THE GREAT HOUSE. Listed by English Heritage (ID no. 85105) as ‘Homelands… a largely unaltered early C19 house with its interior features virtually complete.’
WHITE HART INN. Listed by English Heritage (ID no. 85106) as ‘Hotel, formerly a coaching inn. Circa mid C18 with late C19 extensions at rear… A fairly unaltered C18 coaching inn still in use as an hotel.’ It is normally said that the inn was established in the reign of George I. The position and architecture support an eighteenth-century date but not that it was a coaching inn: wheeled transport did not reach Moretonhampstead until the building of the new road to Exeter in 1815.
WHITE HORSE INN (GRAY’S HOTEL). Established at least by the mid-17th century, it became an important posting inn, like its near neighbour the White Hart, with a malt-house alongside. William Soper was the first landlord known to us. When he died in 1795, his wife Mary succeeded him. From all accounts she was a merry widow, and became one of Moreton’s most popular landladies over the next ten years. In April 1799, Mary was expecting to marry a Sergeant of Marines. However, on pretence of being ordered back to barracks in Newton Abbot, he jilted her. Her son was born in October 1799! Her other claim to fame is that in 1803 she reared a 3- year old pig which weighed 705 lb – ‘the fattest ever seen in Moreton since the memory of the oldest living person’. Mary Soper was followed by Samuel Cann, who went on to develop the White Hart. In 1822 it was taken over by the Gray family, who were farming at Addiscott. Renamed Gray’s Hotel, it was run as a family concern until the 1930s, the Grays becoming prominent citizens of the town.
The White Horse was the site of a major fire in 1838, which was complicated by the fact that the landlord had reluctantly agreed to store a quantity of ‘rock powder’ (gunpowder for blasting work) in an outhouse for a customer, which cramped the style of the fire-fighters until it exploded. The fire caused substantial damage to the nearest properties in Pound Street as well as to its own outbuildings and to the house between it and the White Hart.
In the 20th century, Harvey Neck, a regular at the White Horse, was sitting in the Denno, as the Tap Room was called, when a visitor asked who he was. The visitor was told ‘Oh, he’s only the village idiot’! Harvey, a staunch Moretonian, retorted ‘Not so much of the Village, Moreton’s a Town!’ The White Horse claims to have a resident Ghost, fond of switching on lights at night, and slamming the door in your face. It so impressed a visiting German playwright that he wrote a play about it. He returned a year later with the cast to make its acquaintance again. Listed by English Heritage (ID no. 85104) as ‘Public house. Circa 1840-50 with slightly later C19 addition to right and late C19 rear wing. C20 interior alterations and rear additions.’