WHILE walking on Hergest Ridge in 2020, friends Hattie Budd and Judith Gardner shared a vision of a new social hub in Kington to regenerate their community post-COVID.

Their chosen venue: the Oxford Arms, a 3-storey, Grade II-listed coaching inn, whose grand Georgian front dominates Duke Street. Fast-forward 4 years, and – thanks to support from funders - the Oxford Arms is proudly owned by Open Arms Kington, a Community Interest Company run by a dedicated and big-hearted team of volunteers.

“We want to create a community pub and hub where everyone feels that sense of belonging”, says Hattie. “Besides a welcoming pub, we’ll provide a warm, accessible space for hosting all types of events, groups and meetings”.

“The Oxford is such an appropriate venue, having been a heart of Kington’s social life for four centuries,” explains Annie Gamble, who is researching the building’s history.

“People have been drinking here since the 1650s, and the first ball in 1811 lasted until 5am. The former landlord, Fred Hawkins, hosted a famous Young Farmers speed-shearing competition in the old ballroom. You can feel history in every room”.

However, being the centre of the party for 400 years takes its toll. Significant renovation works are needed before the building can be safely reopened. While fundraising to restore the pub, the team have created new traditions for the Oxford.

They have brought the ancient, cobbled barn and courtyard to life, hosting events like the inaugural Marches Marmalade Competition. At weekends, delicious smells from food popups waft across the sunny yard. In the evening, strings of lights illuminate live music performances.

This summer, the courtyard bar will be open Fridays 5pm-10pm and Sundays 12pm-4pm. The Oxford welcomes you with open arms.

Follow our journey and see upcoming events on Facebook and Instagram @openarmskington or join our mailing list by contacting info@openarmskington.co.uk or via our website www.openarmskington.co.uk.

Purchase of the Oxford Arms was made possible through funding from:

  • The Department of Levelling Up
  • Housing and Communties’ Community Ownership Fund
  • St Mary’s Parochial Church Council
  • The National Lottery Community Fund
  • Architectural Heritage Fund.


Open Arms Kington