BRITISH ANTIQUES at THE WHITE HORSE COUNTRY PUB AND RESTAURANT
"MAKING HSTORY: ANTIQUARIES AND ANTIQUES IN BRITAIN" at Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Centre for British Art is presenting historic treasures of international importance from the Society of Antiquaries of London...........
John and Lisa Harris, owners of the White Horse Country Pub and Restaurant in Marbledale (Washington), Ct. are also featuring a fine collection of British antiques and all all on display in his restaurant. Many of the artifacts and antiques date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. John Harris explains, 'When the White Horse Country Pub and Restaurant was first conceived as an idea, my wife and I decided that rather than trying to duplicate an 'authentic' English Pub we should try to create a really comfortable place - a home away from home with great food - English, French, and American classics, great drinks, and affordable prices. We envisioned beautiful surroundings directly above the Aspetuck River, bringing nature into the restaurant and creating breath-taking views of the natural landscape, also adding a roaring fire, a warm copper and mahogany bar, a beautiful interior design utilizing original pub tables, and booths imported from England, and as a crowning touch adding primarily British artifacts and antiques, all museum quality - and, in effect, almost creating a museum within the restaurant but without it being obvious or feeling like one.
"Some of our antiques were bought at auction, some from private hands. Going back into several centuries, on display are the following: a castle land deed of 1488, the very first English Newspaper with the first ad - a lost and found for a little dog, also the Great Seal of Queen Elizabeth 1, attached to a Royal Pardon, and also a document signed by none other than Robert Dudley, her consort and head of the army, at London in 1588 during the Spanish Armada - both considered national treasures, unique and rare, and consequently permission from the British Government was only granted after scholarship rights were accorded to the British Museum for seven years, and they were allowed to take careful photos for archiving.
"The long 16th. century tavern table came out of Leeds Castle, the same castle where Henry VIII lived for a while and where Queen Elizabeth I was a prisoner in her youth. This table has been in continuous use for over 400 years - and I bet a lot of good ale, victuals, and lively chatter have been absorbed by that oak," adds John Harris. Nearby hanging high above the fire burning in the main dining room's fireplace is an 1840 pub sign which dates from the original White Horse pub in Mayfair, London.
There is an interesting document with the original seal signed by William Clopton - 'The 21st. day of January in the 41st year of the reign of Our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth by the Grace of God of England, France, and Ireland, Queen Defender of the Faith 1599." Clopton descended from one of the noblest families in the land, and he had a politically arranged marriage to his cousin Anne in 1586 (he was 12 and she 9). Eventually Clopton inherited all the estates, lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, where in 1597, he rented the house next to him, called 'new place' to his good friend William Shakespeare, who subsequently purchased it in 1599. Records indicate that this was the second biggest house in town, with Clopton retaining the biggest. Shakespeare, it is said, based the character of Ophelia in Hamlet, after a personal incident relating to the Cloptons; also Juliet was similarly inspired by the very colorful Clopton family.
Nearby is an Elizabethan chest well over 400 years old featuring the geometric shapes that were fashionable on furniture made throughout the sixteenth century. It is made of old hard oak and sports ancient wormholes. Today its drawers hold the menus of the White Horse Country Pub and Restaurant. Mounted above the Elizabethan chest is a c.1480 figure carved on an oak panel. There is also a pair of royal court chest panels, c.1592 from an enormous chest discovered in a stately Elizabethan home and etched with the dates, 15 and 92. And, straddling the front door of the White Horse are ornately carved sixteenth-century finial wings or brackets that came from a Royal for-poster bed.
There is a 1597 manuscript with the Great Seal of Queen Elizabeth I, carved by Nicholas Hilliard and used exclusively by the Queen on matters of great importance - and one of only a handful in existence. Scholarship rights were granted to the British Museum. Nearby is a copy of the first English newspaper, The London Gazette, printed in 1675 and bringing news from around Europe about Armadas and Men of War Galleons, banquets attended by persons of quality, and the first advertisement - "a lost and found" for a small dog.
Other important documents found in the White Horse is a castle land deed from northern France (Normandy) and dated 1488 - the part that England once occupied - and written in old French on parchment.
There is also a document relating to the Spanish Armada and signed by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. 24th. July 1588. Robert Dudley was Captain General of all the armies and forces raised to resist The Spanish Armada. This document was signed at Tilbury, London. Robert Dudley is said to have been Queen Elizabeth I's favorite companion and suitor and when he was ordered to resist the Armada and protect England with his outnumbered forces at Tilbury, the Queen gave her legendary clarion call to the troops. "My Loving People.....I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm......" This document goes on to appoint Sir Moyle Finch, the Queen's Treasurer of Wars for the armies and forces under Leicester's command, a Colonel of a Regiment of Foot, in English, signed by Lord Dudley and sealed with his armorial papered seal. It continues, 'Robert Earle of Leicester, Baron of Denbighe: Lord great Steward of her Majesties householde, etc. And her highness's Lieutenant and Captain Generall of all her Armyes and Forces imployed as well against foreign Enemyes & Invasions as domesticall Traitors and Rebellions........FORASMUCHAS yet hath pleased the Queenes Majesty (upon certain intelligence of the great preparacons, that the Kinge and other Complices and confederates of the league, hade made and of the approach of their forces, with intent to invade this her Realme of England) to appointe me her Highness Lieutenant generall of all her Armyes and forces leavyed and imployed for the defence of her Royall person and defence of her people and Contrey against all attemptes of forreine Ennemyes......"
There is an unusual pamphlet from Parliament dated 1649, with Lord Fairfax, as commander of the army, declaring loyalty to parliament, just after King Charles I was deposed, during the climax of the civil war. This broadside would have been placed in town squares and important taverns for all to read.
There is also a letter patent of Queen Elizabeth I from March, 1562: 'Elizabeth I, Queen of England Westminster 22 March 1562.' This Letter portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was executed in pen and ink within the initial E of a Royal Letters Patent Decree, depicting the Queen in flowing robes, bearing the insignia of State, and seated against a stylized background beneath a canopy with a baldachin captioned, 'Vivat Regina,' the document being a grant of the manor of Holderness, the manor of Crestingham, a message called Holland in the possession of the monastery of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. With appurtenances, to Robert Thorpe and Francis Boldero, written in Latin in a handsome Chancery hand, engrossed historiated majuscules and adorned with calligraphic heraldic beasts and emblems, endorsement Westminster 22 March 1562.
There is also a great selection of horse brasses at the White Horse. Used since medieval times, mentioned by Chaucer, some of which at the White Horse are over 200 years old. Originally, they were used to decorate the bridles and harnesses of the shire horses, and were made with designs that were often personal while others were symbolic of the villages and counties. As cars and trucks began to replace the beautiful and massive shire horses, these decorative brasses were often placed upon beams in village pubs - a tradition that continues still today in England. Moving into the twentieth century, behind the White Horse Bar is an Indian Scout Motorcycle from 1920. This was the first year of production for this bike, which eventually evolved into the Chief, with revolutionary engineering. This bike was far ahead of its time, and it became the obsession of Burt Munroe who eventually broke the land speed record at 200 mph - after much tinkering. The beautiful 1920 red Indian motorbike came from a museum in Florida. Says John Harris, "It is not only a marvel of engineering, but also a beautiful work of art, well deserving of its place behind the bar." Last but not least, there is also a signed Rolling Stones Guitar from the 1970s - which was a personal gift for John Harris