Cheese, art, and cider

20 July 2012




JUST inside the Somerset borders in the Mendip Hills, 13 miles south of Bath and 15 miles east of Wells, lies the historic town of Frome.


It is an architecturally fascinating market town, with a thriving arts scene, craft and vintage shops, and a wealth of delicious local cheese to purchase.

Getting there

Frome railway station is served by Bristol to Weymouth trains. It is easily accessible by road on the A361.

What to see

Outside the east end of St John the Baptist's is the elaborate crypt of Thomas Ken, the bishop and nonjuror who wrote "Awake, my soul, and with the sun". Be sure not to miss the seven sculpted scenes of the via crucis built on the slope up to the church in the 19th century. Aficionados of stained glass will enjoy the Burne-Jones windows from the William Morris workshop in Holy Trinity.

Street markets are to be found on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and Frome Cheese and Grain, in the former cattle market, combines local food and craft markets with community events and evening entertainment. The Somerset Farmers' market, which is held there on the second Saturday of each month, has a mouth-watering selection of cheeses, cider, and, surprisingly, water-buffalo meat; the coffee at the on-site café is fairly traded. The Frome Agricultural and Cheese Show is held this year on 8 September, and has a competition for the best cheese-themed rap.

The steep, cobbled street of Catherine Hill is lined with small independent shops that sell everything from vintage clothes and designer jewellery to fashion and flowers. The town is well known for its arts centres, including the Black Swan, which contains galleries, shops, and artist-led workshops. Rook Lane, a Nonconformist chapel built in 1707, now houses an art gallery, and hosts concerts.

If you want to learn more of the town's heritage, then seek out the two display rooms in Frome Museum, with its recreation of a chemist's shop, artefacts from Fussell's Ironworks, and printing presses from Butler & Tanner.

Where to eat and drink

Enjoy a cheese-and-cider-themed picnic by the River Frome, or, if the weather continues to be inclement, find the Garden Café in Stony Street for delicious organic food; it is open daily. The Archangel is a gastro-pub that also has six bedrooms.

Near by

Longleat Safari and Adventure Park is three miles from Frome, and provides a full day of excitement for children. The Italianate Peto garden at Iford Manor, to the north, is in an idyllic valley, and offers cream teas; in the summer it hosts opera in the reconstructed medieval cloister.

Disabled access

Frome streets are steep, and narrow in places, and may prove difficult for a wheelchair user.

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