– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –
Our final entry for the week spent exploring ‘Quirky Dorset’ earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest public house in England, although that accolade no longer applies as we shall see. This is The Smith’s Arms.
The Smith’s Arms, Godmanstone
This diminutive one-time pub stands in the village of Godmanstone in the lovely Cerne Valley with its rippling stream that flows behind the pub. It is a flint and thatch building with a single bar just 15 feet by 11 foot 9 inches and a ceiling that is barely 6 feet high.
What is even more quirky than its size, is the way it is said to have become a pub! The building actually dates originally from 1420 and was as you have probably guessed, a Smithy. The story goes that King Charles II stopped here to have his horse shod, and asked for a drink of porter while he waited. The Smithy duly replied that he was unable to serve him because had no licence, whereupon the king immediately granted him one under Royal Charter. Thus it became a hostelry as well as a smithy.
It was run as a pub for many years by a brewery and was then sold, becoming a free house. This continued until just a few years ago when the last owner, a top jockey, became too ill to run it and it closed its doors for the last time.
I’m happy to say that I have had a drink in the bar here some years ago whilst it was still open. It was an interesting experience 🙂 ! In fact I only discovered that it had closed down when I was walking the valley a few years ago and decided that I would call in for lunch……..only to find that it was no longer open!
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Your friend The Dorset Rambler
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Thanks for sharing – such a great tale. I’ve been in tiny pubs like that in Ireland. Always fun to squeeze into 😉 Loving your blog as it is fuelling my desire to move to Dorset! 😉
Thanks so much Hilary, glad you are enjoying my blog.
Spent many hours in the Smiths Arms being hosted by uncle Fred Page who lived in the village and being a bachelor, didn’t cook much. John, the ex-jockey publican would offer me half a pint of wine instead of the measly glass you get now, and after a delicious home cooked main meal, would ask if we wanted Gattox for dessert. We also stayed next door in the Mill Barn, very sympathetically restored, and paddled in the millstream. Heavenly days.
Thanks Karen, fascinating story. Must have been a great place to wile away an hour or two back then.
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