Essex pub that displayed golli*** dolls goes up for sale with six-figure asking price

The White Hart Inn’s leaseholders closed up after police launched an investigation, before taking no further action

Joe Middleton
Friday 29 December 2023 17:11
<p>The White Hart pub was at the centre of a row over golli**** dolls were displayed </p>

The White Hart pub was at the centre of a row over golli**** dolls were displayed

A pub that closed after its collection of golli**** was seized by police as part of a hate crime investigation has been put up for sale.

The White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex, was hit with a supplier boycott and vandalised after displaying the dolls, which are based on 18th century minstrels and now widely regarded as racist caricatures.

In April this year Essex Police seized fifteen of the dolls as part of a hate crime probe , but prosecutors later announced they would not be taking no further action against the landlords.

The pub’s leaseholders, Benice Ryley and her husband Chris, then closed the pub in May following the fallout from the well-publicised row.

Now estate agent Savills has listed the Grade-II listed pub, located in Argent Street, for sale, as reported by the Southend Echo.

It is inviting offers of £575,000 for the two-storey detached property which boasts a beer garden, central bar area, private function room, toilets, a managers office, and living quarters on the first floor.

At the height of the furore the Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) removed the pub from the Good Beer Guide and banned it from receiving its awards.

Heineken and Carlsberg told the landlords to stop selling its products and maintenance firm Innserve refused to work at the pub.

The pub was targeted with graffiti and had five windows damaged on 16 April after the seizure of the dolls.

The dolls in the pub before they were seized by Essex Police

In an interview with Thurrock Nub News about the pub’s closure in May, Mrs Ryley said “I’ve had enough” and defended displaying the dolls, saying that younger people did not understand their history.

She had displayed the collection of about 30 dolls, donated by her late aunt and customers, in the pub for nearly 10 years.

Mrs Ryley told the title: “I feel gutted, totally and utterly gutted. Hurt, upset. I’ve had very, very much support from many people about the gollies.

“We’ve had a few bits of hate, which I personally don’t understand because it’s part of our life.”

She insisted “young people these days don’t understand” the history of the dolls, saying some of her “collection” are “antiques”.

She added: “I want them back. Basically, this is my life now, that they’ve ruined because we’ve got a stigma with our name now and with the pub.

“I’m going to miss the pub, I’m going to miss the people. We have had so many laughs in here. We have had so much happiness in here.”

She said she “probably would have plodded on with the pub” if the police had not become involved, but claimed “they’ve ruined our name”.

Camra national chairman Nik Antona said in May this year: “Following the announcement that the White Hart in Grays, Essex, has closed, Camra now hopes this heritage venue is preserved as a pub and will provide a warm welcome to all.

“We believe pubs are for everyone – there is never a place for discrimination.”

Additional reporting by PA

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