IT'S the 300-year-old Hampshire village pub saved from the jaws of developers and given a new lease of life with a spectacular £1 million refurbishment.

The Lapstone at Horton Heath reopened in March and now boasts six garden domes and an authentic Italian menu which combines Mediterranean passion with Hampshire produce.

The pub is fast becoming somewhat of a community hub.

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Russ Kitching took it over in 2018 when it appeared it would close for good and the land potentially be used for housing.

The successful purchase of the pub by his Chandler's Ford based soft drinks company Thirstee Business followed a Save The Lapstone campaign by locals.

Following a host of Covid and planning delays, Russ finally reopened the doors earlier this year.

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Russ told the Daily Echo: "When we heard that Enterprise Inns were selling off the property potentially for demolition and housing, we decided to step in.

"Being at the centre of the local community for nearly 300 years, including during two World Wars, we wanted to restore the Lapstone and create a community hub.

"Getting The Lapstone open was a real rollercoaster. Planning issues, building delays, and Covid restrictions were all so frustrating - particularly given that the pub had been closed for some time and the community was so keen to see it open again. Thankfully, we found a way through these challenges, and The Lapstone is starting to look and feel like the community hub I had always envisaged."

The pub offers everything from Mindfulness Mondays, which aim to combat loneliness, to yoga on Friday mornings. Soulful Sundays are afternoon jamming sessions for local musicians and regular markets in the marquee feature food, drink, arts, and craft stalls.

Plans are also afoot to offer days out to the pub for care home residents for music, bingo and gentle yoga, create a podcast and sponsor local football and cricket teams.

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The menu offers a balance between authentic Italian and popular British dishes, cooked by Italian chefs Marco and Pino using seasonal local produce. The pizza, pasta, burgers, tiramisu, traditional Sunday roasts and salads are very popular, as is the newly introduced homemade gelato from Forest Edge in Fordingbridge.

The Lapstone is also known for its rather theatrical cocktail trees for groups and real ales, which include local favourites from the Flower Pots Inn in Cheriton and Hop Back Brewery in Downton.

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As part of the refurbishment project at The Lapstone, original walls and flooring were uncovered, incorporated into the new look pub and preserved for future generations.

It's an eclectic venue in terms of style and layout and hopes to offer something for everyone from its six zones - the domes, a rustic outdoor seating area, a marquee, a coffee shop, the pub itself, and the front garden.

"There’s a place for everyone," adds Russ.

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