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Peace and tranquility

PUBLISHED: 09:42 20 October 2013

The beach at Branscombe

The beach at Branscombe

Archant

WORDS: Charlotte Richardson

The peppercorn sauce that accompanied the steak was fabulousThe peppercorn sauce that accompanied the steak was fabulous

Tucked away in a peaceful corner of East Devon is The Masons Arms – 
a haven of tranquility in Southern England

Dating back to 1360, the former cider house lies in the village of Branscombe – an outstandingly pretty area steeped in history.

Perfect for a break away from the hustle and bustle of every day life, the St Austell brewery pub and its accommodation offer good food, good drink and a picturesque environment in which to enjoy them.

The sauce on the mussels was so good I went back for seconds the following eveningThe sauce on the mussels was so good I went back for seconds the following evening

Do not expect to find a phone signal here or an iPad or smart phone in site – this place is all about peace and relaxation.

Branscombe:

A pretty village with narrow lanes and fabulous walks through National Trust land for miles around.

The view from the roomThe view from the room

The village finishes at a shingle beach, Branscombe Mouth, which forms part of the East Devon and Dorset Jurassic Coast.

From here it is a short walk to Beer and a longer walk westwards towards Sidmouth.

There is a working forge in the village, which has an award-winning blacksmith, as well as some other local amenities.

The village is also conveniently located for the town of Lyme Regis in Dorset – a 20 minute drive away.

The front of the cottagesThe front of the cottages

Branscombe is more suited to couples rather than young families as you would be limited with activities for smaller children in the immediate area.

The Masons Arms

History

Dating back to 1360, The Masons Arms was originally a cider house, comprising of only one bar, situated in a row of five cottages.

Today the inn has taken over the row of cottages and the thatched cottages enchantingly set in the garden overlooking the inn.

The buildings have been listed by the Department of the Environment as being of special architectural and historic interest grade II.

The inn is named after the masons that helped to build Exeter Cathedral in the 14th century.

After a hard day, the quarry labourers would drink and socialise in Beer, but the masons instead travelled to what is now The Masons Arms.

The accommodation

Our stay was in a Branscombe Room – cottage 10.

A huge four-poster room overlooking the delightful site of the rolling hills, the room was extremely spacious, but cosy, and maintained the feel of a traditional coaching inn.

The bathroom was also a good size, with the added well-received addition of full-sized toiletries.

There was also a nice seating area within the room – which was a welcome addition on a rainy day.

There were a few extra touches, which made the difference in the room – slippers waiting for us when we returned on the first day, cafetiere coffee, a selection of half a dozen different types of tea and fresh towels daily.

The food

This for me is what sets The Masons Arms against other local inns I have stayed at.

The accommodation was good and cosy – but the food was really good.

It often fails to amaze me when eating out that chefs can neglect to pay attention to a really key ingredient – sauce.

This is not so at The Masons Arms.

My first dish was a starter portion of steamed River Exe mussels in white wine, garlic, cream and parsley sauce – so addicted to the sauce was I that I returned for seconds on our second night.

My partner had the crab fish cakes, which were also very tasty and then we both had juicy rib-eye steak with yet again another fantastic sauce – peppercorn.

Now some people may ask how you can go far wrong with a peppercorn sauce – you can’t really – but alternatively you can get it really right like this.

Plenty of flavour and a nice accompaniment to the nice, crisp, chunky chips.

The food here is traditional – but delicious and the chefs don’t try to be too clever.

The restaurant and bar were both fully booked on the Friday and Saturday we stayed – and it’s no surprise really.

People must come from miles around for the food and atmosphere.

The friendly staff, the beamed ceilings and cosy atmosphere, combined with the high standard of food must draw diners back time and time again.

I must also make a note about breakfast here – again a really high standard of food.

There won’t be any full English slopped on your plate here – as well as a beautifully –presented ‘fry up’ (mostly grilled though) the well-presented dishes include eggs Benedict or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

In conclusion

The Masons Arms in Branscombe is perfect for a couple wanting to get away from the world for a while.

With good food, friendly staff, cosy accommodation and plenty of beautiful walks nearby it’s a great place to spend quality time together.

Branscombe is also well placed for a number of other coastal towns and villages, so a car is practically essential.

Take good shoes – the village is hilly so you’ll need them! n

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