History of The White Horse and Shere

The White Horse country pub is a Grade II Listed Building at the very heart of the Surrey village of Shere, set against the backdrop of the North Downs.

Originally a farmhouse built in the 15th century, an inglenook fireplace and new wing were added in the 16th century at the same time as Shere began to prosper, thanks to the wool trade. As the years progressed, and traditional ale was replaced by hopped beer in the late 18th century, the farmhouse was transformed into an alehouse with its own brewery. More rooms were then added as business flourished.

Two local ladies were not so happy about The White Horse’s success, mind you. In 1886, they gave a small drinking fountain to the village of Shere. Being very religious, they believed alcohol was the devil, and they wanted people to have an alternative local drink! Of course, these days, we serve delicious soft drinks at The White Horse, so you don’t have to depend on the drinking fountain!

During the last century, extensive renovations have uncovered hidden treasures from the past at The White Horse, including parchment documents and a pair of Elizabethan shoes - a good luck token often buried in the walls of ancient houses. In 1955, a secret cellar was also discovered on the premises, reputedly containing barrels of brandy. This fuelled stories that the pub was a favourite haunt of smugglers! It is even rumoured that timber from Nelson’s ship, ‘Victory,’ has been used in the pub!

Shere itself has many old houses and cottages dating from the 16th to the 19th century. The bubbling waters of the River Tillingbourne, flowing through the village, is part of Shere’s history and today, adds to its olde worlde charm. Shere has lured many Hollywood film producers, and one of Hollywood’s most romantic films  ‘The Holiday,’ starring Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, was shot in the village, which included a key scene in The White Horse. ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral,’ ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’,‘The Wedding Date’ and ‘Molly Moon’ were also shot in beautiful Shere.

Listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as ‘Essire,’ Shere may have actually originally taken its name from the tiver and the name ‘Scir’ meaning, in old English: ‘bright.’ The name is recorded as ‘Sire’ in 1229 and ‘Scyre’ in 1235 and, finally, ‘Shere’ in 1462. Shere is listed has having two mills and a church is also recorded. The present medieval church, St James, has original features dating all the way back ot the Norman period. The village was divided into four manors in the medieval period – two in Shere and two in Gomshall. The Bray family became landowners in 1486, acquiring all four manors and they continue as lords to this day.

Shere is surrounded by the beautiful North Downs, offering walkers and nature lovers miles of beautiful scenery, picturesque villages and rolling countryside galore. If you’re visiting this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, why not visit the infamous ‘Silent Pool,’ a spring-fed lake at the foot of the North Downs? Considered by many to be a sacred site, legend has it King John abducted a woodcutter’s daughter there, forcing her into the deep waters where she drowned. It is said her ghost can still be seen at midnight!

If you love stately homes, don’t forget to visit Albury Park Mansion too. Set in five acres of breath-taking landscaped gardens, this Grade II listed building once hosted the Coronation Banquet of King George III.

After all of that sight seeing and enjoying the history and beauty of Shere and the surrounding area, gather your friends and family at the historic White Horse pub restaurant. Sample our Sunday roasts inside the pub in the special place where ‘The Holiday’ was filmed; or tuck into a seasonal special in our courtyard outside.  

We’re sure you’ll agree, a visit to The White Horse is the perfect end to a perfect day.


You can find The White Horse on Shere Lane in Shere, Surrey. Simply key GU5 9HS into your satnav.