Of the last five pubs to have been in every Good Beer Guide, Dorset’s Square and Compass was the one I was most looking forward to revisiting, as much for the glorious coastal views from the garden as the pub itself.

So far London’s Star and Buckingham Arms have been better than I remembered, while Newton’s Queen Head (in my county) is as good as ever.

The views over the famous fields were wonderful, but not quite the best in the area.


The beer (Palmers on gravity, NBSS 3.5) was excellent too, but also bettered a couple of miles down the road. The steak pasty has no equal anywhere though.

That crisp boxes on barrels debate rages on

The building itself looks more wonderful than ever, beautifully kept and teeming with cosy corners.  One of the best places to enjoy a pint anywhere, and of course outside toilets.


The biggest surprise was in how much this felt like a real drinker’s pub rather than a National Trust tourist attraction.  The lack of food (pasties apart) helps, but there was little of the boorish behaviour you sometime see in places like this.  Lulworth Cove a few miles west would be a very different experience.

Even the little museum added rather than detracted from the effect, mirroring the Yew Tree in Cauldon in some respects.

The rooms themselves are relatively simply furnished, but with striking colour.  A few pictures and cuttings tell the story of the pub.  This one is particularly fascinating;



Possibly the most relaxing pub trip of the year so far, and like the Queen’s Head I expect the Newman family will not need an ACV to maintain this wonderful place for years to come.

Roscoe Head will complete the set of five, also a classic pub but with more risk to it’s future.


  1. I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting the Square and Compass once; and that was back in the early 1980’s. The previous Mrs Bailey and I walked there, along the coast, from the campsite we were staying at in Langton Matravers.

    Thirty plus years on, and your photos bring back pleasant memories of all that is good with a country pub. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to return to. Glad to see that it doesn’t seem to have changed much.


  2. Excellent write-up. It would be interesting to analyse how the 41 were whittled down to 5.

    Not much temperature control on the beer, though. I wonder how good it would be on a blazing summer day. And, while it’s quirky, I’m not too keen on the idea of putting crisp boxes on top of the casks.

    It always used to serve Whitbread beers, although I’m not sure if they actually owned it. The 1989 Good Beer Guide, which was around when I visited, shows it as serving Strong Country Bitter and Pompey Royal.


    1. Good point on temperature control. Mine was ideal, though not sure about Palmers beers; need to visit Bridport to see if they’re as good as I thought they were. Ringwood and Otter have excelled recently.


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