This is the Earl Of Portsmouth Preservation Society's 'Save The Earl' Community Project, a small local community group passionate about saving our traditional pub in the heart of our village in Chawleigh. We are looking to raise enough money to purchase the pub and run it as a viable, flourishing business geared towards catering for the needs of our local community and visitors coming to this beautiful area.

A brief history of The Earl

The pub has been here since the 17th century, perfectly situated in the rolling hills of Mid Devon. It is a pub with potential for locals and visitors alike. Sadly, the pub has closed and is for sale, possibly for development, and we only have a few months to raise the money to buy it for our community. 

Prior to the “Great Fire of Chawleigh” in 1869 there is little readily available history for this pub which goes back to the 17th century. The village of Chawleigh is shown on the main Exeter to Ilfracombe road map of 1675 by John Ogilby. This road remained the main route until the A377 was built which follows the Tarka railway line opened in the 1850s. At the time of the fire the pub was named The London Inn, this was changed to the Earl of Portsmouth in recognition of the support the 5th Earl of Portsmouth, Isaac Newton Fellowes, who helped to rebuild the pub. In recent times it changed to The Portsmouth Inn and then back to the Earl of Portsmouth.

The Earl of Portsmouth closed in November 2019 and still remains closed a year later.

Our Vision for The Earl

A future vision for the Earl was expressed by the Chawleigh community both in a Questionnaire in July 2020 and in further continuous communications. Overwhelmingly, the people of Chawleigh wished ‘The Earl’ to reopen as a pub serving good food. Many wanted more than that, they wanted a return of the facility which held functions such as birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, wakes as well as just meeting friends for a drink, a meal and being met by a friendly host in a comfortable environment.

Many have missed the pub games, the darts, skittles and pool competitions which were commonplace only a couple of years ago. Many attended live music events, quizzes, wanted BBQs and dreamt of them happening in the future. Younger people wanted family-friendly facilities and wished to see development of the pub garden. A café was sought within the pub serving not only the locals, including small groups, but also visitors such as walkers and the many cyclists who pass by. Others asked for facilities which would support older members of their families and community as well as improved accessibility.

Since the owner has been unable to find a new owner or new tenant, the best way to change these dreams into reality is for the community to take ownership and buy the pub via a Community Share Offer  The pub can then focus on the best interests of the community both now and for future generations.

What we need to do now

Estimated Timeline:

Raise share funds of a minimum of £225,000 and finalise loan funding of up to £150,000. We hope to launch the share offer in February 2021, closing at the end of 29th March 2021. There could be an extension if the funds raised are insufficient but close to the target.

If successful, complete the purchase of the Earl of Portsmouth, July 2021.

Renovation works start, July 2021 to be completed by September 2021.

(Management Committee elected and a suitable tenant found)

Opening the Earl of Portsmouth community pub, October 2021.29

Purchasing the Earl of Portsmouth

The current owner has put the pub, including car park and garden up for sale at a price of £250,000. We have had an independent valuation which is considerably less. We will submit a non-binding offer to the agents reflecting our valuation.

We understand that some other offers have been made already but do not know if these are from developers wishing to close the pub and convert to housing. However, two previous planning applications for change of use have been submitted and withdrawn; furthermore, MDDC have already agreed that a Community run model is likely to succeed thereby refuting the current owner’s claim that the business is not viable. In addition, the fact that there is an Asset of Community Value attached to the property may make it difficult for any future owner to change its use.

Should we be unsuccessful in our bid to buy the pub and another party (who intends to run ‘The Earl’ as a pub/restaurant) acquires the freehold we would of course support them to help make the business a success.

At the end of the day all we want is a pub which serves the needs of the community

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