Historic pub used by Gainsborough and Constable bought by Essex village community

Villagers celebrate the purchase of the Lamarsh Lion pub. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Villagers celebrate the purchase of the Lamarsh Lion pub. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Campaigners in a village on the Suffolk/Essex border are celebrating after completing the purchase of their historic ‘painters’ pub.

Villagers at the Lamarsh Lion. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Villagers at the Lamarsh Lion. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Lamarsh Lion, believed to have been the ‘local’ of famous artists Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, has been bought by a community company which was formed after villagers were dismayed at the building’s closure in May last year.

The owners of the pub, in Lamarsh near Sudbury, then put forward an application to turn it into a house but it was withdrawn after Braintree District Council received 129 objections. The building was then put on the market for sale.

A community share scheme was launched in December last year and villagers from Lamarsh and nearby Alphamstone rallied around the campaign to buy the culturally important pub.

Lamarsh Lion Community Pub Ltd got the keys to the building on Monday after successfully raising the asking price of £495,000.

Lamarsh Lion before it closed in May.

Lamarsh Lion before it closed in May. - Credit: Archant

A pub has been on the site since 1305 and Robert Erith, chairman of the community company, said it is “quite likely” that Gainsborough and Constable used it to sketch ideas for their work.

Mr Erith said he was delighted to have secured the pub for future generations.

“We are very excited,” he said.

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“It has taken some time but the community rallied around, which meant we were able to achieve the asking price.

“It was a high price but we have managed to secure the pub for the community forever. More than 300 people bought shares and we hope there will be more in the future.

“We received some great support from the Plunkett Foundation, who specialise in community co-operatives.

“There is quite a bit of work to do in terms of refurbishment and restoration, but we want to make it a really good country pub with excellent food.

“It will also be used for community purposes such as coffee mornings and afternoon teas, and we are looking to do some accommodation.”

He added he was hopeful the pub would be open for business by the early autumn.

“A questionnaire has been sent out to shareholders regarding what they want their pub to be and asking if they would be interested in either volunteering at the pub or a paid position,” Mr Erith continued.

“The response has already been very helpful and encouraging. There is lots to do but we hope to open by early autumn.”

For more information on the shareholder scheme, click here.

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