Buy a share in Gainsborough and Constable’s local pub for just £50

Lamarsh Lion

Lamarsh Lion - Credit: Archant

For just £50, pub-goers with a passion for the past could own a share in a historic hostelry which it is believed was once the ‘local’ of world famous artists Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable.

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There has been a pub in Lamarsh on the Suffolk/Essex border for more than 700 years so local people were shocked and disappointed when the Lamarsh Lion closed in May this year and the owners applied for permission to turn it into a house. The application was withdrawn after Braintree District Council received 129 objections, and the pub has now been put on the market for just under £500,000.

Such was the strength of feeling in the villages of Lamarsh and nearby Alphamstone that a group of 10 locals formed a committee, set up a community benefit society and launched a campaign to buy the culturally important building and save it for future generations.

According to Robert Erith, chairman of Lamarsh Lion Community Pub Ltd, there has been a pub on that site since 1305.

He said: “It’s in its 700th year of existence so it has a very long history. It’s in an idyllic setting and a lot of people have used this pub over the years, including Gainsborough and Constable who very likely sketched ideas for some of their work there.”

Local historian Barry Wall said the view from the pub looks across to the Suffolk side of the River Stour where Gainsobrough painted his work, Riverside View with Distant Village, which hangs in the Scottish National Gallery.

Mr Erith said it was a “great shock” when the pub closed and the owners applied for change of use.

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“It’s not just a place for drinking – the village is dead without something like this where people can go to meet, socialise and make friends,” he added.

The community company needs people to pledge money for shares to enable it to make an offer on the pub.

Mr Erith continued: “The combined population of Lamarsh and Alphamstone is only around 400 but the pledges so far total £268,000, which is very encouraging.

“The great thing is that the community really wants it to happen and there is a huge amount of enthusiasm for the idea.

“Shares are a minimum of £50 for one and up to a maximum of 2,000 shares per person. Each shareholder has one vote regardless of how many shares they own.

“For £50, a share in the pub with such a wonderful history would make a great Christmas present.”

Committee member Haydn Simpson said they wanted to buy the pub for the benefit of villagers and turn it into a community-run asset.

He added: “We have had public meetings and registered with the Plunkett Foundation, which supports social enterprises in rural communities.

“This has always been a very successful pub and by buying it we are aiming to put the heart back into the village.”

Shares are open to everyone. For a prospectus and pledge form, visit www.lamarshlion.co.uk

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