The Square and Compass


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Worth Matravers, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 3LF


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Statutory Address:
Worth Matravers, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 3LF

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Worth Matravers
National Grid Reference:


A public house, dating from the C18, with a wing added in the mid-C19.

Reasons for Designation

The Square and Compass, a public house originating in the C18 and extended in the C19, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as an C18 building, extended in the C19, which has been a public house since the late C18; * for its interior, which includes a now-rare counterless arrangement, with service through hatches from a servery rather than over a bar counter.

Historic interest: * for the evidence it demonstrates of its evolution from a pair of C18 cottages to a two-roomed public house.


The Square and Compass originated by the mid-C18, possibly as a pair of cottages, converted to an alehouse known as The Sloop in about 1793, after the site was purchased by brewer, Thomas Phippard. There were connections with smuggling, including skirmishes with excise men at St Aldhelm’s Head. By 1833, it was known as the Square and Compass, and occupied by a new tenant landlord, stonemason Charles Bower. The building is shown on the tithe map of 1840, without the single-storey stable range which was added to the east in the early years of the C20. In about 1850, the long cross-wing was added at the eastern end of the main range. After over 40 years’ tenancy, Charles Bower was succeeded by his wife, and then a series of tenants for brewers Strong and Co, until 1907, when the pub was taken on by the Newman family, who bought the pub in 1994 after almost a century of tenancy, and remained in charge at the time of inspection (2019). In the inter-war years the pub became a fashionable watering hole for a creative group which included painter Augustus John. In the mid-C20, the room to the right of the entrance was expanded into the adjoining former stable range, with a new fireplace and stack inserted, and a large opening created in the former end wall of the main range. There also appears to have been at least a partial replacement of the roof structure, with some mid-C20 timbers in the visible portion. During the Second World War regular customers included physicist and astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, and nobel laureates Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir Martin Ryle, all of whom were working on developing radar nearby. In the later C20, a single-storey, flat-roofed extension was added to the rear of the former stable range, adjoining the earlier outshut. The main range and extension remained at the time of inspection (2019) in use as a public house; the ground floor of the cross wing was used as a museum of fossils and local archaeological finds.


A public house, dating from the C18, with a wing added in the mid-C19.

MATERIALS Colourwashed rubble stone walls, under stone slate roofs, with stone stacks.

PLAN The buildings form a rough T-plan, with a main range running east-west with a rear outshut, long cross wing at the west end, and a further range outbuilding range extending eastwards from the main range. This range has a later rear extension.

EXTERIOR The main range is of one and a half storeys, the right-hand former stable range is single storey, and the long cross-wing two storeys. The main range and extension have multi-paned casement windows; the windows of the cross wing are mainly similar. The main entrance is in the south of the main range, via a porch formed from three solid stone slabs, with a wide, part-glazed plank door. The three-bay main range has three two-light casement windows to the ground floor, and three similar windows to the hipped and gabled half-dormers above. A broad, stone ridge stack rises from the left gable end. To the right, the former stable range has a window matching those to the main range, with a pedestrian door slightly off centre, and double doors to the right-hand bay. A stone stack rises from the ridge between the first and second bays. The cross wing has a sash window in an exposed sash box set in the south gable end. The gable has high coping with straight kneelers. The inner face of the wing has a pedestrian door and casement window. The long west elevation is partly rendered, partly painted stone, with scattered fenestration.

INTERIOR From the central doorway, a passage laid with large stone flags runs front to back, leading into the outshut at the rear, which is used as a cellar and servery. Service is via a stable door hatch – there is no bar counter. To the left is a further hatch. Timber partition walls resembling plank and muntin divide off the tap room, entered via a formerly sliding doorway. This room also has a stone flag floor, built-in timber benches with timber backs, and a wide, inglenook fireplace with a high mantelpiece on brackets. The room has exposed, square-section beams. To the right of the passage is the ‘Big Room’, which was a small parlour prior to the mid-C20, when the gable end wall was breached to create a wide opening into part of the adjoining stable block. The room, accessed via an Arts and Crafts style studded plank door with decorative strap hinges, has a mid-C20 continuous wood-block floor, and fielded panelling to picture rail height, which incorporates a two-panel hatch to allow service from the rear outshut. At the east end of the room, within the former stable range, is a stone-built chimney breast and fireplace with an arched opening with broad keystone and built-in niches, added when this part of the range was brought into use as part of the pub in the mid-C20. The ceiling has exposed joists. The remainder of the former stable range houses lavatories, accessed only from the exterior. The rear outshut has exposed roughly-hewn principal rafters and butt purlins to its lean-to roof, and a small opening to the rear of the main range. The interior of the later, flat-roofed rear extension is modern in its construction and finishes. The cross wing can be accessed from the exterior or via an internal opening towards the centre of the range. The ground floor rooms have applied timber faux-joists. The north wall is clad in matchboarding which includes two cupboards with C19 hinges.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Brandwood, G, Britain's Best Real Heritage Pubs: Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest (Camra), (2016), 38


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 20 May 2002
Reference: IOE01/07094/10
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr David Scott. Source Historic England Archive
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