I have yet to visit a country that is better suited to big, chunky and solid pubs, where you can find heart-warming food surrounded by gentle architecture and a real sense of community. These types of pubs have been a mainstay of the small British village for hundreds of years (or more) and continue to be one of my favourite parts of the UK food and drink culture. I spent that later years of my teens in the green and gentle hills of Dorset, in the south of the UK, and here you can find some of the very best examples of countryside pubs that are the very centre of the surrounding community - here are three of my favourites.
I worked here for a year after I left school, and although I saw it from a slightly different perspective, it was a truly beautiful place to work. The gentle pink walls and impeccably thatched roof all draw me in, as does the striking green lawn and the towering but peaceful willow tree. This pub is in the pretty little village of Pimperne, which is as classical a southern countryside village as they come. The most exciting thing that happens here is a heated debate during a cricket match on a sunny Spring day. And although it's not the place to find adventure and multi-culturalism, it is the very epitome of a relaxed British village with a fantastic pub!
This is a pub that is following a growing (and very welcome) trend of incorporating incredibly high quality food in with a traditional and comfortable setting. The Brace of Pheasants has won multiple awards over the last few years for their locally produced, sourced and gathered ingredients. Dorset is a farming region, and so the wealth of animals and vegetables that can be seasonally used are only limited by the imagination of the chef. At this pub, that limit is yet to be reached, and they continually produce stunning dishes, while never forgetting the setting. This is another thatched roof beauty, and it really does feel like a central part of the little town it sits in. Every idyllic little English town has a local pub, and the very best are historical, inventive and welcoming - just like The Brace of Pheasants.
The Bankes Arms is another perfect example of when wonderful history and tradition combines with community and cuisine. An Italian chef with a flair for drama and presentation marries fantastically with this 16th Century grey stone building, which has a garden that overlooks the city. I love any kind of history, and to be able to sit inside of it, and have great food and drinks in this setting is remarkable. There are not many pubs that I've visited that can compare to the location and sense of past as The Bankes Arms. Corfe Castle was built by William the Conqueror, and was one of the earliest castles in the UK to be made of stone, so it's well worth visiting whilst you see the pub. or the other way around.