A rare and much-loved landmark which spans the A140 could be reinstated this year.

Residents of Stonham Parva, near Stowmarket, were horrified when a hit-and-run accident in 2021 toppled the historic "gibbet" or gantry which belongs to the Magpie Inn.

They have been fundraising since to get the Grade 2 listed structure - which carries a pub sign - back in place.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Magpie sign at Stonham ParvaThe Magpie sign at Stonham Parva (Image: Archant)

But restoring it will be no mean feat. It is estimated the work will cost a hefty £30k to £40k - and could mean the A140 will need to be closed for up to four days depending on the technicalities. 

It is thought to be one of only three such structures in the country and there are different theories about what it was for - but it is known to date back hundreds of years.

One is that it was once a gibbet used for hanging highwaymen - or possibly for hanging magpies as a deterrent for crows. 

A magpie was also kept in a cage by the pub entrance within living memory - and the oldest parts of the pub date back to the 15th century.

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"It's iconic for the village," explained parish council vice chairman Ivan Richardson.

"Everyone who drives along the A140 sees the Magpie sign and it's been there for 200 years - even in its current state. 

"The village has lost its identity to some extent because the village is the Magpie sign.

"People ask: 'Where is the sign?' Even people who don't live in the village who have had communications with the parish council say: 'When are you going to put the sign back up?'"

The parish council is working on getting ownership of the structure - currently the property of owners the Bahar family of Needham Market - transferred so that it can apply for grant aid to help fund the project.

It is hoping the legalities will be sorted out shortly after the family agreed to gift the structure to the parish.

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It's been a unifying cause for the small community, with villagers raising £2,500 to date through fundraising activities - including pub quizzes, sales - and a hugely successful village fete which they plan to repeat this year. 

It was first fete of its kind as far back as any of the older residents can remember, said Mr Richardson.

"It really brought the village together," he added. "Now it's going to be a regular event. This one (this year) is going to be much bigger."

East Anglian Daily Times: From left, John Ridealgh, Alan Ridealgh, Vaida Lapene and Ivan Richardson by the Magpie pub post on the A140 at Stonham Parva. Photo: Charlotte BondFrom left, John Ridealgh, Alan Ridealgh, Vaida Lapene and Ivan Richardson by the Magpie pub post on the A140 at Stonham Parva. Photo: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Father and son John and Alan Ridealgh, who are from the village and run a local brewery called Humber Doucy, have also produced a new beer called Two for Joy and donated 14 kegs of it to the pub in order to raise funds. They are preparing another batch to help raise more.

It is made to a Lithuanian recipe in honour of the pub's landlady, Vaida Lapene, who is originally from the eastern European country.

"Every second customer, they know the sign should be there. Everyone knows the sign," said Ms Lapene, who said the sign had created a real community spirit.

She added: "We have managed to survive through two very difficult years of Covid where many pubs have closed and the Magpie sign. A county landmark will help with our long term survival."

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Mr Richardson said: "We have no village hall and we are trying to use our redundant St Mary's church as a meeting place once a month for coffee and chats sessions.

"The two fund raising quiz nights at the Magpie and the village fete in September generated a much better togetherness and people met that they had not spoken to before.

"There is a lack of personal interaction these days with everybody using their cars and not talking to each other."

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