Historic pub used by Gainsborough and Constable purchased by the village community of Essex


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

Villagers at the Lion of Lamarsh. Photo: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Lamarsh Lion, said to have been the “home” of famous artists Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, was purchased by a community business that was formed after villagers were appalled by the building’s closure in May last year .

The owners of the pub in Lamarsh near Sudbury then applied to make it a home, but it was withdrawn after Braintree District Council received 129 objections. The building was then put on the market for sale.

A community sharing program was launched in December last year and villagers from nearby Lamarsh and Alphamstone rallied to 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 by £ 495,000.

Lamarsh Lion before it closes in May.

Lamarsh Lion before it closes in May.
– Credit: Archant

A pub has been on the site since 1305 and Robert Erith, president of the community business, said it was “very likely” that Gainsborough and Constable used it to sketch out ideas for their work.

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

“We are very excited,” he said.

“It took a while, but the community rallied together, which allowed us to meet the asking price.

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

“We have received excellent support from the Plunkett Foundation, which specializes in community co-ops.

“There is quite a bit of work to be done in terms of renovation and restoration, but we want to make this a really good country pub with great food.

“It will also be used for community purposes such as morning coffee and afternoon tea, and we are looking to make housing.”

He added that he hoped the pub would be open in early fall.

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

“The response has already been very helpful and encouraging. There is a lot to do but we hope to open in early fall.

For more information on the shareholding plan, click here.

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