“In my 65th year, I’ve decided to ‘hang up my hat’ and put The White Hart, Wytham up for sale. It has been a pretty tough decision to make but I believe it’s time for me, and also time for a younger pair of hands to look after this iconic 18th century quintessential village pub.
Over eight years, we’ve welcomed nearly a quarter of a million guests. Weary travellers, party goers, multi-generational families, dog walkers, newlyweds, the very elderly and the very sprightly: wonderers and wanderers all of them.
We’ve welcomed every single one of these guests and sought every time to make the occasion both enjoyable and highly memorable. And it is every single one of these people that I want to thank from the bottom of my heart for supporting us through thick and thin.
I have loved pretty much every single day as the landlord here, not least for the chance to meet so many wonderful people and to hear some extraordinary life stories.
Working in hospitality presents challenges and opportunities every single day of the week. It’s a career for people who really care and it’s not for the faint hearted. A couple of months ago I stepped in to work a couple of weeks as our Kitchen Porter. It’s the very first job I had 50 years ago and the one that gave me my first clue that running a pub restaurant would become my passion.
This time around however, my bones ached as I hobbled home each night. It dawned upon me that I needed to find a new, younger owner/operator team that would have the belief, energy and creative vision to build upon what we’ve achieved and put their own stamp on the place. And this is the foremost of my objectives just now.
I know it’s not the greatest of times for hospitality – Brexit, Covid, and now energy and general inflation have given us huge challenges. But I know that out there, there are operators with all the passion and commercial acumen that I once had in spades and that I recognise is now waning in me.
Am I retiring? I’ve despised the thought of that for most of my life. In the first instance I’m going to go to France for a much-needed period of recuperation. I’ll hope to swim in the Mediterranean every day, eat a plate of rognons most lunchtimes and deal with the lure to smoke a packet of Gitanes with a glass of Armagnac in a café.
Thereafter my long-suffering wife – my biggest supporter, the person without whom I could not have done the last nine years – and I, have determined to recreate one of those romantic Grand Tours of Europe of many centuries ago and see life anew.
By Baz Butcher
The White Hart of Wytham is currently up for sale and the details can be found here: https://www.fleurets.com/properties/w-219181/freehold-pubs-for-sale/white-hart-oxford-oxfordshire