When we bought The White House in 2001 we found amongst the boxes and boxes of old paperwork and ephemera that was left behind a small neatly typed exercise book which had the title " A History of Charmouth Vol iv; The Street " by a Mr Reginald Pavey. This had a brief chapter on a property called No 2 Hillside which is now known as The White House. We knew from the deeds that the building had been built in 1827 and this chapter reproduced below has filled in some of the gaps.
On the north side of the Street and opposite to "The Elms" are one, two and three "Hillside". Three period houses of the nineteenth century. In 1320 William, Abbot of Forde,wishing to improve his manor of Charmouth, invited persons to build on parcels of land, 20 perches by 4, paying for each parcel 3 pence annually. Roberts in his history of Charmouth mentions this and remarked that the sites, on which the houses on the north side of the village were built, appeared to be of singular breadth and depth. The gardens are bounded on the north side by a stone wall, which has been called by some people "The monks' wall"
The original houses were known as "Follett's and Tibb's Tenements " and in 1736 were owned by Jacob Burrow, blacksmith, and others; Burrow's daughter Elizabeth married Edward Farr, another blacksmith. On Burrow's death Farr became owner and the property was called "Farr's Tenements", except a piece of land 80 ft. in length by 7ft. 6 inches in width, which was sold to William Juson, owner of Backlands Farm and the fields beyond.these were demolished sometime in the 1820s and the present three properties were built.
" No. 2 was owned in 1831 by Benjamin Jeanes, dissenting minister and on his death his widow took possession and in 1842 sold it to George Laurie for £820 purchased by Trust Funds. In 1867 it was put up for public auction and bought by the Misses Poulson for £700. When Sarah Poulson died Margaret Maria became sole.owner.
On her death it was left to Julie and Mary Trenchard and on their death to William Matthew Flinders Petrie. But on 7th October 1890 the Misses Trenchard purchased Petrie` s reversionary interest for £100. Margaret Poulson died in June 1890, When the Misses Trenchard inherited, repairs required were considerable, the property having been bought in 1867 and since then no painting or repairs had been done, and as the premises were very dilapidated it was necessary to spend £l00 at once. On the turn of the century No. 2 was a girls' School kept by Miss Cookson.
Later Sir Cecil Harrison, son of J.W. Harrison of Little Hurst stayed, here and owned the first motor car in the village — a De Dion Bouton.
This was not the first motor 'seen' in Charmouth. Alfred Hodges, born here in 1894 left Charmouth in 1916 for Canada, where he became a successful grocer. He returned to Charmouth for the first time in June 1960. He told rne that he remembers the school being sent out by Mr. Jones to see the first motor car ever seen in Charmouth (a wagon without horsos). It stuck on the hill and the boys helped to push it up and were each given a penny. No 2 Hillside in about 1930 was once again a Girls` School kept by Mrs. Measures.
For a few years Mrs. Gilbert was the owner and in about 1958-9 it was sold to Prince Charles de Rohan. Prince de Rohan was born at Folkestone in 1894, he was descended from the French noble family - the de Rohans records of which exist from 1118 A.D. During the French Revolution the de Rohans settled in Austria. Charles de Rohan was sent to Siberia by the Russians during the first world war and arrested by the Nazis during the second world War, when his estates were confiscated. He came to Charmouth in about 1958. His family repaid the debt of honour incurred by Cardinal Louis de Rohan, who was duped by Madame de la Motte Valois over Queen Marie Antoinette's necklace. The cost of the necklace was paid off in instalments by the family over a period of nearly a hundred years. The last payment being made in the early nineties of last century to the descendants of the jewellers, Bohmer and Bassenge. ("The Queen's Necklace" by Frances Messiker). The Prince died on 16th April 1965 and Princess de Rohan sold the house shortly afterwards. It has since then changed hands again. "
It has been a guest house/hotel/B&B since the late 1960s having had at least five owners that we know of since the Princess sold up in 1965. We have been here since 2001 and I am fairly sure we are the longset serving proprietors of the business and indeed owners in the last sixty or so years.
The brochure below is from 1971 when a weeks stay full board cost the princely sum of £14.50. There was a TV lounge, 3 toilets and two bathrooms for the eight rooms though each room had its own washbasin! The photo to the right is from a the early eighties when the A35 trunk road ran right through the village. The bypass which was opened in 1990 has taken much of the traffic to the north and runs east/west just beyond the ploughed field in the photo
There are many more fascinating photographs and stories of Old Charmouth to be found here on the local history society website..