Dorset pub stroll
St Peter’s Finger, Dorchester Road, Lytchett Minster, Poole BH16 6JE, 01202 622275
Published in September ’08
The first thing that strikes you about St Peter’s Finger, even before you go inside, is its unusual name. Written on the wall of the pub by the entrance from the car park is an explanation: that according to legend St Peter caught a fish with a gold coin in its mouth, that a thief is said to have a fish hook on his finger and that the inn was formerly a den of thieves.
Hmm. Maybe. A more likely explanation is that it is a corruption of ‘St Peter ad Vincula’, which in Latin means ‘St Peter in chains'; the saint is often depicted as a prisoner. A number of pub names come from foreign languages, changed into terms which the native population could understand, ‘Elephant and Castle’ for ‘Infanta of Castile’ being the most famous one. The Chapel Royal in the Tower of London is dedicated to St Peter ad Vincula, as are parish churches in Essex and Oxfordshire.
The unusual name is a selling-point for the pub but really it doesn’t need it because once you are inside, it sells itself. The building doesn’t look very old, but it seems old inside because it is divided into lots of quite small spaces so wherever you sit, it feels cosy and intimate. It is amazing to realise that there are 125 covers (and a further 24 tables outside) because it simply doesn’t seem that big.
The clientele at lunchtime is often business people from Upton, Holton Heath and Creekmoor, plus people who have found that it is a ‘destination pub’ worth travelling for. In the evenings there is a regular local trade with a quiz night every Tuesday, and an MG enthusiasts’ club meets here every month . In holiday times, the two nearby camping and caravan sites swell the numbers.
The décor is in keeping with the more traditional layout of the inside. There are hundreds of interesting pictures on the walls, plus the bons mots which are a feature of Hall & Woodhouse pubs and which provide gentle amusement and a topic for conversation.
The menu changes fairly regularly and there is always a specials board, but you can expect to find ten or so starters and perhaps as many as twenty mains. The usual pub staples are well cooked and presented, as are one or two unusual items such as stuffed aubergine or goat’s cheese and roast tomato linguini. Sandwiches and baguettes are served at lunchtime. The draught beers are the Hall & Woodhouse range: Badger, Badger Best, Tanglefoot and a seasonal beer. Without drinks, two courses might set you back an average of £15.
There is a ramp up to a special disabled entrance, and there is a disabled lavatory.
This stroll of just under two miles is on lanes, but they are fairly peaceful, except perhaps at the start and end of the school day. Walk carefully, facing any oncoming traffic.
Directly opposite the front of the pub is a road with derestriction signs. Walk up this and pass Post Green. This is the home of the Post Green Community, founded by Sir Tom Lees and his late wife, Faith, to offer mutual support, prayer and religious study and to deal with the stresses of modern life.
The road bends to the right after Post Green and passes the back entrance to Lytchett Minster Upper School. This is centred around South Lytchett Manor, which was the home of the Lees family from the mid-19th century, when they moved south after making their fortune in cotton, until they decamped to Post Green in the 1950s.
Bear right again, ignoring the fork to the left signed to Lytchett Matravers. Walk down to the T-junction and turn right. Pass (or call in at) the Courtyard Centre, a collection of a dozen units housing craft-oriented businesses.
Turn right at the T-junction and right again at the next T-junction. Pass the ornate entrance to the caravan park, with the Lees badge of an owl on top. As you walk along the pavement, the area to the left is where a USAF bomber crash-landed in 1942. American engineers built a temporary airstrip and the aircraft was repaired and flew off.
Continue on the pavement through the village and back to the pub.