The Square and Compass, Worth Matravers, Dorset
On top of a cliff in the tiny village of Worth Matravers on the Purbeck Coast, is the Square and Compass. It began its life as a pair of cottages at the top of a bluff overlooking the pretty Purbeck stone village and the Channel. In 1776 it became an alehouse known as The Sloop. During that period it is rumoured that there was some involvement with smugglers and some skirmishes with excise men at St Aldhelms head. It passed through a number of hands until 1907 when it was taken over by Charlie and Florence Newman. It remains in the hands of the Newman family today.
The Square and Compass became a popular watering hole for the artistic set during the interwar periods, with visits from the artist Augustus John and actor Leslie Banks. During the war Worth Matravers became a testing and development site for radar and the pub was taken over by astronomers and physicists.
Today the Square and Compass, having resisted modernisation, is a favourite spot for locals, walkers and tourists. Its location on the Jurassic Coast means that thousands of walkers pass by every summer. It has a large beer garden which slopes down the bluff. The tables outdoors are made of large slabs of stone, giving it the feeling of sitting inside a stone circle. From the beer garden there is a panoramic view of the Channel.
Inside, the Square and Compass is small, with low ceilings and plenty of exposed beams. It stocks plenty of cask ale and cider, with cider being brewed out the back by the landlord. It was awarded Real Cider Pub of the Year by CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) in 2008. The food menu is smaller than the interior – home made pasties and pies are the only thing on offer.
As well as being a pub, The Square and Compass has its own Fossil Museum. This contains the fossil collection of Charlie Newman and his father Ray as well as Charlie’s archaeological finds, items washed up by shipwrecks and a collection of clay pipes. The Museum offers a unique perspective on the long history of the Purbeck Coast.
Tel: 01929 439229
Address: Worth Matravers, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 3LF