MYSTERY surrounds the closure of a Winchester pub after the landlord is suspected to have abandoned it in the middle of the night.

The Trout Inn in Itchen Abbas has been closed for nearly a month after the tenants left suddently.

Itchen Valley Parish Council clerk, Viv Brooks, said: “At the last council meeting in the beginning of May someone said that the manager had absconded in the middle of the night but that’s all we know at this stage.”

One villager left a chalked notice by the door: “Closed. They bloody left without telling us. The Village. X”

Councillor for the Itchen Valley ward, Kim Gottlieb, said: “We were very unhappy to see it close. It’s quite a tricky one because the brewery needs to get the formula just right. It’s not about offering a good pint and decent food, it’s got to serve a much wider community now because the competition is so fierce.

“The village will be very disappointed if it closes down completely. We’ve got some other good pubs in the area not far away but it would be a big shame if it were to close. I know the village are keen to see it reopen and I hope the new landlord will bring something new. It’s had a patchy history but we’re lucky to have a number of good pubs all over the place.”

A spokesperson for Greene King said: “Unfortunately the Trout closed earlier this month (May), for reasons beyond our control.

“However, we wish to reassure locals and customers that it is an important pub to us and we are now in the process of recruiting a new tenant who will take the Trout forward. We plan to re-open it in July, following a refurbishment throughout the pub, its bedrooms and the garden.”