There was good news this week for locals who are fighting to save their village pub.
The Swan at Hoxne has been closed for over two months and the parish council has just heard that it has been granted permission to have the pub and restaurant, in the centre of the village, registered as a community asset.
The designation means that local residents would have a right to bid if the owner made any attempt to sell the Grade II-listed 15th Century timbered building.
The Swan is one of the most historic and best-known public houses in north Suffolk and villagers are desperate to see it reopened as soon as possible. Owners can appeal the decision.
The pub is owned by the Enterprise Inns pub company, and in a statement this week a spokesperson said: “Unfortunately the Swan has closed following the current publican’s decision to cease trading. We would like to reassure the local residents of Hoxne that we are committed to the future of their village pub and are working with a third party who is interested in taking the Swan on with the aim of having it back open and trading as soon as possible.”
The closure of the pub has resulted in a reduction in the number of visitors to the village. The reduced footfall has had the knock-on effect of a drop in business for Hoxne Stores and Post Office, situated opposite the Swan.
Owner Peter Craig said: “Over Easter and the bank holidays the footfall has decreased. Normally the pub would be full and people would walk over here to buy ice creams, drinks and cigarettes, but the place was just dead.”
He said people came to the Swan from all over East Anglia, often for walks and to use the pub for lunch-stops. Many turned up over the bank holiday and were disappointed to find it closed.
Parish council chairman Edward O’Connor told the Diss Express: “I am delighted with the news that Enterprise Inns are doing something positive towards the re-opening of the pub.”
But he added that he hoped Enterprise would now make good on that promise, and the parish council was due to discuss the matter at their meeting as we went to press last night.
Mr O’Connor added: “This has been a great concern to the whole village. It is a wonderful old building and it has been a fine pub with a good reputation and it has been the heartbeat of the village.
“I have been asked many times ‘what is happening to the pub?”
He said that when he and his wife moved to Hoxne ten years ago, they had been looking for a village with a pub, shop and church and that is why they chose this particular village.
One Hoxne resident, Stuart Jarrold, commented: “The Swan has been the social hub of the community for such a long time. Everyone is keen to see it reopened again with new people in charge who can re-establish a thriving business.”
The Swan is now the only pub in the village and was built in 1480 for the Bishop of Norwich as a lodge. It has ornate ceiling beams, a ten-foot wide inglenook fireplace and ancient wide planked oak floors. It has been an inn for centuries.