Castle Inn, Dolphin Lane, Dover, Kent CT16 1PF
The White Hart Inn, a Grade II listed building, was opened in 1790 with Maurice Baker as the Licensee.
It is situated in Dolphin Lane one of Dover 's oldest thoroughfares but with the opening of Russell Street in 1838, the Inn is usually described as being on the corner of Dolphin Lane and Russell Street. The White Hart (an archaic name for a mature stag) was the personal emblem of Richard II and is the fifth most popular name for a pub.
The 1861 census records the Licensee to be a Mr George Tyler who lived there with his wife, three sons, two House Servants - sisters aged 13 and 16 and two boarders. The inn traded under this name until August 1891 when the interior was destroyed by fire (the Licensee 's mother having accidently overturned an oil lamp) that caused the closure of the building. According to an account in The Dover Express, a Mr. E. Spain was passing at the time the fire started and he not only rescued the woman but also called the police. Luckily the exterior of the building escaped serious damage and after restoration it was reopened in 1898 as the Castle Inn with Oliver Gibbons as Licensee. At that time the inn must have had a steady influx of customers as there were many more labour intensive jobs about then, such as engineering, shipping and agriculture. The 1901 census records no boarders and only one servant - the Licensee being Henry John Benchley. One major local employer was the Phoenix Brewery in Dolphin Lane off Castle Street, which spread over about five acres. Of course Dover was also a Garrison Town and home to many hundreds of soldiers who no doubt would have been looking for a pint or two! The 1911 census records the Licensee as A. J. Parker who shared the premises with his wife, two children, his sister (who acted as housekeeper), his niece and a Belgian visitor. Dover continued to be home to many industrial ventures between the wars; the Phoenix Brewery itself did not cease brewing until 1927 and bottling of beer continued until 1950 at the Phoenix site. That the Castle Inn was a viable business is reflected by the inn being in constant use with no break in licensees until WW2 when it was closed by enemy action in 1942.
It reopened in 1950 and remained a popular 'local ' helped no doubt by patrons from the old Southern Television studios opposite and those regulars from the old Salutation who switched to the Castle Inn when their pub was demolished in 1963. Local Dovorian remembered Ran Lobeck holding weekly quiz nights there, several young ladies remembered 'Hen nights ' and the popular karaoke evenings at the Castle. I was also told that Cliff Richard and The Shadows used to frequent the Inn whilst playing at the Grenada and there is certainly evidence to show that Cliff Richard was top of the bill at the first stage show on April 25, 1960 after the Grenada was renamed the ABC.
In recent years the Inn hasfallen on hard times with the closure of the ABC Cinema, Southern Television Studios and the demolishing of much of the local area prior to its regeneration. It closed in February 2008 but recently reopened in November 2010 with Paul McMullan as the Licensee.
Date Listed: 17 December 1973 TR 3241 1/92
OS Grid Reference: TR3211141464
OS Grid Coordinates: 632111, 141464
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1254, 1.3157
2009 - The bus garage was demolished
Local Authority: DoverDover Town Guide