Landlady hits back in village pub row

For centuries it was the gathering place for a pre-hunt sherry and has quenched the thirsts of many a fan of the traditional country pub.But a storm is brewing at a south Norfolk village after the owner of the local inn applied to turn the 600-year-old building into a house.

For centuries it was the gathering place for a pre-hunt sherry and has quenched the thirsts of many a fan of the traditional country pub.

But a storm is brewing at a south Norfolk village after the owner of the local inn applied to turn the 600-year-old building into a house.

Marilyn Forder - landlady of the Fox and Hounds at Great Moulton, near Long Stratton, for the last 22 years - has been trying to sell the property since the turn of the year. But the 63-year-old said she felt “persecuted” after some villagers were left “up in arms” after she submitted a planning application to turn her ailing business into a private residence.

The landlady yesterday called on objectors to put their “money where their mouth is” if they wanted to retain the 15th-century drinking establishment at the heart of the village and said she felt saddened that she had received a number of unsavoury comments from local residents.


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Mrs Forder added that she had even offered to lease the pub in Frith Way to the Great Moulton Action Committee, which was formed to try to save the venue, but had received no response.

The publican said the grade II-listed Fox and Hounds was a thriving community hub when she first arrived. However, over the years there has been a gradual decline in trade, which she blames on the smoking ban, cheap supermarket beer, and home entertainment systems.

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Mrs Forder, who placed the building on the market for £397,500

10 months ago, said that turning the Fox and Hounds into a private dwelling seemed the only way of selling the place and allowing her to retire. She also claimed that objectors were telling people to boycott the pub, which is still open, since the change of use application was submitted in September.

“I am extremely hurt. I have provided a service in the village for the last 22 years and I expect a little gratitude for what I have done here. If they want me to go, the best thing to do is to come and spend money in the pub and help me achieve a sale.

“I love the pub, it is beautiful and I have taken pride in it over the years and it is very sad to see this situation. No one would run a business if it is not viable and it is the local villagers that have destroyed it,” she said.

South Norfolk Council has so far received about 80 comments on its website, the majority of which are against the change of use, which is set to go before a planning committee next month.

Nick Sheldrake, chairman of the Great Moulton Action Committee, said that claims that villagers were being told to stay away from the Fox and Hounds were “absolute rubbish” and the group had received no formal approach from Mrs Forder about taking over its lease. He added that no one in the village wanted to see their pub close and its current guide price was overinflated.

Mr Sheldrake said that Mrs Forder was a “forceful” character and a number of people did not enjoy her style of management.

“We respect Mrs Forder's wish to retire and sympathise with her situation. This is not personal, but we believe there is a future for that pub. If it fails with successive landlords then it is a clear failure, but after 20 years under the same owner it would be foolish not to give it a chance under new management,” he said.

Jo Aldrich, whose uncle owned the Fox and Hounds in the 1970s and his great grandfather in 1901, added that he believed the pub was still viable with a younger person at the helm.

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