Members of a steering group driving efforts to take community ownership of a West Devon village pub are jumping for joy following the freehold owner having accepted their offer to purchase the property.

The Drewsteignton Community Society Limited, comprised of local residents in Drewsteignton, recently rallied together to coordinate efforts to procure ownership of the village’s historic Drewe Arms following the pub’s indefinite closure last year and subsequent marketing for sale by the Stonegate Group. With the pub’s freehold up grabs for the first time in living memory, the steering group has been striving to take ownership and transform the property into a community asset.

Imogen Clements, a member of the steering group, said: “We are thrilled to announce that our offer to buy The Drewe Arms has been accepted by Stonegate and so, it’s all systems go! The crowdfunder share offer will go live on September 29. Get this date in your diary because there will be a big pop-up party to launch the crowdfund on the same night. This will be our next pop-up pub, to be held again (hopefully) in the square overlooked by our beloved pub, before we get the doors back open and can welcome everyone back in.”

In their bid to take purchase the freehold, the group has set up a crowdfunding page, so far having secured over £200,000 in pledges from interested donors, and has applied for a range of other grants open to community enterprises.

In their efforts to garner further support and spread the word of their plan, members have hosted pop up pub nights outside the pub in the village square which have fared to notable popularity, the most recent of which on Friday, August 18 saw filming for a behind the scenes documentary crowdfunding film centering on the village’s pop up pubs. Following the event, the team took to their social media pages to thank everyone who agreed to be interviewed by the camera crew.

Imogen said: “It was great to hear how passionate people are about reinstating our great pub back as the heart of the village. Everyone was really enthusiastic about this becoming a pub shaped by and for the community.”

The group’s celebrations however are twofold, as they have also announced that the Architectural Heritage Fund has awarded them a grant to be used to plan improvement works on the property.

The Architectural Heritage Fund has confirmed that the grant, a Project Viability Grant, will be put towards the cost of necessary surveys and architectural work to enable the organisation to understand and plan the necessary improvements to the building which should in turn allow it to return as an operational pub once more. It has also confirmed that this is also one of the first grants to be awarded through its Historic Assets into Community Ownership programme in England.

In addition to reopening as a pub, the group plans that the space will also be used to host activities such as exercise classes, film and sporting event screenings, music and arts events, open-mic nights, wedding receptions and other local celebrations.

The pub is a Grade II* listed, 17th-century building. By 1890, it had become a public house known as the New Inn. Its name was later changed to the Drewe Arms by Julius Drewe of the nearby Castle Drogo and since made history in record books under Mabel Mudge, the UK’s longest-serving landlady, who managed The Drewe from 1919-1994.