The Chichester Arms, Mortehoe
PUBLISHED: 14:29 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:56 21 August 2017
Devon Life columnist Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery, takes us on a trawl of some of his favourite pubs. Here’s Patrick’s lowdown on The Chichester Arms in Mortehoe
This month we head north towards the coast to a village that can trace its origins back to the Domesday Book. Just ten miles from Barnstaple as the crow flies or the sea otter swims, after a bracing 25-minute walk up the hill from Woolacombe, the blue-shuttered, low-ceilinged Chichester Arms mercifully appears to the out-of-breath wayfarer like an oasis.
It’s certainly well run – bar manager Fran ably assists landlord and landlady Alex and Julia with Fran’s fiancée Elliot helping head chef Duncan in the kitchen. Alex is a qualified archeologist who was seduced 20 years ago by the charms of the on-trade.
Around him he’s assembled a capable and attentive team led by general manager Katharina that together deliver a very friendly experience. Julia’s cousin was the pub’s previous custodian – the Chichester tradition is that when the time feels right the Inn inevitably passes over to whoever is managing it.
In close proximity to the fast moving waters of the Bristol Channel the building is actually an old vicarage dating back to the 1700s. Sat in the centre of the village it is now a cosy place with an unpretentious and lived in interior – tongue and groove paneling, local photographs on the walls and an eclectic mix of bank notes pinned above the bar all help to set the scene as you walk in.
A little intrigue comes from the hatch and hidden tunnel beneath the carpet that leads into the church next door…perhaps this modern day refuge once fuelled the tired clergy of old with a restorative pint or two.
Today it’s a core of local followers that sing praise to the Chichester and all that it offers. The ‘Friday Night’ club is particularly well versed and passionately support it on all fronts, especially the pool, darts and skittles teams.
The pub’s first beer festival in June went down a storm and occasional themed nights help to pass the quieter months – this is North Devon so let’s have a mid-winter Brazilian night with Samba and cocktails to liven things up!
We opted to sit out the front and watch the world go by – there’s also a small beer garden at the back. This whole area is a much loved tourist destination and holidaymakers come here for a multitude of reasons. Woolacombe boasts a top-drawer, classic sandy beach three miles in length that is extremely popular with families. In fact the entire coastline is a magnet for the energetic and adventurous whether on two legs or four and the Chichester caters for them all.
On a menu mindful of allergies you’ll find home-cooked pub food with a local twist – the traditional Devon ploughman’s happily sits next to a tasty pork and scrumpy burger made exclusively for them by a local butcher. Ex-battery chickens cared for at nearby Borough Farm supply the eggs, fresh crab comes from Philip Dennis of Lundy Fish and meat and poultry are delivered by Crediton-based MC Kelly and Ivan Clarke of neighbouring Mullacott. The specials board offers more adventurous dishes like roasted fillet of cod with lime, chilli and paprika.
Set in a small village away from the crowds this is a pub well worth seeking out and it’s great to see a core of enthusiastic staff doing all the right things…sun, sea, surf and Summer Light – what’s not to love?!
Summer Light, Otter Brewery
Golden Pig, Country Life Brewery
North Coast IPA, GT Ales
Address: Chapel Hill, Mortehoe, EX34 7DU
Tel: 01271 870 411