Worth Matravers pub with fossil museum gets modern update

The landlord of the Square and Compass pub at Worth Matravers in Dorset may not be known for moving with the times but he’s just completed new building work in response to the greater demand for outdoor eating and drinking.

Charlie Newman, fourth generation landlord of the independent pub, famed for its fossil museum, says the major extension to the pub’s kitchen and the new outside serving hatch, is a long overdue move prompted by Covid.

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Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers

The Grade II listed Square and Compass pub was originally built as a pair of cottages before later becoming an alehouse

“We’ll see how it develops”

Charlie said:

“We’ve always used the garden and set up a temporary bar outside when we had a wedding or big event but hopefully this will establish a more permanent thing and we’ll see how it develops.”

Future plans also include extending the fossil theme outside into the pub garden.

Square and Compass kitchen extension
Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers

The new kitchen extension with traditional Purbeck stone and slate work – and an ammonite set into the bricks

Pasties and pies

With a demand for more space, having a bar opening out onto the garden at the side of the pub, will make serving customers easier.

While not offering an extensive menu, the place is popular with ramblers, dog walkers and cyclists for its pasties and pies and of course the real ale.

It’s also a well established music venue with bands travelling from miles around to play at the traditional pub.

Square and Compass

One of the pub rooms with a photograph of Charlie Newman’s great grandfather above the mantelpiece

Keeping the fossil theme

The pub has always been noted for its cosy intimacy. A photograph of Charlie’s great grandfather, also called Charlie, hangs above the fireplace inside one room.

Another room at the other end of the pub houses the extensive fossil and archaeology collection.

It’s a pub that has been frozen in time – in this case partly at 35 million years ago – but it’s now adapting to changing circumstances.

An ammonite built into the brickwork of the new extension sets the tone for a fossil theme that Charlie is planning to extend outside, hoping to show it’s possible to change without breaking with the past.

Charlie Newman pub landlord of the Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers

Charlie Newman outside the door to the fossil museum at one end of the pub

Pub landlord with a fossil named after him

Indeed, Charlie Newman is one pub landlord who is proud to be an old fossil – he’s actually had a fossil of the world’s oldest mammal named after him, Durlstotherium Newmani – and he has a long association with Steve Etches, the fossil hunter who runs the Etches Collection at Kimmeridge.

Charlie said:

“I don’t even have a mobile phone. I reckon if anybody wants me, they can come and find me.”

Fossil Museum at the Square and Compass pub
Square and Compass fossil museum

The fossil museum was set up in memory of Charlie’s father Raymond who inspired his fascination

“Always his dream to have a museum”

Charlie’s great grandfather Charlie took on the pub in 1907 and ran it until 1953.

His grandfather was also called Charlie, but it was his great aunt Eileen who ran the pub from 1953 until 1973, when his father Ray became landlord.

He then passed it on to Charlie, who managed to buy the freehold in 1994.

Charlie said:

“Dad started the fossil collection, and it was always his dream to have a museum which I was finally able to do as a tribute to him.

“It’s not really so unusual because pubs have always gathered old artefacts for people to chat about over a pint. It’s just that these are a bit older.”

Square and Compass fossil museum
Square and Compass fossil museum

The fossil collection is the culmination of decades of work

“Counting my blessings”

The last couple of years have been particularly tough for the hospitality industry with many pubs closing. The need to rethink how they do things has become paramount.

Charlie said:

“We have been busy, so I’m counting my blessings that we are doing so well.”

Of course, when it comes to location The Square and Compass certainly has one of the best. And it also has a long and proud history to celebrate.

Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers

Popular with walkers and cyclists, the Square and Compass is also a well established music venue

Further information

  • More about the pub is on its website.

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