Cretingham: Villagers delighted at The Bell’s reopening

The Cretingham Bell is to reopen, much to the delight of the local community. Left to right, Don You

The Cretingham Bell is to reopen, much to the delight of the local community. Left to right, Don Young (community campaigner), Trevor Coe (owner) and Neil Jackson (owner).

An east Suffolk village is “rejoicing” at the news its local pub is to reopen after a community takeover bid received financial backing.

The Cretingham Bell, which has been a focal point in the village since 1967, will reopen tomorrow after golf club owners bought the pub, much to the delight of regulars, who were saddened by its recent closure.

Neil Jackson, a director at Cretingham Golf Club as well as the Brandeston Queen’s Head, said he was pleased to revive such an integral part of the village community. “When you drive through a village it’s all about the green and the local pub, so with Cretingham’s closing we lost a key part of the village,” he said.

The 16th Century Grade II listed building had fallen into disrepair in recent years but many of its regulars still felt The Bell could be restored to its former heyday when the pub’s reputation was known far and wide.

Donal Young, an active member behind plans to purchase the pub on behalf of the community said there had been “some general rejoicing around the village and an awful lot more rejoicing to come” after the good news spread.

“Most people in the village are extremely pleased,” he said. “And all the waifs and strays who have drifted off to other hostelries when there was no Bell are going to be coming back.”

The retired company director, who lives opposite the pub, said there had been “all kinds of rumours being bandied about” while the sale was finalised, compounded by a “rather tortuous” legal process that delayed matters.

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Mr Jackson, his business partner Trevor Coe and many of the villagers have been busily tidying up the pub in time for tomorrow’s opening, when the Easton Harriers will visit before their New Year’s Day hunt.

The Bell will then operate on a scaled back five nights a week schedule until February 1 when the new landlord, whose identity, Mr Young says, is “deep dark secret” moves in.

It is hoped the new owners will restore the pub’s “rustic charm” and make the most of the “beautiful building” offering a mix of high quality food and a place where the villagers can get together socially.

Mr Young has previously expressed an interest in reviving the musical programme of events hosted at The Bell such as the previously popular jazz evenings.