A much-loved village pub is now in local community ownership following a hard-fought battle backed by a Hollywood star to save it from potential development.

The campaign to save The White Horse in Stonesfield reached as far as the pages of the New York Times, and over £450,000 was raised by locals, worldwide donors and investors keen to see the group succeed.

Steve Callaghan of the Stonesfield Community Pub Ltd said: “We cannot thank everyone enough for making this milestone possible.

Cotswold Journal: The White Horse in Stonesfield

"The community was determined not to lose the last pub in the village, and now we’re looking forward to joining the many other successful community-owned pubs around the country that benefit their local areas.

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"Like many other villages in the area, Stonesfield is a thriving community and we’re confident that we can establish The White Horse as more than ‘just a pub’ and transform it into a social amenity that can serve the community as a whole.”

The sale of the White Horse was finally completed on September 8 after extensive negotiation.

Funds for the purchase were raised through a share offer, donations, local fundraising and grant funding.

Cotswold Journal:

Mr Callaghan added: “The hard work starts here. There is a great deal of work to be done to repair and refurbish the building before the doors can fully reopen, and we’re already welcoming further investment and offers of voluntary and practical support.

“We’re excited at the prospect of raising a glass in our village pub to thank the many people locally and around the world who made this purchase possible. 

"We look forward to The White Horse playing a key part in strengthening the vibrancy and sustainability of our community for many years to come.”

The initial shares scheme to buy the West Oxfordshire watering hole was backed by actor Rupert Friend, star of Homeland, Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal, and Disney + series Obi-Wan Kenobi, who grew up in the village.

However, the shares project was ultimately pipped by Jonathan Bowers, who completed a purchase of the pub in January 2021.

He told this newspaper that he hoped the pub would reopen ‘within a couple of months’ after searching for tenants.

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But the pub remained closed and in August 2022 after an incredible fundraising effort the village was able to table a fresh bid of £385,000 to Mr Bowers.

Andy Graham, county councillor for the Woodstock division, said: "I am delighted for the community. They have really worked hard to get this over the line.

"This is a model of how things can really get done - the community leads and politicians facilitate.

"I will be behind them, supporting them until the reopening. Three cheers for them I say."

The group are looking at the potential for limited opening of the pub at weekends from the end of September, up until Christmas.