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Villagers delight as ‘Painters Pub’ once used by Constable and Gainsborough reopens

PUBLISHED: 11:17 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:17 14 June 2018

Robert Erith outside the Lamarsh Lion pub, which has now reopened Picture: LAMARSH LION COMMUNITY PUB LTD

Robert Erith outside the Lamarsh Lion pub, which has now reopened Picture: LAMARSH LION COMMUNITY PUB LTD

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A historic pub on the Essex/Suffolk border which is believed to have once been the ‘local’ of world famous artists John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough has reopened after two years of closure.

The Lamarsh Lion pub, which has been refurbished Picture: LAMARSH LION COMMUNITY PUB LTDThe Lamarsh Lion pub, which has been refurbished Picture: LAMARSH LION COMMUNITY PUB LTD

The Lamarsh Lion – a pub for more than 700 years – has opened its doors once again after villagers rallied around a community share scheme and bought the building last year.

Villagers in Lamarsh and neighbouring Alphamstone, near Sudbury, were dismayed at the pub’s closure in May 2016 and The Lamarsh Lion Community Pub Ltd was formed to save the culturally important building.

Shares were offered at £50 each with more than 400 people investing and the money raised, along with a grant and loan from The Plunkett Foundation, enabled the purchase in July 2017.

Inside the Lamarsh Lion Picture: LAMARSH LION COMMUNITY PUB LTDInside the Lamarsh Lion Picture: LAMARSH LION COMMUNITY PUB LTD

Constable and Gainsborough both painted in Lamarsh and it is thought to be highly likely that they both used the Lion, which is nicknamed the ‘Painters Pub’.

Robert Erith, chairman of the company, said: “Getting this historic pub open again is a fantastic achievement from a dedicated band of supporters and a wider group of shareholders and well-wishers.

“It will be a vital asset for the whole community and we hope it will help make Lamarsh a great place to live for the long term.

Villagers celebrate getting the keys for the Lamarsh Lion back in July 2017  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVillagers celebrate getting the keys for the Lamarsh Lion back in July 2017 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We have shown what can be achieved if people really believe such a project is worthwhile.”

The pub needed substantial repairs before reopening and grants were obtained from Essex Community Foundation Rural Fund, Essex County Council Community Initiatives Fund and GCG Environment Trust for improvements.

The money enabled a refitted kitchen and cellar, re-wiring, plumbing, heating, a new wooden floor, windows and other significant repairs, inside and out.

Villagers celebrate getting the keys for the Lamarsh Lion back in July 2017 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVillagers celebrate getting the keys for the Lamarsh Lion back in July 2017 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The committee has appointed Michael (Mick) Fallon and his team to run the pub and it will be open seven days a week from 10.30am for coffee and midday for drinks and meals.

Ruth Alison, honorary treasurer, said: “The British pub is unique and the Lamarsh Lion has been the heart of the village for generations. I became part of the team as I felt very strongly that the loss of the pub meant loss of friends.

“My vision was to provide a community centre for all not just a beer drinking establishment and I think we have gone a long way to achieve this aim, we have more to do but are certainly on the right path.”

Niki Henderson, committee member, said: “Having been involved in refurbishing the pub, I have been thrilled at how many people from surrounding villages have also been inspired to help and support us.”

On Saturday, June 23, there will be an official lunchtime grand opening at 12.30pm with a barbecue, hog roast and live music.

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