Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch visited the Axe and Compasses pub in Arkesden to learn more about the renovation work following a 'devastating' fire.

The pub reopened last year, after the entire roof and first floor were destroyed in a fire in March 2022.

Mrs Badenoch, joined by Cllr Edward Oliver, met owners David and Emma Christou - whose family has run the pub for more than 30 years - and the Green King team.

Saffron Walden Reporter: The devastating fire at the Axe and Compasses in 2022The devastating fire at the Axe and Compasses in 2022 (Image: Saffron Walden Fire Station)

She said: "It was amazing to see how David and Emma have attentively restored and retained the pub’s historic features, whilst also bringing in modern solar panels, a heat pump, and new high-spec Airbnb accommodation as part of the revamp.

"Our village pubs are not just businesses; they are part of our community. The Axe and Compasses, with its rich history, plays a vital role in preserving the cultural heritage of Arkesden and I am so pleased to see it reopened again."

The group discussed the ongoing challenges faced by pubs, particularly following the pandemic, with rising costs and changing customer habits.

The Axe and Compasses benefitted from the Government's Rural Rate Relief scheme, designed to help small businesses in rural communities such as Arkesden.

Emma and David said: "We are thrilled to have been able to oversee the rebuild of our cherished pub and welcome its reopening.

“Our family is proud to have been here for the past 32 years and the support from customers old and new has been outstanding.

“We can now look forward to many more happy years at the Axe and Compasses."


In the fire in 2022, the 17th-century building's thatched roof, first floor and rear side collapsed, and 150 pre-prepared Mother's Day meals were lost.

Ten fire crews from Essex and Hertfordshire were called to the blaze.

Members of the community helped remove furniture and other valuable items, storing the contents of the pub in their gardens and garages.

During the revamp, the pub's historic chimney was removed and rebuilt brick by brick, and the owners discovered the original brick flooring in the bar, old fireplaces and oak beams.