The Abingdon Arms in Beckley will always have a special place in my heart, being the venue where we held our wedding reception countless years ago, the views over Otmoor stretching away over the horizon, the peace and tranquility mesmeric, the steaks cooked to order, accompanied by a New Orleans brass band.

The beautiful 17-century pub is renowned and therefore has been frequented by some literary greats. Evelyn Waugh famously drowned his sorrows at the pub on hearing that he’d got a third in his Oxford finals and the view from the pub across the chequered fields inspired Lewis Carroll’s giant chessboard in Alice through the Looking Glass.

Back in 2006, it was one of the first gastro pubs, and as such did a roaring trade. Michelle and Neil, the wonderful landlord and landlady were the perfect hosts and the food matched. Sizzling skittles of South American fare, vied with wonderful steaks, salads, exotic stews and filo pastry tarts. Beloved by locals, nature lovers and visitors alike, the outdoor decking area and it's idyllic vista was another major draw. As was the lunch menu.

But when the rent was increased by the brewery, Neil and Michelle were forced to leave and new tenants came and left with the regularity of UKIPs leaders, failing to recapture the golden era of its former years, and as such it slowly became forlorn and unkempt.

Until now. Because having had enough of tepid landlords and an ever dwindling clientele, Beckley villagers decided to take action and seize the day, so when The Abingdon Arms came up for sale, they rallied round and bought it themselves from Braeskpear in February.

270 people now co-own the pub with investors from all over the UK from Cornwall to Scotland – and even Australia and the USA – but the large majority were from the five local villages – Beckley, Horton-cum-Studley, Elsfield, Noke and Stanton St John.

An army of volunteers went in and cleaned, cleared the garden and did some basic decorating and DIY to get the pub ready for business while they found the perfect landlords.

The pub has run by brother and sister Aimee and Tom Bronock since May, who have since refurbed and restyled the business and its menu, so we popped down for dinner to find out how they are getting on.

It's a much more serene and simple set up, a tad too quiet if anything, lacking that addictive hustle and bustle of yesteryear, but it was busy none-the-less. The menu followed suit - soup, fishcakes, charcuterie, pigeon or a tomato plate - countrified, seasonal and devoid of frills. The soup though was thick, filling and beautifully flavoured - the spiced tomato accentuated by chickpeas, a basil coulis and some wonderful home-made bread (£6.50), a meal in itself. The black treacle cured salmon with fennel, radish and pomegranate (£7.50) was much more delicate and subtle.

Mains wise, the famous fish and chips £13 or the Shetland salt cod fritter with picked and pureed onions and seashore vegetables (£17) beckoned, but we held off because the 35 day aged ribeye steak with roast tomatoes, mushrooms, hand cut chips and red wine sauce (£24) already had our name on it. And it was a good choice, a near perfect steak, a beautiful cut of meat, skilfully cooked, accompanied by a whole roast tomato balanced on a juicy mushroom, the jus served in a little jug on the side. Understated but memorable. The fishcake of smoked haddock on a bed of spinach and a poached duck egg was another success, served like a giant arancini ball; golden and crispy on the outside, soft and succulent on this inside, the wet yolk sliding through against the slippery spinach.

Full to the brim, we could only toy with the idea of pudding, because however delectable the dark chocolate fondant with salted ice cream sounded, we didn't have the room. The treacle tart with maple and pecan ice cream swung the balance (£6), and was worth the discomfort. Pretty as a picture on it's blue and white enamel plate, the rich dense topping and the soft pastry, accentuated by the home-made sweet and nutty ice cream.

It was a fitting finale to a wonderful meal and a glimpse into the future perhaps of how our ailing pubs can be brought kicking and screaming back into the 21st century, with a little love from the locals.

Abingdon Arms

High St, Beckley, Oxford OX3 9UU

01865 655667