Pub, Brewery and Festival News

A rolling round-up of news from around Oxfordshire

Change of manager at Lamb & Flag

New landlord at the Lamb & Flag is David Molina, originally from Spain, who has lived and worked in UK for 11 years, writes Steve Thompson. He has extensive food and beverage experience, including the Anchor in Jericho, the Crown in Woodstock, the Duke of Cambridge in Little Clarendon Street and the Bull in Charlbury.

Popular landlords Dylan and Alice Dudbridge-Hay had run the pub since it re-opened in October 2022 on behalf of the Community-Owned group known as the Inklings, who lease it from St John’s College. It quickly re-established its reputation as a major real ale venue, serving up to eight local real ales from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire or Berkshire plus a real cider. Apparently Dylan and Alice are bound for a new opportunity in Cornwall, but the new landlord is not planning any major changes, except perhaps to encourage more custom in the mornings.

David is also involved in freelance event management with the company Ross & Ross. Other key staff remain in place including bar manager Ollie.

David Molina is the new manager of the Lamb & Flag. Image: Steve Thompson

White Horse, Stonesfield

More than four years of closure and frustration came to an end on June 14 with the re-opening of the White Horse as Oxfordshire’s latest Community-Owned pub. Villagers raised more than £450,000 to save the White Horse in Stonesfield, near Woodstock, and were recognised by CAMRA nationally as runner-up in its prestigious Pub Saving Award 2023. 

The pub’s policy is to serve local real ales and good value food, with Little Ox, Chadlington, Loddon, Vale and North Cotswold among the breweries likely to feature regularly. It is closed on Mondays and opens from 1130am-11pm most days (from 5pm Tuesdays, until 8pm on Sundays).

“The White Horse pub stands as more than just a local watering hole—it’s a beacon of community spirit,” says its website. “Owned by the community, it symbolizes collective pride and resilience. Its charming Cotswold stone façade beckons travellers and villagers alike to step into a warm embrace of tradition. The White Horse isn’t just a pub; it’s the heart of Stonesfield.”

Dating back to the 19th century, the White Horse shut its doors in March 2020 due to the pandemic, with the owner putting the pub on the market. As it was the last remaining pub in the village, Stonesfield Community Pub Ltd was formed to keep it safe from developers intent on turning it into housing. The fundraising crusade included cake and t-shirt sales, virtual pub quizzes and Saturday morning car washing.  

The campaign was a triumph, but despite this the community still had to contend with owners and prospective buyers intent on property development, which meant the pub remained closed. In September 2023, it was announced that the offer of £455,000 had been accepted and the pub was now property of the village. 

Staff at the pub include new tenants Craig Tipper and Barbara who both have long experience of the hospitality industry.

  • Another community buy-out bid, for the Fox Inn, Middle Barton, has failed and it remains closed. A buy-out bid for the Red Lion in Yarnton also failed to riase enough money, but Oak Taverns acquired it and it is now running successfully.

Bat and Ball, Cuddesdon

Villagers here had been considering a community buy-out bid for the only pub still open, after Admiral Taverns put it up for sale. But instead they have now swung their support behind a local pub owner who had been negotiating to buy the Bat and Ball.

Nicko King, one of those preparing to bid, wrote on Facebook: “Admiral are very close to selling the pub to Ben Moss, the owner of the Lamb in Little Milton. They have instructed their solicitors to proceed; already agreeing heads of Terms, exchange and completion dates. All of this has now started to cost them money, indicating their commitment to selling the pub. Ben was at the Parish Council meeting. He confirmed that he had also spent a considerable sum instructing his solicitors and setting up a company to buy the pub.”

The council had been considering placing an Asset of Community Value order on the pub, giving villagers six months to raise the funds to buy it, but this won’t now be needed.

The Bat and Ball will now be run by owner of the Lamb in Little Milton

“At the meeting on Sunday, Ben had already talked about his long-held ambition to buy the Bat and Ball. He plans to run it as just the sort of family, community pub that we all long for,” continued Nicko. “The risk that we have identified of Admiral selling the pub for housing is still there (whether or not we trigger the moratorium). But the likelihood of it happening is now much reduced.

“Equally, the likelihood that we could successfully challenge any attempt to change the use of the pub has significantly increased. SODC will only permit change of use to housing if it can be shown that it is not commercially viable. The last tenant, Martin Driscoll, and now Ben can confirm that the Bat and Ball is viable.

“There is no doubt that the mere threat of triggering the moratorium has concentrated Admiral’s mind. They have moved much faster than they might otherwise have done. So once again thank you very much indeed for your support. And a very big thank you to Ben Moss for his perseverance and commitment to our village.”

The Seven Stars beer festival was still held during Covid outside trading restrictions, when former landlord Matt Ford (centre) was pictured with CAMRA’s Tony Goulding (left) and Dave Richardson

Seven Stars, Marsh Baldon

The annual beer festival will be held at this village pub near Nuneham Courtenay from July 12-14, with a wide range of real ale and cider, and live music from 5pm. The festival will open at 3pm on the Friday and midday over the weekend, with BBQ food based on English and Indian cuisine. The management team of Namit Julka and Sunit Bansode, formerly at the Tree Hotel in Iffley, took over the pub last year, but it continues to be Community-Owned. Two real ales are normally offered.

Black Horse, Gozzards Ford

This long-closed pub in a small village near Abingdon re-opened on June 13 as an independent operation, serving three Loose Cannon real ales and an extensive grill-based menu. Opening hours are daily from 11am-11pm.