Campaigners are planning to use village stocks in a bid to save their pub.

The Fox Inn in Middle Barton, West Oxfordshire, is a Grade II listed 18th century pub and over the last decade it has often been closed for lengthy periods.

At the end of June, the owner put the Fox on the market for £495,900 and it has been closed ever since.

READ MORE: EastEnders actress backs pub buyout bid

Villagers successfully applied for ACV (Asset of Community Value) status for The Fox in 2021, and they now have until the end of this year to make a bid.

Shares are being sold in the run-up to Christmas.

Richard Brown MBE, who is is leading the bid, said: “In today’s world, pubs need to totally reinvent themselves, both in the way they are run and the way they are used.

Witney Gazette: The Fox Inn"We know that community pubs have more than a 99 per cent success rate. We believe that only our community can ‘Save Our Fox’.”

The stocks in Middle Barton stood in Fox Lane, behind the Fox Inn, until 1868, and were used to punish people in the community for minor crimes.

A local craftsman has constructed a new set to be used in conjunction with the bid to buy the Fox and reopen it as a community owned pub.

It is planned to have the stocks available for fundraising events and to erect them at the pub when it reopens.

READ MORE: Owner reveals plans for derelict hotel

It’s not known when the stocks were first installed in Middle Barton but according to a 15th century law, The Statute of Labourers Act of 1405, all towns and villages were required to provide a set of stocks for the punishment of petty offences.

The last recorded use of the stocks in England was in 1872.

Witney Gazette: Villagers want to save The Fox Inn
Since then their use as a legal punishment has largely been forgotten even though it is believed never to have been formally repealed in UK law.

Chairman of the local Parish Meeting Steve Ferrelly said: “The parish certainly welcomes the idea of reinstating the village stocks, and the community bid to buy the Fox Inn, although we don’t anticipate using them for their original purpose.”

The Bartons Community Benefit Society is organising the bid to buy the 18th century Grade II listed pub.

The Community Share Offer was launched on November 20 and information is available at where the shares can also be purchased.

Witney Gazette: A plaque about the stocksThe last recorded use of the stocks as punishment in England was on June 11, 1872 in Newbury, Berkshire, when Mark Tuck was fixed in the stocks for four hours for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. 

The Bartons Community Benefit Society Ltd was set up by residents of Middle Barton with the aim of saving The Fox Inn.

It was put on the market and closed by the owners, Stonegate Group, in June this year. 

The shares campaign is being backed by former EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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