We would normally put a pub/inn tip under "nightlife" or "restaurants", but, frankly, the Square and Compasses pub is one of the main reasons why so many people visit Worth Matravers.
It is reputedly one of the best pubs in England, and has received many awards. It is certailnly different, and well worth a visit. This is no ordinary village pub, in the modern sense. For a start there is no bar, just a serving hatch in the hallway. There is a main room with seating for about 20 people - a combination of long tables, window seats, and chairs lined along the wall. Doesn't sound too enticing I know, but it works, and there is a lovely open fire. There is also another smaller room, and plenty of seating outside. The third main room of the pub is actually a tiny fossil museum. Oh, and you have to go outside to get to the toilets.
This is a great place, with loads of charm and atmosphere, great beer, and fabulous home made pasties (served on paper plates). It is very popular with walkers, but if you don't feel like exerting yourself that much, it is possible to get a bus (144) from Swanage which gives you enough time for a couple of lunchtime pints and a pasty before returning (see our main Worth Matravers page for details).
We had fun ogling the different types of vegetable matter there and looking around in general but there's more inside, and again I thank Ant Veal's site:
"I go there for the unique atmosphere of the place. There's no bar as such, merely two hatches in the corridor and beer is served directly from the casks behind. Bare flagstoned floors, wooden settles and tables in two rooms filled with chatty locals and visitors from far and wide. At weekends you might catch some folk music, and I was surprised to bump into Sophie, an old morris dancing friend from Norwich playing her flute. They don't offer accommodation in the pub itself, but if you phone the landlord he might let you camp around the back. Oh yes, they've a fossil museum around to the left which is well worth a look."
Actually it's the Square and Compass with purported links to smuggling and it sits atop the rise overlooking the town surrounded by what can only be described as an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac.
I wished that it had been open when I was there. Though it's only small, it sure looked interesting and, if you believe Ant Veal's site, it is, and I quote:
"This is one of only 20 or so pubs to have appeared in all 29 or so editions of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and when you visit this gem you can see why. It's been in the hands of the same family, the Newmans, for nearly 100 years and they don't seem to have any plans to sell up and move on either. It's built of a good strong stone and will no doubt be around for a long time to come. It also has a very special unspoilt and unique interior and it deservedly forms part of CAMRA's National Inventory of heritage pubs having been little changed in perhaps 200 years.
The pub lies a little off the beaten track and the busy A351 Wareham to Swanage road and when you approach this special place you step back in time to an age where life was at a slower place. The views to the south extend beyond the ancient field systems, now visible as narrow green terraces, out to sea to the English Channel. There are few places in southern England where I've felt this relaxed sitting out the front of the pub consuming a pint of Ringwood Best Bitter or perhaps one of their guest beers. They also sell real cider and host a cider festival near to Christmas and a beer festival in October.
I'm glad that this isn't a high class food pub with the constant too-ing and fro-ing of the company car brigade who glance regularly at their watches if the food doesn't arrive within 10 minutes. Far too many pubs have switched to food, but in this pub decent real ale and good conversation are the order of the day. They do offer simple dishes such as cheese and onion pie, chilli or pasties."
Then there was the church. Yet another that reeked of mediaeval history and had a graveyard to boot.
It's called St Nicholas of Myra and stands close to the centre of the stone-built village and is one of the oldest in Dorset. With a Saxon door blocked up in the 12th century the church is memorable for its Norman nave, tower and windows and Early English chancel. It was extensively restored in 1869 after it had become so dilapidated that services had to be held in the village school. In the churchyard is the grave of Benjamin Jesty, a Dorset yeoman reputed to be the first person to inoculate anyone with cowpox to ward off smallpox.
How good was this. As I watched the ducks noncholantly waddle down their green, a cat kept an eye on them. Not for purposes of attack, just out of curiousity. He's the one on the left. It's the way things are in Worth Matravers.
Right in the middle of the village is a large circular area. It contains a duck pond at the top, a duck walking area in the middle and a cute little garden at the bottom. The ducks are community property. It was such a wonderful feeling.
Here Rosemarie checks out their "dog" boxes, or duck kennels, whatever. They are supplied and looked after by the community. I thought that was such a nice thing you couldn't wipe the smile off my face for half an hour afterwards.
It surprised me in retrospect. Here we were, looking at a lovely row of houses that, if they were placed in the Cotswolds, would draw people by the busload, as they do at Bibury.
Yet we had the place to ourselves (well, there was a duck or two also) and it was all so wonderful.
The place was so squeaky clean it felt like you were intruding on someone's new carpet and you should take your shoes off.
It was like a movie set that had just been finished an hour ago and everyone had gone to lunch. It had Rosemarie and me in its grasp when we first drove down the hill into the main square.
This shot shows the local tea rooms, fairly quiet on the Friday when we visited. Still, it was only about 10.00 a.m.
Now, mention villages to me and it conjures up images of working class housing, residents not over-endowed with wealth and a community spirit missing in the big cities. Imagine my shock when the first backyard I glanced into had this...............I mean, a real genuine Bugatti, how good was that!
The sound of the motor purring crisply down the road about half an hour later sent a chill up my spine. Awesome.
I couldn't believe it, here in this village they even had a somewhat optimistically named Town Hall, looking totally in character with the rest of the village.
How aptly named and what a delight. Set on the hillside heading towards the inn this abode understandably caught my attention along with its appropriate title.