The Packhorse Inn – South Stoke – Somerset

A QUINTESSENTIAL 15th century village pub reopened today after locals raised over £1million and used a little-known law to buy it back from developers. And the first pint was poured by an 87-year-old who was born there when it was run by his family. The Grade II-listed tavern Packhorse Inn in South Stoke, Somerset, closed its doors six years ago after it was bought by property developers who planned to turn it into flats. This sparked anger among locals who back-tracked the sale by using the 2011 Localism Act to help turn the pub into a community asset. They raised £1,025,000 through 470 investors – paying as little as £50 each – and bought it themselves. It was finally reopened today by Brian Perkins, 87, who was born in the pub when it was owned by his family – and also had his wedding reception there with wife Edith, 88. The stunning village pub is surrounded by a mix of Georgian homes and thatched cottages, and attracts walkers rambling in the surrounding valleys. According to the carved stone above the door, the building was erected in 1674 – but historians say the pub dates back to 1498. The new owner of the Packhorse announced their intention to sell so the village placed a bid for the building – but the offer was turned down. However, under the Localism Act, the owner has to sell the property within a year, no matter who comes forward first, enabling a village society to buy it back. Volunteers spent an estimated 1,000 hours sorting out the pub’s garden and 25 skips of rubbish were removed from inside the pub – and 15 tons of earth shifted by hand. It is on the site of a guesthouse used by monks and during renovation work, builders found a priest hole inside the home facade which was used to hide Catholic priests in the 16th century at a time when they were being persecuted.