THE COUNTRY INN BY THE SEA
The Bankes Arms Inn is popular all year round with young and old alike, whether you like the countryside, the coast or indeed both.
In the spring and summer you can enjoy a drink in the spacious pub garden with its views over the sea, where children can play in safety. It’s just a stone’s throw from South Beach and so is perfect for a spot of dinner after a day spent swimming and building sandcastles; the pub offers freshly prepared salads and locally caught fish specials as well as a kid’s menu for smaller appetites. Refreshing spritzers, jugs of Pimms, sparking ciders and ice cold lagers are the order of the day and we’ll undoubtedly have a few summer ales on offer too.
During autumn and winter, to pub is an ideal starting point for some fabulous walks to blow the cobwebs away. Whether you explore along the clifftops to Old Harry Rocks, venture down to the beaches or trek inland to Agglestone Rock, there is always something new to see. Perfect for dog walkers, we welcome your well-behaved pets in the pub and garden throughout the year.
Our two open fires are constantly blazing during the winter and our candle-lit tables offer a warm, inviting snugness to keep the chill at bay. We’ll often have mulled wine or cider ready to warm your cockles and a seasonal porter and winter ale amongst our nine draught beers.
The pub is an ideal base to explore what Purbeck has to offer; check out the surrounding area on our EXPLORE page.
A Pub with a Rich History
Reputedly dating back to 1549, The Bankes Arms Inn has had a long and colourful history. Situated in an estate owned by the Bankes family (who also owned Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacey), the pub was originally named the New Inn and from 1827 was under the stewardship of local farmer George Damon. In 1844 William Lawrence took over the tenancy and the pub was renamed the Wellington Arms (many returning soldiers set up public houses with the money they received when leaving the army which is why so many pubs share this name).
Speculation is been rife about Lawrence’s true profession while at the Wellington Arms. Many believe that he was connected with the smuggling trade, which was flourishing while he was landlord. Little Beach (now renamed ‘South Beach’ by the National Trust ) was one of the principal landing places for smuggled goods on the south coast.
In the late nineteenth century the Bankes Arms Inn acquired its present name, after the Bankes family. The pub prospered into the early 1900s under landlord Ernest Harvel, with a good trade serving speciality lobster teas to the yachting fraternity and boasting three tennis courts where the beer garden is now situated.
From 1941 the landlord was retired Sergeant Major Stevens, an ‘upstanding man who sported a waxed moustache’ and and who was ideally placed to deal with the visiting military personnel during the Second World War. In fact, the Studland beaches were used as a training ground in the lead up to the D-Day landings and the Bankes Arms itself was the control base for a major experiment to test the effectiveness of burning oil as a defence against a German seaborne invasion.
Peter and Peggy Salisbury became landlords shortly after the old stables adjacent to the pub were were converted into the Horseshoe Barn the mid-50s. The current landlord Tim Lightbown, a fellow of the British Institute of Inn Keeping, and his wife Jenny took over the licence in 1988.