Part of our Best Pubs in London microsite. Is your local listed?
"The oldest licensed premises in London," reckons the lintel. It's a dubious claim. The building is only 100 years old, and built on a different plot to the original White Hart. But we like the sentiment. It stands beside the ancient crossroads of Drury Lane and Holborn, a junction whose antiquity probably goes back to Roman times.
The pub is easy to miss, its tiny frontage cowering beneath three giant brutalist buildings that really need sorting out (update: one of them has now gone!). Inside, it's a different matter. The pub extends back a long way, culminating in a brightly lit dining area. The plum seats are right at the front, though — a cosy pair of sofas in the window.
Whether it can be dated to medieval times or not, the pub certainly has history. Like many a vintage drinking hole, the White Hart claims Dick Turpin as a former customer. In this case, there's documentary evidence. A 1735 Old Bailey statement clearly puts him there. Then, in the 1840, the pub was dubbed 'the German Hall' and used as a gathering place for the Fraternal Democrats, an international society with a far-left agenda.
Today, the White Hart remains an everyman kind of place. No great flare or flamboyance, and a relatively limited choice of drinks... but a thoroughly pleasant place to while away the hours.