THE new owner of a village pub has pledged to “return” it to the community.

Jon Coward, who recently acquired The White Horse Inn in Bradford-on-Tone with his business partner and wife Millie, said the community had been “taken for granted” for too long.

The pub is planned to reopen on Wednesday, March 20, and be run by live-in landlord Pete Saxby and Shindi Bedford. 

Millie Coward said the community in Branford-on-Tone will be the focus of the couple’s efforts: “We’re going to be concentrating on the village, and looking after this community.

“We already do it very well at the Bear, and the Martlet and the Royal Oak, and we’ll bring the same ethos here, looking after our customers. What this should be is a village pub, for the village.”

Jon also promised a “fantastic” Sunday lunch, commenting: “The food will be brilliant. It’ll be the head chef’s take on British pub food. Everything will be made here, sourced locally, all fresh. A fantastic Sunday lunch. We’ll have all the pub classics, and the specials board will change often. And it’ll be affordable. Great food at the right price.”

He added that the pub could see the return of its skittle alley and the creation of an inter-pub league: “We’re really really keen to bring back the skittles here, and then reopen the alley at the Bear, so we’ll have our own inter-pub league and hopefully join the Wellington league. Team games like darts, skittles, petanque and pool were the first thing to go with Covid. It’s very exciting to be bringing them back.”

The pub is said to be famous for its garden, which is home to a resident peacock, Percy. “In the summer this is a wonderful place to sit and have a drink. And Percy adds to the charm.”

Millie adds: “When you take on a pub it’s a privilege - it’s yours, at least financially, but it’s actually ‘owned’ by the people who live round about.

“We need to get to know people here, ask them what they want. This place is going to be the heart of this community – that’s what’s been missing.”  

News the village’s only pub is set to reopen was broken earlier this month when a notice, signed off by Jon and Millie, appeared in the pub’s window before being shared on social media.

The note added: “Once the kitchen team is in place we will be serving food from noon until 2.30pm and dinner from 5pm until 9.15pm, along with an amazing Sunday lunch selection.

“We will be serving Exmoor Teas and Brazier coffee and of course local real ale alongside our bar offering of larger and cider.

“Our wine selection has been thoughtfully composed by Paddy Magil of Vine Wines in Taunton, someone who you’ll be seeing a lot of.

“We’re all very excited to be given the opportunity to get the White Horse back to its former glory and look forward to meeting you all soon.”