Cheers! MP toasts reopening of village pub after 4 year closure


An Oxfordshire village is celebrating the reopening of its only pub after a four-year closure. Ed Vaizey, MP for Didcot and Wantage, visited The Extraordinary Hare – formerly The Hare – at West Hendred to toast the pub’s revival following a £500,000 refurbishment by the building’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, and new licensees Kate Hayden and Paul Warriner. Ten new jobs have also been created as a result of the investment.

Says Kate: “There’s no shop in West Hendred and the pub has a really prominent position so it's a focal point of the community. It was therefore incredibly important to us to get the refurbishment right and ensure the pub was perfect for residents and in keeping with the village. We’ve had an amazing amount of support and interest from local people who’ve been desperate for the pub to re-open, and it was exciting to light the fires and open the doors for the first time in four years. We’ve been overwhelmed by all the positive feedback we’ve had to The Extraordinary Hare’s new look.”

The project has completely restored the outside of the 200-year old clapboard building. The pub now boasts a beautiful garden with a large area for alfresco eating and drinking. The outside games room has been renovated, and Kate and Paul are looking to bring back Aunt Sally as well as revive the tradition of hosting West Hendred’s tug of war team.

The inside of The Extraordinary Hare is a blend of the old and the new and retains features such as snugs, fireplaces and the large public bar. The pub’s original roof rafters - which had to be removed during roof repairs – have been used throughout and incorporated into a new fireplace and extension, whilst its old furniture has been upcycled and included alongside new pieces. Pictures of West Hendred in bygone days adorn the walls, and a local historian has named the rooms to reflect the area’s past. The new dining area is named ‘the Moot room’ after the ‘moot point’ or halfway mark between East and West Hendred, where, it’s believed, representatives of the villages used to meet to discuss local issues.

The local theme extends throughout The Extraordinary Hare. Food is locally sourced and freshly prepared and ales from local breweries are served. Kate and Paul also plan to involve the pub fully in West Hendred’s life and activities.

Comments MP Ed Vaizey: “A good pub helps keep a village’s community spirit alive and provides a vital hub where residents can come together. I’m delighted to see The Extraordinary Hare open again and so focused on meeting the needs of local people. The investment has definitely paid off – The Extraordinary Hare looks stunning.”

Says Star Pubs & Bars operations director, Neil Convery: “It’s great to see such a beautiful old pub brought back to life. Kate and Paul have put their all into The Extraordinary Hare. They and Mechelle really care about doing a fantastic job for West Hendred and I’ve every confidence they will. We’re firm believers in the valuable role the great British local plays in society and will continue investing in pubs like The Extraordinary Hare across the South West.”