54, publican, b Beds

Elizabeth, 50, b Dry Drayton

Eliza, 18, b Cambridge

Roseline E, 17, pupil teacher, b Cambridge

William Curtis, lodger, 18, agricultural labourer, b Hunts

John Markham, 18, agricultural labourer, b Hunts


1871: (100)

John Carter, 64, victualler, b Beds

Elizabeth, 59, b Cambs

Anne, 26, b Cambridge

Rosalind, 24, b Cambridge

Henry Miller, 15, b Cambridge


1872: E Lacon and Co. Ltd are owners of the inn


1881: (100 Castle Street White Horse)

Elizabeth Carter, widow, 64, inn keeper, b Cambridge [John died 10/3/1875. Elizabeth held the licence from 1875-1882. Their daughter Elizabeth held the licence from 1883-1884]

Eliza A, 30, b Cambridge

Elizabeth, 28, b Cambridge

Kettle’s Yard: Susan Haylock, widow, 60, washerwoman, b Cambridge


1891: The White Horse

William Loveday, 39, publican, b Kibworth Leics [William took over the licence in 1884. His father was a builder from Leicester who had come to Cambridge to build the Divinity Schools in St John’s Street, All Saints Church in Jesus Lane and the first part of St Luke’s Church. His father lodged at the White Horse Inn and his son eventually married the landlord’s daughter. William Loveday’s name can be seen in the window glass of the old bar room and Lil’s name is seen on other window glass.]

Rosalind ‘Lil’ Elizabeth [daughter of John and Elizabeth Carter], 38, b Cambridge

Harold, 6, b Cambridge

Mary Gower, 47, servant, b Isleham

William Clark, 17, servant, b Oakington


1898: Charles Henry Robinson took over the licence


1899: Charles Benefield took over the license



Samuel H Chandler, 53, innkeeper, b Bolder Hants [Samuel held the licence from 1900-1901]

Mary L, 15, daughter, b Mansfield Woodhouse Notts



Willoughby Dudley-Hay and his wife started their married life at the inn.  Prior to 1901 Willoughby had been a bosun on the Western Telegraph Company cable laying ship ‘Amber’.Their three children were born at the inn. They stayed there for 33 years. When one of the daughters married at St Giles church at 8.30am, a policeman held up the traffic outside so that Willoughby and Sarah could cross the road. They kept pigs and chickens in their yard and according to their grand-daughter, writing in 2010, there was a haunted cupboard on the landing.

Willoughby Dudley Hay and family



Willoughby Dudley-Hay, 50, licensed victualler, b London

Sarah Ann, 39, b Berks

Dorothy, 9, b Cambridge

Winifred, 6, b Cambridge

Irene, 4, b Cambridge

[In 1901 Willoughby Dudley-Hay was a boatswain, married aged 40, living in Limehouse, London]


1913: White Horse

Willoughby Dudley Hay

Headquarters Cambridge Town and County Motor and Cycling Club


1914: the land value of the site was reassessed. Owner was E Lacon & Co Ltd, Albion Breweries, Cambridge

White Horse Inn circa 1920s



Press Cutting about the public debate for a Cambridge Museum

Press Cutting on debate for Cambridge museum c. 1930


1934: Alderman E Saville Peck, chemist, proposed the setting up of a museum devoted to local life in Cambridge. At the time the council had purchased the White Horse Inn with the intention of pulling it down for road widening. Instead, the old inn was hired an used as the premises of the new museum.



Museum for Cambridge 1935

Museum for Cambridge 1935



Cambridge Folk Museum opened. The first curator was R C Lambert.


Castle Street photo J Baldwin 1937



Visit by Queen Mary



At some point during the 1930s during the demolition of the west side of Bridge Street by St John’s College, the shopfront of 45 Bridge Street was salvaged and given to the Folk Museum. The picture suggests that the shop front was originally a stand-alone exhibit against the wall of the museum yard.

Shop front in yard of Folk Museum circa 1940


Enid Porter portrait (Museum of Cambridge)


Enid Porter appointed curator

Enid Porter wrote and published widely on many subjects.

Enid Porter publications

Coffee Houses of Cambridge

The Coprolite Diggers

Barnwell Priory

Old Cambridge Inns

Proctors and Prostitutes

Boat Building

River Trade

Crime and Punishment


The Railway

James Withers – poet

Whittlesey Mere

The Guildhall


Green Street

Newmarket Road


Fitzroy & Burleigh Streets

Guide Books & Postcards

Bookbinding & Printing

Napoleonic prisoners

Stage Coaches

The Manea Society

Witchcraft & Longstanton

Witchcraft in Warboys

19th century Education

Willie Tredgett

Fenland Skating


Riot and Rag

Midsummer Fair


St Andrew’s Street

Market Square

Fenland Peat

Cambridge Street Names

Castle End

Bridge Street


May Day (excerpt from Cambridge Customs and Folklore)

Enid Porter article on Butter from Gwerin Journal (1)

Enid Porter article on Butter from Gwerin Journal (2)

Enid Porter article on Butter from Gwerin Journal (3)


1951: The 1951 Brief Guide to the Museum of Cambridge



1962: Cambridge and County Folk Museum

Miss E Porter resident curator (at no. 3)


1971: The Hearth and Kitchen

May Day


White Horse Inn

White Horse Inn

White Horse Inn

White Horse Inn

Folk Museum


Museums Cambridge Folk Museum (11)



Festival of Ideas



Rick’s Radical Mugs



South Asian History Month

Arts in Prisons

Cambridge Black Heritage



Digging up the stories of Cambridge




























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