A week after moving to Woolacombe North Devon, our first visitor arrived for the weekend. As well as going surfing we all had an early evening drink on Saturday and Sunday lunch at the Chichester Arms. The pub was full but luckily one table had almost finished and we managed to get a place. There was a convivial atmosphere and many locals had gathered to watch the Six Nations. On a more recent Sunday visit there was again a good atmosphere (and it was not quite as crowded as the previous time).
View towards Morte point on way to pub, copyright H. Winlow March 2013
The Chichester Arms, as with a number of places in the local area, takes its name from the Chichester family who used to own the land around Morte Point and further inland towards Barnstaple. The National Trust notes that "Morte Point was originally owned by the Chichester family, who spent happy summers on Woolacombe beach. In 1908, Miss Chichester gave the tip of Morte Point to us in memory of her mother and father. In 1949 the rest of the point, land around Woolacombe and the family home at Arlington Court were also gifted to us."
You can get to the pub by car or you may choose to work up an appetite by walking up the steep hill from Woolacombe and taking in some impressive sea and coastal views on the way. You will see the pub on the left hand side of the main road as you get into Mortehoe village from Woolacombe. A visit to the pub could also be combined with a walk to Morte Point.
The building is a former 16th century vicarage and is located next to the Parish Church of St. Mary. Inside it is quite traditional in style, with wood panelling, several tables with comfy bench seating, as well as standard tables. The walls are adorned with historical photos from the area, and some maps. There is a long traditional bar. Light streams in through the large windows on a sunny day.
The pub is open year round and it usually has three or four real ales on tap, as well as lager and cider. Ales are from the south-west region (e.g. St Austell, Old Appledore, Dartmoor) and occasionally a special guest ale is featured. For example, the tasty Ruck and Roll was recently featured for the Six Nations. Food is served at lunchtime and in the evening. The evening menu features 10-12 mains reasonably priced between £9 and £12.
Sunday lunch is served 12-2.30 throughout the year. There are no seasonal opening hours here as with some other pubs in the area. There are just a few specific Sunday lunch options but these have been well thought through, with an emphasis on local sourcing of food. The normal lunch menu is also available.
Locally sourced roast beef served with Yorkshire puds, veg and lots of gravy, copyright H. Winlow March 2013
On our recent visit we both had aberdeen angus roast beef, served with yorkshire pudding, gravy, roast potatoes and a side of vegetables (for £9.75). The beef is sourced from a farm in the local area (pork is also sourced locally). The beef was served in a very generous portion, thinly sliced, and was very tender and tasty. The gravy was also in plentiful supply and I didn't need to ask for an extra jug (which I have done in some other establishments). For dessert we had a lime cheesecake and a slice of apple pie, the latter served with locally produced ice-cream.
For small children a number of standard wood high-chairs are available. Toilet space is limited but a changing facility has been squeezed into the ladies. Equally importantly all the staff talked to our baby. Additional features include a beer garden, an outdoor seating area at the front, a pool table in the bar area, and a summer room for children.
Long traditional bar serving regional ales, copyright H. Winlow March 2013