1. Skip to content

East Norton

The White Bull Public House

The building dates from around 1690.
It was reported in the Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science that on the 4th July 1803:
“A ball of fire struck the White Bull, public-house, kept by John Hubbard at East Norton. The chimney was thrown down by it, the roof in part torn off, the windows shattered to atoms, and the dairy, pantry, etc converted into a heap of rubbish. It appeared like a luminous ball of considerable magnitude; and, on coming in contact with the house, exploded with a great noise and a very oppresive sulphurous smell. Some fragments of this ball were found near the spot, and subjected to chemical analysis by a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who found them to consist of the same ingredients as those stones of similar origin analysed by Mr. Howard and other chemists, and nearly in the same proportions. The surface of these stones is of a dark colour, and varnished as if by fusion. From some indentures on the surface it appears probable that the ball was soft when it descended; and it was obviously in a state of ignition, as the grass, etc is burnt up where the fragments fell. Its motion while in the air was very rapid, and apparently parallel to the horizon.”

The White Bull closed as an inn around 1962 just after the magistrates’ court, situated next door, was transferred to Thurnby. The first owners of the White Bull as a private residence asked, via the “Leicester Mercury” for any recollections or reminiscences of the Inn when it was trading. The following are a selection of the replies.

1)“Dear Mr L

I read your letter in the Leicester Mercury last week and thought the following might be of interest.

The White Bull was owned and occupied by my grandparents for approximately twelve years. Up to about 1919 it was part of the Keythorpe Estate and belonged to Mrs Fernie. When she died the Estate was broken up and sold off in various parts and my grandfather Mr Arthur John Smith, bought the public house together with another house at Tugby in which some of the Smith family still live.

My grandfather took over the White Bull in 1919, having moved from another public house “The Bull’s Head” at Tur Langton, and occupied it until his death in 1930. Previous to this in 1928 he sold it to Mr Heycock of East Norton Hall and then continued to live there, paying rent until 1930. After this I believe the tenant was a Mr Hector probably until the license lapsed. I remember it was a big rambling house with an archway into the yard and a number of stables and outbuildings probably used when it was a well-known coaching inn. I drove past it a few weeks ago when visiting East Norton church where my grandparents are buried, and we thought it had changed very little.
I hope this will be of interest to you; in any case it will perhaps fill in a few gaps in your knowledge of the place.

Yours sincerely

Miss D J W

Kibworth Beauchamp”. 18/10/1972

2)“Dear Sir

I wrote to the “Mercury” upon seeing your letter asking for memories of the White Bull but judging from last night’s paper they have not thought it worth while to include what I wrote.
I knew the White Bull well going back before the last war----in fact in the 30’s. The occupier was George Robert Hector, an ex boxer of some reputation. In middle age he was a man of heavy build with muscular arms. He was glad to get into contact with local lads and put on the gloves to train them in the art of self-defence.

Mrs Hector provided splendid teas in the summer at weekends and many times with a party of ramblers I have sat in the garden at the back. I was secretary of a Leicester club in those days. Cyclists too used to patronise the White Bull at weekends.

I do not know when Mr Hector left, but of course the war brought many changes.
Perhaps you may like to add this information to memories of the White Bull

Yours sincerely

Mr G. A. M

Leicester”. 17/10/1972

3)“The White Bull, East Norton, where over the years many a tale has been told. If ghosts do exist then you should have ample, since this was a famous drinking rendezvous of the Red Devils Paratroopers who dropped at Arnhem. And I suppose that somewhere in the premises those same tales are still being told. Yes it brings back memories.

Yours faithfully

Mr S E B

Leicester”. 12/10/1972

There was a small article published in the “Leicester Mercury” of Monday 16th October 1972, which indicated that the White Bull was visited on Sunday evenings by many Land Army Girls who were at based at Loddington Hostel. The Lady supplying this information said that she would be remembered by her Land Army friends as Gwen.

The back yard and car park at the White Bull in 1934 looking through the archway entrance under the magistrates court towards the main street.