Newest Review: ... the Compasses Inn went up for sale and Joss Ridley, a direct relation of the original founder, bought it, and by 2011 his brother Nelion... more
A Huffer Is To Essex What A Cornish Pasty Is To Cornwall!
The Compasses (Littley Green)
Member Name: Machair1
The Compasses (Littley Green)
Advantages: Delicious food and a lovely location.
Disadvantages: Can get busy at lunchtime.
Most people associate Cornwall with Pasties, but I bet they don't think of Essex and immediately associate it with Huffers! Yet Huffers are to Essex what pasties are to Cornwall, and where better to find them in than The Compasses?- one of the loveliest pubs in the Essex countryside. If you are curious to know what Huffers are read on, and if you want to sample one then leave plenty of room - they are very filling!
A Pub With History!
The Compasses in the village of Littley Green, just a few minutes away from the City of Chelmsford, is a beautiful traditional pub with a wonderful and rich history. It starts right back in 1811 with a gentleman called William Ridley who married a lady called Maria Dixon. She was the daughter of a mill owner from nearly Hartford End, and following their marriage they became the owners of the mill. Many Essex pubs following that time were housed in buildings in what were historically bakeries supplied by the mill, and even today some of them have the original ovens still there. In 1814 Maria gave birth to Thomas Ridley, and the brewery "TD Ridley and Sons" was named after him. Thomas carried on the family business and following his marriage to Lydia Wells, who was from a Chelmsford brewing family, he built his own brewery which was on the bank of the river Chelmer, only a mile or so away from where the Compasses is today.
Ridleys brewery expanded, and by the time Thomas passed away in 1882 it had many Essex pubs to its credit, and their hallmark was to supply beer in wooden casks. This continued for over a hundred years, but in 2005 the family sold the brewery, and also by then its 73 pubs to Greene King, and the historic brewery closed. However in 2008 the Compasses Inn went up for sale and Joss Ridley, a direct relation of the original founder, bought it, and by 2011 his brother Nelion had started brewing again. So here we have a pub steeped in history that has returned to its routes of yore and I can tell you the place is magical.
A Lovely Location.
Just the drive to it is a treat. Nestled in the Essex countryside, but so close to the city, this pub is reached by beautiful lanes that in summer look gorgeous as they are bordered by fields. These grow up either side and frame the drive with stunning views. The pub itself is beautifully decorated in hunter green and white outside with lovely fresh hanging baskets, and offers a warm welcome to all who enter - I love it!
You won't find football on wide screens here, but you may be treated to live music on Monday nights when "bring your instrument along" occurs, but the rest of the time it is a simple understated place to unwind, meet friends, enjoy the crackle of the fire, and what I love - take your dog, as dogs are welcome all over the pub with no restrictions. You can play darts or snooker but it's all low key, most come to relax or to refuel after a long walk in the countryside.
The inside of the pub is actually quite small, but extends either side of the bar as the pub is long width ways rather than length ways. The bar is inviting and friendly, and there is always a smile to greet you. To the right of the bar is the menu board where you can choose from a variety of pub meals that are home cooked and delicious, and all reasonably priced. Centre stage are the Huffers!- yes your wait is over let's look at these wonderful plates of sustenance!
The Huffer- Not For The Carb Counter!
A Huffer was, in days gone by, about half a loaf of bread that Essex farmers would take with them when they left to work in the fields for the day. These Huffers would be stuffed full with lots of fillings, and today these can be enjoyed in the pub as living reminders of a tradition long gone by. Today these Huffers are essentially giant baps that are shaped as triangles, and when you have eaten one of these you are going to be stuffed for the rest of the day- make no mistake these are enormous, and you can have them filled with anything on the menu board from cheese and pickle to roasted vegetables, or various fillings - all locally sourced. When my son comes home from university we love to take him over there for a Huffer- he is well over 6 feet tall and easily accepts the challenge as a change from student food!
Of course you don't have to have a Huffer there are always choices that include "Beer Battered Cod" - I haven't sampled these as being vegetarian they are off limits, but they are frequently ordered and friends I know tell me they are superb. Meal prices range form £4 to £16 with everything in between, and there are daily specials that are ever changing and some delicious desserts too! Service is always first class and always timely and with a smile.
At the weekend the pub gets busy especially at lunchtime on Saturday, as food is served between midday and half two. There is food again in the evening, and on Sunday food is served for longer hours. I like to go in the week, as it is slightly less crowded, but I do go on Saturdays, and in this case I will go early or late to avoid the rush. Of course in the summer the pub has a lovely garden to enjoy, but winter is slightly more tricky if you go at peak times.
The pub has recently extended into providing top quality accommodation in the five rooms they have, and reading on trip adviser these have an excellent reputation, and visitors are delighted with the standard of the rooms and the service they have received. Obviously I can't comment on this, as living nearby I don't need to use the rooms, but I am sure they are right because everything about the place is positive in my opinion.
For ale lovers you could just think you had woken up in heaven, as the pub has a cellar which is temperature controlled, so pints are pulled straight from the barrels. There is always a good choice of ever changing locally brewed ales, as well as Bishop Nick - brewed by Nelion!
The pub has been awarded "Essex Pub Of The Year" again for the second year running, and it is no surprise to me that this is the case. It is a traditional Essex pub that is situated in a beautiful location with a history that dates back to a time when life was considerably quieter, and electronics were only a vision- and as for the Huffer- it's fantastic - a carb filled giant that reminds us all of long days out in the fields. Highly recommended.
This review will also be posted on Ciao with photographs under my user name Machair1.
Details from the website:
The Compasses Inn
Telephone: 01245 362308
Mon - Wed 12:00 - 15:00 & 17:30 - 23:30
Thu - Sun 12:00 - 23:30
Mon - Fri 12:00 - 14:30 & 19:00 - 21:30
Sat 12:00 - 16:00 & 19:00 - 21.30
Sun 12:00 - 17:00 & 19:00 - 21.30
They also say
"Being a pub, we do not take bookings for food unless you are in a group of 6 or more. Please contact us by phone or email and we will be happy to help you with your enquiry.
We are located 15mins from Chelmsford and 20mins from Stansted Airport and have ample car parking"
Summary: A brilliant Essex pub!
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