VILLAGERS are rallying to buy an historic village pub which inspired novelist Lewis Carroll and transform it into a community hub.

But the group, in Beckley, has just two months left to secure more than £100,000 to meet the 300-year old pub's asking price before a hold on other bids comes to an end.

Secretary of the Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society, which is orchestrating the bid, Mike Hobbs said that The Abingdon Arms pub had "gone down hill" under chain Brakspear and they wanted to save it for the benefit of the community.

He said: “We have seen over the last few years that there have been problems that are reflected in a high turnover of tenants of the pub.

“We want to make it something more than just a pub. We are hoping that it would provide other amenities for the community.

“We are looking at for example because Beckley has no shop we are looking at opening instead a small shop.

“We would like to introduce socially inclusive functions for example a coffee club or social club for older people and for people who are not mobile.

“Parents of pupils at the primary school have said they are very keen there will be some kind of café function.

“We want it to be something for everyone.”

The group approached the council in May with a community bid under the Localism Act which gives them a six month hold on the pub accepting any other bids.

Brakspear is under no obligation to accept any bid offered to it by the community group and it currently has an asking price for the pub of £440,000.

The villagers have so far been pledged £330,000 in funding - three quarters of the asking price.

Mr Hobbs said: “We believe that we should be able to raise the amount necessary to put in a bid to purchase the pub."

Fellow society member Gabriel Brodetsky said he too was confident of raising the funding they believe would convince Brakspear to sell them the pub.

He said: "We are trying to get Brakspear to give their commitment to sell it to us if we have the asking price.

"We got the first £330,000 very quickly and a lot of people in the village all have expressed a real interest.

"I am certainly cautious but optimistic that we will get it."

The group launched its plea for funding on Saturday and will hold a meeting to discuss the project on October 6 at the Horton Cum Studley Village Hall with times to be confirmed.

Pub owners were contacted but declined to comment on the proposed bid when asked.