Larger than life landlord calls time

Witney Gazette: Gerry Stonhill in 2008 Gerry Stonhill in 2008

HE fought the smoking ban and reputedly fell out with Michael Winner, but now legendary landlord Gerry Stonhill has retired.

Mr Stonhill, who has owned the Mason Arms in South Leigh, near Witney, for 18 years, has put the freehold on the market for £895,000.

The pub, which has been acclaimed by celebrity chefs and has its own helicopter landing pad, closed at the beginning of the month. During a brief interview, Mr Stonhill said: “I’m retiring, and it’s closed and for sale. If you want to know anything about it, ring my agent.”

Mr Stonhill famously flouted the smoking ban at the Mason Arms and was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £5,750 in 2008.

On leaving court, he told the Oxford Mail that former Prime Minister Tony Blair could “stick his anti-smoking law up his a***”.

He later joked that the payments were “nothing much to a rich man” and that he had “paid that out of a bag of loose change that I had lying about”.

Mr Stonhill refused to let children into the pub and only accepted payment by cash and American Express card. Few prices were displayed on the menu. The Mason Arms’ website said: “We don’t like children, mobile telephones or media restaurant critics.”

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The Grade II pub received high praise from celebrity chefs. Raymond Blanc described it as his “all-time favourite” pub and Marco Pierre White said it was his “favourite pub in Britain”, adding: “The food has all the cocksure confidence of the owner and almost as much attitude.”

But Mr Stonhill reputedly fell out with the Sunday Times’ late restaurant critic Michael Winner, who described the Mason Arms as “the tackiest pub in Britain”.

Mr Stonhill erected a plaque with the quote by the pub’s front door and a picture of Mr Winner was hung above the urinals.

Mr Stonhill’s commercial property agent, Peter Brunt, of Colliers International, said: “The Mason Arms was run in a very individual – probably unrepeatable – style by our client but all the fundamentals for a fabulous business are there in spades."

Comments (3)

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2:20pm Fri 24 May 13

nickwilcock says...

Although not living in this part of the world at the time, I first visited this pub 40 years ago when a friend held a wedding reception there - I remember it as a very pleasant country pub.

10 years later I moved down here and had many a pleasant time there in following years.

But not during Mr. Stonhill's era. Whilst his imaginative suggestion for a suppository appropriate for the oleaginous Bliar is to be much commended, little else appears to be.

Let's hope that this establishment will once again become a pleasant country pub. Where children are only tolerated if they are seen, but not heard; a policy which should also apply to mobile telephones and iToys in general!
Although not living in this part of the world at the time, I first visited this pub 40 years ago when a friend held a wedding reception there - I remember it as a very pleasant country pub. 10 years later I moved down here and had many a pleasant time there in following years. But not during Mr. Stonhill's era. Whilst his imaginative suggestion for a suppository appropriate for the oleaginous Bliar is to be much commended, little else appears to be. Let's hope that this establishment will once again become a pleasant country pub. Where children are only tolerated if they are seen, but not heard; a policy which should also apply to mobile telephones and iToys in general! nickwilcock
  • Score: -1

8:44pm Fri 24 May 13

Myron Blatz says...

Maybe Gerry should team-up with developer Martin Young?
Maybe Gerry should team-up with developer Martin Young? Myron Blatz
  • Score: -2

9:28am Tue 28 May 13

the wizard says...

Arrogant man with an attitude to match. Hopefully the place will be taken over by somebody with a more congenial personality . He can also keep his repugnant cigars and comments for those like himself, well matched.

Will not be missed.
Arrogant man with an attitude to match. Hopefully the place will be taken over by somebody with a more congenial personality . He can also keep his repugnant cigars and comments for those like himself, well matched. Will not be missed. the wizard
  • Score: 0

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