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Celebrations after Duke of Marlborough pub in Somersham gets new look

Duke of Marlborough pub celebrates the unveiling of their new sign. Left to right, Sarah Caston, Richard Podd, Kevin Long and James Batchelor-Wylam. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Duke of Marlborough pub celebrates the unveiling of their new sign. Left to right, Sarah Caston, Richard Podd, Kevin Long and James Batchelor-Wylam. Picture: GREGG BROWN

An historic Suffolk pub which was saved from closure after the community took it over has unveiled its new look.

The Duke of Marlborough in Somersham closed on Christmas Eve 2014 but a campaign to save the 15th Century pub proved victorious and prevented it from being sold as private property.

Local doctor Sarah Caston called a village meeting, formed a committee and started the campaign to Save the Duke.

The pub’s new look was unveiled last week.

Committee member and campaigner Frances Brace said: “It was really important to keep the name, and reflect the history - at the same time as indicating the very special nature of the location.

“Our branding raises its hat to the local barley growers and hop propagators, not least because the farming community have played a key role in the campaign to save the Duke.

“It also features two wyverns (two-legged dragons with wings) that appeared in the 1st Duke of Marlborough’s coat of arms back in the 17th Century. The imagery looks fresh and modern – and tells a story about the pub and its place in the community.”

It took the community nearly two-and-a-half years to campaign, raise money and buy the Duke of Marlborough.

Thanks to the support of 250 investors, the Plunkett Foundation and Co-op Finance, the committee succeeded in creating the 51st co-operatively-owned pub in Britain and the second in Suffolk.

The pub, which serves food as well as drinks, opened earlier in the year, and since September there have been professionals at the helm.

It now has Kevin Long in place as manager and Richard Podd as the head chef and has become a vibrant hub of the community.

Lucy Batchelor-Wylam, another committee member and campaigner, created the graphics which sit outside the pub along with designer Caz Jones.

Mrs Batchelor-Wylam said: “The pub sits in the valley bottom with Church Farm’s barley fields to the south and hop fields to the north at Valley Farm.

“A hop takes central position in the logos and the growling wyverns sport barley ears on their tails.”

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