A HOME, a lemonade factory, an architect’s office, a place to slaughter horses – and now a rug shop, a pie shop and a museum.

Witney Blanket Hall has kept its name since it was built nearly 300 years ago, yet it has been home to a variety of eclectic and unique trades throughout the years.

Today it is no different. The town’s famous building is now playing host to a smart museum, a shop selling tasty and homemade pies, and a rug store – all under one roof.

But the most exciting part is, after 200 years of waiting, the public can finally explore the building that has become such an important part of Witney’s history.

Witney Blanket Hall is officially fully open to the public for the first time since the 19th century.

New owner Richard Martin has spent the past 18 months refurbishing and redecorating the huge building.

Mr Martin, who runs the hall with partner Trish Poole and daughter Eleanor Martin, said: “I had seen the Blanket Hall for years and thought it would be something smart. We opened three weeks ago and have had a very pleasant reception so far.

“We spent 18 months converting it and refurbishing it, and have made it into a sort of museum. People can, for the first time in many years, actually enter and go inside.”

Mr Martin has been running rug and blanket business Cotswold Woollen Weavers, based in Filkins, for more than 30 years.

As part of the hall’s transformation, he has set up a rug shop inside the Blanket Hall, as well as a pie shop.

Mr Martin said: “I’ve always wanted to open a pie shop like Mrs Miggins in Blackadder.

“People can book out the Great Room as well for functions.”

The Blanket Hall was built in 1721 and was the home of the Witney Company of Blanket Weavers.

The company came to an end in 1847, and the building was used for a variety of different purposes, such as a lemonade factory, an architect’s office, and a place to slaughter horses.

It was a also the home of a man named Brian Crawford for 40 years.

Mr Martin added: “I think Witney is a very well-managed town. It has no empty shops and there is free parking. We thought we would be suitable people to do something with the Blanket Hall. It’s part of Witney’s heritage.”

Local historian Stanley Jenkins said it was wonderful to see one of Witney’s buildings being brought back to life.

The author of Witney: A History said: “It’s upstairs is almost like the sitting room of a stately home. To some extent this balances the loss of the historic mill buildings.

“In terms of architecture, it’s quite a landmark.

“And as far as traders are concerned, it is hoped that this will attract people to the other end of the High Street. Normally people stay around the Market Square”.

Find the Blanket Hall at 100 High Street, just south of the town bridge.