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OUT OF TOWN

A Weekend in Somerset: Bruton and Frome

bruton-street hauser-and-wirth-flowers img_3057Around a two and a half hour drive, west of London is the picturesque English County of Somerset, one of our favourite places to escape for a good blast of country air and some quiet time away from the city. We are lucky to have family in the area so we’re never short of an excuse for a visit. As often as possible, we make the familiar Friday afternoon journey along the A303, slowly crawling past Stonehenge with the sun setting in the distance. As traffic jams go it’s pretty special.

The Somerset landscape consists of vast swathes of open farmland, chalky ridges, undulating hills and valleys and generally stunning scenery at every turn. You’ll also find lots of cosy country pubs serving great food, beautiful walks and quaint little towns to explore. Ive rounded up some highlights from two of our favourite towns in the area.

bruton-post-officeBruton

It might be one of the smallest towns in England but over recent years Bruton has built up quite a reputation amongst London’s hip creative crowd. With fashion models, artists, designers and actors all snapping up homes here, this sleepy little town is fast becoming one of the country’s coolest rural hotspots. This is partly down to the opening of leading international gallery – Hauser and Wirth’s new art complex, housed in a restored 18th Century farmhouse on the outskirts of the town. After opening in 2014, the gallery at Durslade Farm has attracted thousands of art lovers from all over the world, with past exhibitions featuring artists such as Martin Creed and Louise Bourgeois.

We visited Hauser and Wirth on a lovely sunny, autumn afternoon, just perfect for wandering around the stunning gardens designed by renowned Dutch landscape artist Piet Oudolf (one of the masterminds behind New York’s High Line). Pathways snake playfully in and out of the flowers providing excellent hide and seek opportunities and the beautifully landscaped beds in their rich autumnal colours have a sculptural quality at this time of year. At the back of the garden is the spaceship like Radic pavilion by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic which originally served as the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2014.

As our kids made themselves at home on a nearby rock, armed with their sketchpads and pencils, groups of school children were being taught drawing techniques by some of the resident artists inside the pavilion. One of the aims of the gallery is to inspire and educate local school children, young people and families with talks, workshops and screenings. I can’t think of a more idyllic setting to ignite some creativity.

hauser-and-wirth hauser-and-wirth-gardens hauser-and-wirth-kids-sketching sketching-at-hauser-and-wirth hauser-and-wirth-ladybird hauser-and-wirth-pond hauser-and-wirth-sculptureThe gallery also has its own 6 bedroom holiday let Durslade Farmhouse that can be booked for a 2 night minimum stay. There is a good restaurant on site Roth Bar and Grill and a lovely gift shop selling an extensive range of modern art books and Scandinavian inspired homewares. hauser-and-wirth-farmhouse-bedroom hauser-and-wirth-farmhouse-bathroom roth-bar-and-grill hauser-and-wirth-bookshop The town of Bruton itself is a mix of local convenience stores, antique shops, vintage clothes stores, cafes and restaurants. There’s no shortage of great places to eat, the popular At the Chapel Hotel is consistently brimming with diners inside its elegant vaulted dining room and serves up tasty seasonal dishes and wood fired pizzas as well as pastries and breads which can be bought to take away from their bakery.

Then there’s locals favourite Matt’s Kitchen a quirky B.Y.O supper club held inside Matt’s living room. He serves a single dish of the day and a selection of starters and deserts. This place has very limited capacity and is so popular it gets booked up way in advance.

Shopping in Bruton is low key, the high street is small and understated which lends to its charm. We did stumble across a lovely antiques warehouse Alchemy Antiques and stylish Scandinavian lifestyle store Caro which stocks cool brands including Aesop and Hay to name a few.

caro-somerset bruton-high-street bruton-alchemy-antiques-lanterns

To Eat:

Roth Bar & Grill  Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0NL

At the Chapel  High Street Bruton Somerset BA10 0AE

Matts Kitchen –  51 High Street, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0AW

Bean Shot Coffee – The roastery, The old mill, Station road, Bruton, BA10 0EH

To shop:

Alchemy Antiques – West End, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0BQ

Caro – 9 Quaperlake Street, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0HF

To Stay:

Babington House – Babington House, Somerset, BA11 3RW (See Courtney’s review here)

Durslade Farmhouse -Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, Somerset BA10 0NL

At the Chapel – High Street Bruton Somerset BA10 0AE

frome-shops

Frome

The picturesque market town of Frome is much bigger and busier than Bruton. Head for the Catherine Hill Artisan Quarter with its pretty cobblestone street and eclectic mix of shops. You’ll find everything from interior decor, quirky antiques and vintage clothing stores to children’s boutiques, florists and cafes. It’s a lovely quiet area to take a wander and browse. I always make a bee-line for the brilliant Children’s clothing and homeware shop Sisters Guild and further up the hill fair trade textile store World Basket who stock a nice selection of rugs and throws from around the world, including Dhurries, Killims and colourful African Bolga baskets (my favourite).

bolga-baskets world-basket frome-cafe-sign frome-antiques sisters-guildOn the first Sunday of each month between April and December the streets of Frome go car free and a pop up community of artisan producers and makers take over various areas of the town. Rummage through trinket filled suitcases and prams at the “suitcase sale” on top of Catherine Hill, pick up some tasty food direct from local producers at the famers market on Stony Street or bag a vintage bargain from the flea market at The Market Yard. For more details on this unique market check out The Frome independent.

resident-frome bramble-and-wild frome-antiques frome-church

To Eat:

Archangel 1 King Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1BH

Talbot Inn Mells near Frome, Somerset, BA11 3PN

The Garden Cafe  16 Stony St, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BU

To Shop:

World Basket 21, Catherine Hill, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1BZ

Sisters Guild 32 Catherine Hill, Frome, BA11 1BY

Resident 20 Paul Street, Frome, BA11 1DT

Elizabeth Lee Interiors 1 Bath Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1DG

Naismith Robertson 14 Catherine Hill, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1BZ

To Stay :

Talbot Inn Mells near Frome, Somerset, BA11 3PN

Babington House – Babington House, Somerset, BA11 3RW

 

Enjoy!
Kate x


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