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Larger than life landlord calls time
12:00pm Friday 24th May 2013 in Headlines
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.”
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."
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