Pub Curmudgeon has visited as many great pubs as anyone I’ve met, and I recall him praising the King’s Arms in Dorset’s Wareham a few years back.

This is a particularly attractive small town, bypassed en route to Corfe Castle and the Purbeck coast, which might explain why I’d never been before.  The ten minute train journey there around Holes Bay was worth the ticket price alone.

Wareham reminded me a bit of Sandwich, a small prosperous town with a good walk round the mounds that made up its Saxon walls, a pleasing high street and superb church.

Immediately opposite the station are the remains of a terrific looking dead pub, but most of the town’s pub were very much alive.

Railway, now an Indian restaurant

The star is the King’s Arms, local pub of the year and reasonably busy after the lunch trade. This is a classic multi-roomed drinkers pubs that was easy to relax in; some of the locals were a little too relaxed for 3pm.

Local banter centred around the number of shopping days to Christmas, Rachel Riley v Carol Vorderman (Carole is better on maths, apparently), Essex girls, and a capella renditions of “Whisky in a Jar“.  Probably your sort of pub too.

I was a bit disappointed that Skinners seemed to have taken Ringwood’s place on the bar, but it was about as good a Betty Stoggs as you could hope for, in a model glass.

King’s Arms, Wareham

If pushed, I wouldn’t put it in the same bracket as nearby Sherborne’s Digby Tap, either for beer or unique atmosphere, but I’d love it for my local. No pub cat obvious but some cat art to compensate.


All of the pubs looked decent in an affluent market town sort of way, though most customers were down by the quay, which could have done without the car park but was otherwise a lovely spot for idling.

The Quay Inn itself looked like a nondescript dining pub but was much better than that.  The barmaid made the effort to get me a half of the Isle of Purbeck from the barrel in the cellar, rather than just saying “it’s gone, we’ve got Landlord“, as many would have done.  The whole place lacked pretension, including the food.

With more time/capacity I’d have been happy to try any of the other five pubs, including the recommended Duke of Wellington.


  1. Been out drinking in Wareham half a dozen times. The Wellington is probably my favourite pub (it’s up for sale at the moment, incidentally). Indeed the only one that’s an absolute shambles is the Black Bear Inn.


    1. I have a feeling that it might have been the Wellington that was the star a few years back, but it’s out of the Guide now, whether due to quality or uncertainty.

      Black Bear has Cask Marque so must be good surely !


      1. I’m amazed you put so much faith in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide – it’s never been reliable in my experience. It’s pretty good for business if you are in it, so as a businessman was pleased my own pub was, but as a consumer I haven’t referenced it for years.


      2. You’re probably right Jeff, but everyone needs a hobby. Doing all the pubs in a movable feast works for me.

        I can vouch for Cambridge and Stockport branches picking on beer rather than pub quality, and few pubs in the Guide produce a duff pint. That said, there’s plenty of bars that will never get in the Guide I’ll still go in for the experience e.g. the Boot at King’s Cross.


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