Nappers Mite – Café restaurantThursday, April 15th, 2010
Our beautiful county town is not only a great town for shopping, but also has an amazing and historical past! Napper’s Mite is a significant piece of local history – now a café/restaurant, but originally a set of almshouses built in 1616 during the reign of James I. It is located at no 19 South Street, the lower south end of the main pedestrian shopping street in the county market town. This little gem is the oldest building in South Street and one of the oldest still in use in the town. It has links with the novelist Thomas Hardy and with William Barnes, the famous Dorset dialect poet.
The history of Nappers Mite
The Napper or Napier Mite Alms Houses in South Street was established by Sir Robert Napier of Middlemarsh in 1615. Built to house “ten aged men” after a town fire in which 300 houses were destroyed, it was one of many charitable foundations established soon after the great fire of Dorchester in 1613. The fire was said to be seen as a scourge sent from God to chastise the uncharitable population. The building was completed by his grandson, Gerard Napier. Sir Robert Napier was a member of a Scottish family who became the Barons of Murchison, now a suburb of Edinburgh and Crichel in North Dorset remains the home of the descendants of the Napiers. Nappers Mite passed through the Napier family to Napier George Sturt who would become the Third Baron Alington.
Another famous landmark in the town, 6 High West Street (now the restaurant Judge Jeffreys), was built in the early 17th Century and is one of the few timber-framed buildings to survive the disastrous town fire.
At the rear of the Napper’s Mite building there is a small garden and steps which backs on to Charles Street. Although the front of the building was rebuilt in 1842, the Jacobean style can still be recognised in the back elevations with its tall brick chimneys. There is a small courtyard in the centre allowing you to pass through from South Street to Charles Street.
What’s on the menu at Nappers Mite
There are four areas where you can eat with old worlde charm, two inside, a central section in a covered courtyard and a very pleasant garden out back. The small restaurant/wine bar is excellent for morning coffees right through to a full varied lunch menu. Ideal for families, you can choose from a range of light lunchtime snacks such as baguettes, sandwiches and jacket potatoes or, for beverages the Hot Chocolate with Whippy Cream and a Flake is highly recommended.
Latest review of Nappers Mite on Google maps by Diane said “We popped in here for lunch whilst on holiday in October. My husband, 16 month old child and I. Service was excellent and I had the best omelette that I have ever had. Highly recommend.” Do take the time to let us know what you think of Nappers Mite.