STAFF at the Rattlebone Inn are determined to get it reopened as soon as possible after a blaze left the historic building seriously damaged.

Villagers at Sherston have already rallied round with offers of help following the fire in the early hours of Tuesday.

Ten crews from three counties were called out after the alarm was raised by a neighbour’s barking dog at 2.30am.

Firefighters from Malmesbury, Tetbury, Nailsworth and Yate were among the 60 or more at the scene at the height of the blaze. The fire was eventually out at 8am.

Manager Gavin Hunt was asleep in his flat when the alarms went off. Speaking shortly after the fire was doused, he said: “I thought it was the burglar alarm at first.”

“I came downstairs, disabled the alarm and phoned the fire brigade and was told they had already been called.

Unknown to him a nearby resident had been woken by his dog, spotted the flames coming through the roof of the 17th Century building and dialled 999.

“Because there were no flames internally or any smoke, I had no way of knowing until the fire alarm went off. I just got out as quickly as I could.”

He was full of praise for villagers who had already come forward to help. “I’m borrowing someone else’s clothes, I’ve had a shower and I’ve been given food. It is such a friendly village. Everybody pulls together.”

Shocked landlord Jason Read told the Standard: “I got a call from Gavin at about 3am to say there had been a fire.”

“The bar hasn’t been touched apart from a little water damage. It’s just upstairs. We’re going to assess the damage and see where we go from there.

He pledged: “We will do everything in our power to get it back open as soon as we can.”

Even as he stood surveying the damage, residents approached to offer their support.

“The reaction has been amazing. Everyone has offered to help,” he said. “We treat most of our customers as friends anyway.”

Firefighters from Malmesbury were first on the scene. Crew manager Ollie Smith said the blaze was already well developed when they arrived. The first message I sent back to control was that the roof was well alight.”

“We got water on the back and started to extinguish the fire, but a gas pipe ruptured, which was above the fire door.

“At that point I got the crews out of the building until we isolated the gas supply, which we did quite quickly.”

He said” The crews did a really good job. Not just Malmesbury. There were three different fire services all working together.”

The pub, named after Saxon warrior John Rattlebone, is a favourite of Princes William and Harry, and also played host to movie director Stephen Spielberg while he was filming Warhorse four years ago.

It also helps to stage the village’s annual mangold hurl - a tournament in which competitors fling root vegetables won in 2009 by TV farmer Jimmy Doherty’s team.

The cause of the blaze is believed to be accidental.