Historic village pub returns to help community through coronavirus
- Credit: Archant
A popular village pub which has been closed for months has been brought back to life to help its villagers through the coronavirus.
The Oyster Inn in Butley closed suddenly in May 2019 and remained shut until the start of this year.
New owner Jane Palmer had been working hard to get the pub ready for re-opening when the coronavirus hit.
“I knew Judi Newman (the pub’s previous owner) ,” said Ms Palmer.
“I said to Judi ‘if you ever need someone to work a shift I am up for it’. I was a publican previously.”
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Time passed and Ms Palmer heard that the business was now vacant.
“In November I heard it was up for sale and I rang Judi,” said Ms Palmer.
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“We have a printing business on Bentwaters and we have been driving in from Essex, we decided we needed to be a bit closer.”
So, Ms Palmer made the decision to take over the pub, putting herself at the heart of a community she knew relatively little about.
“I started camping here in the building a few weeks ago, just going through the motions,” said Ms Palmer.
“There was a lot to do.”
Despite the amount of work Ms Palmer said it soon became clear what a labour of love the pub had been for its previous owners.
“The love they have put into this building, we can feel it,” said Ms Palmer.
While waiting for the paperwork to go through on various items the coronavirus hit the county.
“This is a very interesting situation,” said Ms Palmer.
“We have crossed paths with people we never would have, and they get to see us as people not just the people who run the pub.
“I think that makes a difference in the long term. Everyone will remember what happens now for time immemorial.”
The virus forced plans to change at the pub.
“We were not going to do anything with the shop, there was stock in there, but they had run it down,” said Ms Palmer.
“There was lots of biscuits and artisan Easter eggs. We could not gauge what was needed.”
Quickly though they began to stock the shop back up with items villagers wanted and the building is now managed by Ms Palmer’s niece Maisie who came from Winchester university to help.
The pub is also starting to do takeaway services, delivered by her sons Blaize, Harry and Charlie, for residents and is working with the Teapot Project in Woodbridge to offer school dinners all the way up to Ipswich.
Ms Palmer says the village have received the new team well.
“I think they were a bit shocked, I am a bit of a whirlwind,” said Ms Palmer.
“They have just been very welcoming.”