Since taking over the pub on the first day of lockdown things have been anything but quiet for Karen and David Foster, son Joe and partner Darcy, the new landlords at the Bell Inn, Wylye.

They have been hard at work transforming the historic building from eyesore to village hub, they said.

The work included clearing the grounds of years of refuse, marking out a new cycling rest area and refurbished open tea garden. They promise to have the inside looking just as good in time to reopen as soon as possible.

“Since the Covid-19 situation has hit us, we’ve come up with ways to build back community spirit for the Wylye Valley.

We organised things like giving out Easter Eggs over the Bank Holiday, delivering scones on St Georges Day and supplying free cakes for VE Day – all to boost morale.”

The wholly-supportive feedback led the team to start a weekly bake sale for villagers, featuring various homecooked sweets and artisan breads.

“The icing on the cake could be the new pub sign, designed by local girl Isabel to reflect the joys of living in the Wylye valley. Once the pub re-opens, the sign will be auctioned off with the money raised going to the Salisbury Foodbank. We’ve also started doing takeaways, including a pizza night on Thursdays, delivering for free to the local villages and secluded households, with 25% of the profits from sales also going to Salisbury Foodbank,” they added.

When asked what they enjoyed most about their first few months, Karen said: “Being part of a real village community is something special, and community spirit, especially in these challenging times, is something Wylye and the surrounding villages have in abundance.  We are privileged to be have been entrusted with caring for this amazing pub and all the history that comes with it. Lock down has enabled us to engage with the community in new and innovative ways, and when the time is right, we will open our doors to all our new neighbours.”