VILLAGERS are vying to buy a pub that is said to be where Winston Churchill learnt to drink.

Greene King is selling The White House in Bladon, the West Oxfordshire village in which the former Prime Minister is buried, and residents fear it could close if it falls into the hands of developers.

It is on the market for £495,000, and the community has six months to raise the money before any other offers are considered.

Bladon resident Rachel Guest, who is on the pub’s community committee, said: “The White House has been at the heart of the Bladon community since the 16th century, and is our last remaining pub and community facility.

“It’s also the pub where Churchill ‘learned to drink’ during his time in Blenheim Palace.

“With a growing population of just under 1,000 residents and thousands of visiting tourists, Bladon needs this important and historic pub.”

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The White House is still open as usual, at least until the current tenancy ends in April.

It also gets footfall from visitors to Churchill’s grave and nearby Blenheim, where he was born.

In June, after hearing murmurings about a potential sale, Bladon Parish Council succeeded in getting the pub listed as an asset of community value.

This means the owners have to give six months to allow locals the chance to bid for it, before putting it on the open market.

Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth, who has lived in Bladon for 24 years, said the pub is a hub of the village community.

He said: “The community does not want to lose this asset and is working together to ensure that for future generations there is a pub in Bladon.

“It will not be an easy task as there needs to be a group of committed individuals who drive this project forward, with the village all working together to raise funds.

“There is amazing potential for the White House to be more than just a pub, as we lost the village shop many years ago.”

Mr Hudspeth said the village will miss the pub’s current landlord Kevin McEneaney, particularly his ‘excellent food and Sunday roasts.’

Mr McEneaney told the Oxford Mail he fully supported villagers’ hopes to take the pub over, and approached the parish council about making it a community asset.

He said: “I wish whoever buys the pub the best of luck.

“I hope I never see a house on here, it’s important that this village has a pub - it’s part of the identity of the village.

“If the villagers raise enough money to buy it, that’s fantastic.”

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Mr McEneaney, who has been landlord for five and a half years, said his has been the longest tenancy at the pub since 1991.

It is a particularly special place for him as it it where he took his now-wife Penny, a wing commander in the RAF, for their first date.

It is also where he proposed to her, from behind the bar, and also where they held their wedding reception earlier this year.

The landlord has lived in Oxfordshire for 16 years, but plans to move out of the county once his tenancy ends.

He said: “I’ve got a lot of connections here. It’s been my home for a long time.”

A community meeting was held in the village on Thursday, where people were asked to discuss options and express interest in becoming a shareholder.

The group is being helped by the Woodstock-based Plunkett Foundation, which will support them to develop a business plan and make it a success as they already have for other community pubs.

Mrs Guest, who lives in the village with her husband and two daughters, said: "Pub closure not only threatens the social cohesion of a community, but also exacerbates the impact of rural isolation.

"We have been really encouraged by the wide support for a community purchase not just from Bladon residents, but from surrounding villages and further afield.

"Several individual investors have pledged their support."

Bladon is the latest community to fight for their last remaining local, with villagers in Garsington also going through the same process currently to buy their pub.

For more details about the campaign, visit or @bladon_pub on Twitter.