Bruton is a small village in Somerset. Much has been written about this village only 2 hr 21 min or 117.9 miles from London via the M3 and A303, (according to Google Maps). It is the new “Notting Hill”, cue romcom of the same name. Where is dishy British actor Hugh Grant? In fact, Bruton is not the new Notting Hill.
It is now the new “Stoke Newington” (or “Stokey” to its inhabitants). According to a recent article in listings magazine Time Out: “Bruton is a bit like an abridged Stoke Newington with better air quality. In the last few years, the tiny former market town has become an unexpectedly cool spot to escape to, thanks to an influx of art galleries, fancy shops, hip places to eat, and quirky places to stay.”
Some of the locals disagree. I had a chance to catch up with them (virtually of course) to find out the truth. Has Bruton been totally gentrified? Has it been totally overrun with people from Notting Hill and Stoke Newington?
Emma Donovan, owner of soap and handicraft maker Bath&Still says: “Bruton is well known for its glamourous attractions, currently drawing visitors from around the world. But scratch the surface and you’ll find an equally inviting world of quirky and unique shops, artisan makers, and enchanting natural wonders.
Photo credit: Bath&Still gift box
“Travel a little further down the High Street and enjoy superb coffee and bagels from a riverside trailer, or buy a picnic at the Tardis-like Wholefood shop. In addition to its obvious bucolic pleasures, take the trail to the enchanting (and some say magic) Ladywell, discover the ancient oak tree where generations have left secret offerings, or climb the hill to the site of an ancient pagan temple. Bruton has so much to offer that you won’t find in the guidebooks but are there to find for a curious visitor looking to discover more.”
Local artist Selina Ogilvy shares her own thoughts of what is good to see and do in Bruton.
“If I were to take a tour of Bruton my first pit stop would be Asterix’s Cafe behind Budgens in the grounds of Mill on the Brue. He serves bagels from Brick Lane and fantastic coffee. It is an idyllic spot. There are some lovely footpaths that lead from this side of Bruton if you want a good view of the West. The next stop would be The Hive, their teas are as good as The Ritz. It is run by a lovely couple originally from Essex. Book in advance as it is small and cosy like all great bistros.”
“Zoe’s shop called Swan Vintage is a wonderful cave of delights at very reasonable prices. Every woman should go in there. It is a spontaneous meeting point for catch-ups. Zoe has expert, honest advice and knows her stuff. Many happy customers exit with brightly coloured paper bags full of bargains. It is housed in Bruton’s former Post Office building.
Photo credit: Zoe Ford, Swan Vintage Clothing
More eating places…
“I would then head across the road to eat at Akbar’s Persian food served in the Sun Inn. The left-hand door is the side for the fireplace and quiet, the right-hand door is for Sky Sports and the pool table. The beer garden is very charming, and you could exit through there to escape the high street.
“Next stop would be a load of fresh bread from the Chapel, a gift for a friend from [lifestyle store] Caro. Also, the tiny Bruton Museum for excellent displays of local history and fascinating paraphernalia.”
A fishy tale…
“A short walk from there, under the railway bridge and through allotments takes you to Hauser & Wirth. Or turn right to head up to the Dovecote for a great view and many more walks. Community, history, and diversity are in Bruton more than people realise. You won’t get homesick for the city.”
Photo credit: Emma Lewis, Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset
If you want to know more about the “grassroots” or alternative Bruton, visit the Facebook page ‘One Plant Bruton.’ The community-focused Bruton page showcases everything from where to go on a bike trail to going out to a Northern Soul evening (the Unionist Club, of course).