Let’s look forward, says pub caught up in race row

Just Regional
Jun 11, 2020 2 mins read

Aylsham’s popular marketplace hotel has been unwittingly caught up in anti-racism protests with calls for all British pubs called The Black Boy or The Black Boys to be renamed.

The Black Boys Inn has stood in the marketplace for centuries and managing partner Matt Miller said that while he was sensitive to the issue, it was not his main focus at the moment.

“Right now, our main focus isn’t the name of the pub, it’s getting the outside area ready and getting ready to open up again,” he said.

The popular pub has remained busy during the lockdown with its takeaway meals service, which meant diners could still enjoy their Black Boys favourites. But Matt is very much looking forward to welcoming customers back in person.

“We can review the name if it is needed and if customers tell us we need to,” he said. “Until then we just want to concentrate on making sure we can open up again.”

The Black Boys Inn, in Aylsham.

Matt said that, like many of the other 25 or so British pubs sharing the same name, the hotel was named after King Charles II, who was nicknamed The Black Boy on account of his black hair and swarthy complexion. The Black Boys in nearby Aldborough was also named in support of the monarch.

Many inns around this time changed their names to show allegiance and in 1815 John Crome, of the Norwich School of Painters, was commissioned to paint a sign for the inn which he based on a portrait of the King.

It has been suggested that the names of the pubs have a deeper and darker link with the slaves who were used by wealthy households in the 17th century – a connection campaigners would like to be broken.

There are thought to be at least 25 pubs, inns and hotels – and at least one village – in Britain called some variation on The Black Boy and amid growing protests by the Black Lives Matter movement there have been calls for them all to be renamed, saying the name has racist connotations.

This week part of a sign for The Green Man and Black’s Head Royal Hotel in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was taken down for its “resemblance to a racist doll” after thousands of campaigners demanded its removal.  

More of what's happening in Aylsham