When news happens, text ROMS and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Villagers rally round to revive their local
10:10am Tuesday 27th March 2012 in News
AN historic pub is to reopen after its regulars rallied round to revive it.
The John O’Gaunt, in Horsebridge, near King’s Somborne, closed on New Year’s Eve last year and its owners wanted to turn it into flats.
But following a campaign to keep it as a pub, a planning permission application was dropped.
Then Toni Simmonds, from nearby Houghton, stepped in on a mission to restore her beloved boozer that was once so popular with locals and walkers.
Joining her was a volunteer army of helpers, who have been busy repainting the building, gardening, cleaning the benches and redecorating ready for the Easter Saturday reopening.
Toni, who has sold her house to pay for the pub’s renovation, said: “The amount of support I have received has just been overwhelming, with people dropping in to see what they can do.
“They all wanted the pub back up and running, because they were very sad to lose it. It was so much part of the community.”
Toni hopes to restore the pub as a local, but also re-establish it as a watering hole and eatery for walkers on the Test Way and the Clarendon Way, as well as for passing tourists.
The Easter opening will be followed by a “Grand Opening” on Friday, April 13, from 7pm onwards, with a free glass of wine and a buffet.
Toni said: “If people vote with their feet like they say they are, we will be expecting at least 200 people.”
King's Somborne parish councillor, Dawn Harrison, who is also involved in the campaign to reopen the pub, said: “It has been so missed. People love the pub because it is individual and has old-fashioned traditional feel to it. It is almost like walking into someone else’s house.”
The pub has been a part of the Horsebridge community since the 1860s. Originally named “The Railway Inn”, it was later changed to the John O’Gaunt to reflect the local history which is tied up with this famous Duke of Lancaster, whose descendants formed the Royal houses of Lancaster, Plantagenet and Tudor.