The 17th Century White House and last remaining pub in the village has been saved by the community in Bladon. Reputed to be the pub where Winston Churchill “learnt to drink” during his time at Blenheim Palace, this historic pub is set to become the heart of the community once again.
The White House was put on the open market in September 2019 and its status as an Asset of Community Value meant that the community had 6 months to raise the money to put in a bid to buy and manage the future of the pub.
“We were worried that the pub would be sold for developmentand so formed our own war cabinet to save the White House. Weheld many events and it was clear that the community was behind the bid” said Mike Edwards, Pub Committee Member.
After 6 months of relentless campaigning, Bladon Community Benefit Society had over 450 shareholders and had raised more than £330,000 in shares. Although 90% of shareholders come from Bladon and the surrounding villages, press coverage also sent the pub’s cause around the globe and shares were purchased from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, USA and South Africa.
Dominic Hare, Chief Executive Officer, Blenheim commented: “We were very pleased to be able to support this worthy campaign and we’re absolutely delighted with the result. The White House has been one of the hubs of community life in Bladon for a very long time and now, more than ever, it’s crucial for meeting places like this to survive. This is a great example of what’s possible when people come together for a common cause.”
The team successfully applied for Plunkett Foundation’s More Than a Pub grant/loan and put their best offer into Greene Kingjust as lockdown was put into place. A nail-biting wait until May brought Bladon the good news it had been waiting for, the community offer to purchase the White House had been accepted and the community were handed the keys to their pub on 23rd July 2020.
Randolph Churchill, great grandson of Sir Winston Churchill commented: “This is joyous news. It is great for Bladon, Blenheim and Churchill. With communities coming closer together at this challenged time it is thrilling that through your own and the whole community’s endeavour you can maintain the flag flying above the White House.”
More than 100 communities in the UK have purchased their local pubs and every one of them continues to thrive. The White House will offer a whole host of services including a café, shop and meeting place for many groups. The search for a tenant is underway and a plan for essential renovations has been drawn up. If all goes well, the White House will reopen in September 2020.
“It was a real community effort and even the global coronavirus pandemic didn’t stand in our way. These unprecedented times have boosted Bladon’s community spirit even further. We can’t wait to raise a socially distanced glass with our fellow shareholders and supporters!” said Rachel Guest, Bladon Community Pub Committee.
We are still fundraising in order to improve the fabric of the building and bring community services to life. If you wish to contribute to the project, you can make a donation on the website: bladoncommunitypub.org/