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The Compton Arms, N1

4 Compton Avenue
N1 2XD
Phone: 02073596883

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Pub Type

Greene King

Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about The Compton Arms

14th February 2018:

I first came here in August 1988 - it was the last time I bought my dad a pint, though the first time was at the former King's Arms a few hundred yards from here about 20 minutes earlier.
Named after the Marquis of Northampton's family, this is a pleasant little out-of-the-way place dating back to at least the late 19th century but rebuilt as a result of bombing in 1944, and now very much a male locals' pub. It was also George Orwell's pub when he lived in Canonbury Square and is rumoured to be the inspiration for his Moon Under Water (TV wasn't available then). The interior is fairly traditional - a bit like a village pub - with some bare beams, a low ceiling, bulls-eye glass, partly bare boarded and dark wood; furniture is in keeping with the interior. There's a carpeted lowered area to the right though the men's lav opens directly onto it which noshers may find off-putting. On the end wall there's a big TV and opposite a smaller one, catering for fans of the local league football club located a mile or so from here. There's a bijou carpeted snug of sorts to the rear which makes for a nice little den if you gather your mates round. Out back, there's a small partially covered garden, handy for fine weather and smokers. There's hot food but it's of the baguettes/burgers/fish, pie and mash or chips looking tasty enough and at reasonable prices which belies the Canonbury location.
A Greene King pub but the ale - typically five - is better than the brand would suggest so it's typically IPA, Abbot, Compton Arms Bitter (probably GK) and a couple of guests. This is a decent, traditional little find and is much appreciated if you fancy a break from the noise and glare of typical pubs along the Upper Street strip but avoid on match days. Lavs are basic too.


Reopened after a short period of closure and now sporting a simple, tasteful colour scheme shorn of its Greene King livery. Inside, and the changes are subtle too. The 'village pub' appearance remains but it has been cleaned up a bit with the woodchip wallpaper removed. The walls are white but the wainscoting and other wooden elements are now painted in a very dark chocolate brown. There's a new wood floor throughout too, where once there was a mix of patterned carpet and dark boards. The walls have contemporary sconce lights with filament bulbs but the bar and pot shelf are new; furniture is new and fairly traditional. The ceiling beams are still - wrongly - painted black; a lost opportunity to sandblast them back to their original bare wood.
The barman was friendly and the choice of ales is now superior with Adnam's Broadside along with Purity's Gold, Mad Goose and Pure Ubu.
Some will complain that this pub (rebuilt after World War II) has lost some of its charm while others will say it's now more attractive. Either way, I think it will now appeal to a younger client base as well as women. I for one would no be more inclined to return, not least because of the improved ale choice.

On 23rd August 2018 - rating: 8
[User has posted 912 recommendations about 899 pubs]

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moby duck left this review about The Compton Arms

The Compton Arms is hidden away down a side street,a basic one roomed boozer, simply decorated with wood paneling all around the top portion of the walls and ceiling are painted in a cream colour, there are some pump clips on the overhead beams to give you an idea of past beers. It is Greene King owned and thankfully there is a guest ale policy in place, five handpumps all working with the choice of GK IPA and Abbot, Compton Ale (no doubt some re-badged nonsense), St Peters Ruby Red Mild and Blacksheep Pathmaker Pale, I tried the latter and it was in fair shape. There is a beer garden but it was "closed for maintenence " on my visit. A nice enough pub and worth a look.

On 18th September 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1257 recommendations about 1245 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pub SignMan left this review about The Compton Arms

Tucked away down a quiet back street that makes it easy to forget just how close you are to the bustle of Upper Street, this is a quaint local's boozer with something of a stripped-out feel to it. You enter into the bare boarded bar area with the dark wood servery directly opposite the front door. The main room is wide but quite shallow, so that there is only space for bar stools and a ledge under the front windows in the area opposite and to the left of the bar. The room opens out slightly to the right, on a lower level, with carpet and a mix of standard tables and chairs and a few low stools. A TV here was turned off but suggested that live sports are normally shown, whilst music was quietly piped through the room instead. The décor consists of lots of black and white photos of the local area and a collection of pump clips along the dark wood ceiling beams. A second room can be found to the rear left - also bare boarded and with some basic perimeter seating and a large mirror on the back wall which gives the impression that the room is much bigger than it really is. Meanwhile, over to the rear right, there is access to a beer garden which I was unable to get a good look at in the darkness. A big stack of board games can be found on the end of the bar counter and I also noticed various magazines and flyers on a shelf, including copies of London Drinker.
The ale range comprised three Greene King brews - IPA, Abbot Ale and Down the Dragon - plus two guests in the shape of Roosters YPA and Truman Runner. The friendly barman, who was heading out for a quick fag when I arrived, made his way back to the bar to pour me a pint of the YPA, but I have to say it wasn't in particularly good shape.
I had mixed feelings about this place as I felt the interior lacked the character I would expect to find in such a nice, historic building and the beer was pretty ropey as well. Having said that, the service was good, it offers an oasis of calm from the surrounding area and there was a welcoming, inclusive vibe. It's probably worth a second look and the fact that it's so handy for nearby venues such as the Union Chapel, Islington Assembly Hall and Highbury Garage means I will doubtless be back at some point.

On 12th July 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2307 recommendations about 2307 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Compton Arms

Famously like a village pub that has somehow ended up in a London back street. Cosy bar along the short frontage, with part down a couple of steps at one end, plus another small room at the back at the other. Friendly atmosphere. As a Greene King house, Abbot and IPA are the regular offerings, with the seasonal Belhaven Golden Bay (£4.00) plus Wadworth St George's and Dr Hexter's Healer available as guests on this visit. Worth seeking out, especially if you are on the way to the Union Chapel or The Garage for a gig.

On 10th May 2015 - rating: 7
[User has posted 5639 recommendations about 5639 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Compton Arms

Being a Greene King house I wasn’t surprised to see Abbot and GKIPA available, but they also had on something called Merlin’s Oak as well as Timothy Taylor Landlord. There’s a few stools at the bar plus a few more at the window ledge, and there are a couple of settles in a small carpeted area down a couple of steps on the right. The wooden beams are still a prominent feature, now bearing snippets of information about the Earls of Compton – such as the fact that the Earldom was created in 1618. Not many people know that.

Food was advertised on the Monday lunchtime I was in. A chalkboard advertised homemade burgers and soup. Clipboard menus were lying around, featuring £5 lunches on Mon – Fri with meals that seemed OK, such as the aforementioned burgers.

I reckon that this is a cracking little backstreet pub. I was in when it wasn’t particularly busy, which may well have coloured my judgement to some extent, and I can well believe it becomes less enjoyable when it’s packed. But, taking it as I found it, I liked it a lot.

On 19th November 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2513 recommendations about 2431 pubs]

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Alan Winfield left this review about The Compton Arms

The Compton Arms is a decent looking pub in a quiet area just off upper street.
This is a Greene King tied house and what i could see of the pub inside looked fairly nice but it was that busy i struggled to get to the bar and once i had a drink i went outside to the front of the pub to get some air,i had a drink of GK IPA which was not bad for that drink i dont know what other beers were on here.

On 6th February 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 6113 recommendations about 6113 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Compton Arms

Probably the most visually appealing of all the pubs in the immediate area with a village feel to it although being a Greene King pub takes off a bit of the gloss. The quaint interior is fairly compact and navigating around the bar can be a bit of an ordeal when it is busy (and the pub usually is). The walls have several interesting old photos of the area (spot the Hope & Anchor in its previous guise as Rackstraws) and a selection of pump clips from the various guest ales. The low beams have plenty of slogans bigging up Greene King which may cause a few ripples among the breweries many detractors. Finding a seat can be tricky. There is a small room to the rear that looks twice the size thanks to a large mirror on the rear wall a but you will inevitably find yourself in the small decked, partly covered patio garden if you need any space. There are generally 2 standard Greene King Ales (IPA and Abbott) plus a seasonal Greene King (currently Royal London) and a “proper” guest (currently Everards Tiger). The major downside is the exorbitant prices. The guest ale last night cost a whopping £3.50 a pint (a Greene King guest ale at that!) and for that reason alone I can't see myself hanging around in the future which is a shame as I have often made the Compton my default pub for the area. Should I return I think I will be supping my pint very slowly.

On 19th September 2009 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1238 recommendations about 1232 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Compton Arms

This proper pub was a bit of a find in an area full of gastro pubs and trendy bars. It is a Greene King pub and if memory serves me correctly there were three of their ales on along with a guest beer. I had a nice couple of pints of Guinness which were well served by a very amiable barman who was engaging in conversation with all whom approached the bar. There is a TV which shows Sky Sports and it can get very busy when a match is on, but the crowd seemed very jovial and there wasn’t a lager swilling yob in sight.

There is a well kept decked garden out the back which has a few picnic tables and a covered area for us smokers to duck under when it’s raining.

I would recommend this pub to others.

On 11th September 2009 - rating: 8
[User has posted 3458 recommendations about 3437 pubs]

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Malden man left this review about The Compton Arms

Pleasant laid back local hidden away in a quiet back street opposite a more recent development of mews houses with seriously OTT ostentatious entrances. Welcoming and genuinely friendly, I had mixed feelings on arrival having seen the Greene King sign outside however it was pleasing to see a guest (Titanic White Star) on offer, good it was too. A calm comfortable interior with beamed ceilings and mainly open booth type seating plus bar stools. Old photos, brewery diagrams and information about the pubs nomenclator Lord Compton, who apparently died of a fit caused by bathing in the Thames after dinner. A decked garden area outside completes the picture.
The plasma was showing Wales' WC qualifier but with the volume at a low level.

On 7th September 2008 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1681 recommendations about 1658 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Compton Arms

A rather nice backstreet local which could be a million miles away from its location in Zone 2. A fair range of beer was available (it's a Greedy King tied house) and I do recall them having a seasonal and a guest, which for GK pubs is always quite impressive. The beer was in good nick too, though pricey. Small and atmospheric inside, the only sign of the 21st century was a TV with the football on.

Worth seeking out if in the area.

On 25th June 2008 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3904 recommendations about 3892 pubs]