River Chelmer Chelmsford Essex
A large inflatable penis was spotted in the River Chelmer Creative Commons

A 'mortified' UK mother had to lie to her children in order to preserve their innocence after they spotted a huge inflatable penis floating along the River Chelmer in Chelmsford, Essex, yesterday (16 July).

The mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, spotted the novelty phallus as she and her little ones passed through French's Walk in the heart of the city's shopping district.

Her discomfort only intensified when one of her youngsters asked: "Mummy, what's that?"

"It was mortifying," she said. "They were shouting really loudly in the street."

The quick thinking mum was forced to fashion a white lie in order to sate her children's curiosity and told them that the offending item was a "big pink balloon".

The woman suspects the penis found its way into the river after a hen night that "went wrong", adding: "The poor hen is now missing her giant willy – it was probably quite expensive. These things happen I suppose but I was quite shocked."

A '3.7m pink girls night out inflatable willy' can be purchased on Amazon for as little as £1.60 ($2.10). The website says that it is frequently bought along with a 'stick the willy on the man' game – a play on the children's classic 'pin the tail on the donkey', priced £1.84.

"A few people laughed as they went past," said the mum. "You don't expect to see that sort of thing when you're walking back from town with your little kids," said the mum.

In September last year, residents and tourists in Brussels were shocked to discover giant penises daubed across various walls in the Belgian capital. MP Vincent Henderick described the street art as "inappropriate".

Click below to see what the item at the heart of the incident in Chelmsford.

Inflatable Penis
The penis was similar to this item listed on Amazon Amazon