The White Hart in Llangybi was first built in the early 1500s and was to become the property of Henry VIII as part of Jane Seymour's wedding dowry, while a century later Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have used it as his headquarters in Monmouthshire during the English Civil War. The interior still retains no fewer than 11 fireplaces from the 1600s, a wealth of exposed beams, original Tudor period plasterwork and even a priest hole.
For years, students of English literature were mystified by a couple of lines in the poem 'Usk' written by the most famous poet of his day, TS Eliot: "Do not suddenly break the branch, or hope to find The white hart over the white well...".
Usk by T.S. Eliot
Do not suddenly break the branch, or
Hope to find
The white hart over the white well.
Glance aside, not for lance, do not spell
Old enchantments. Let them sleep.
'Gently dip, but not too deep',
Lift your eyes
Where the roads dip and where the roads rise
Seek only there
Where the grey light meets the green air
The Hermit's chapel, the pilgrim's prayer.
Only recently has it been established that Eliot was referring not to an animal but to The White Hart Village Inn. Touring Wales in 1935 the poet had visited the old hostelry which does indeed stand not far from the village well, once painted white and now in ruins.