Think of a country Somerset town and usually a sleepy golden hamlet springs to mind, but in the past seven years rural Bruton has garnered a lively, artsy reputation. When international art house Hauser & Wirth chose the village for its next multipurpose gallery it shone a spotlight on Bruton, inspiring an influx of artists and boho Londoners, seduced by the quaint architecture and slower pace of life. Refined independent shops and boutiques are snuggled into its narrow, mellow, sand-coloured high street but are never far from the historic St. Mary’s church. There’s also a bustling restaurant scene that seems to encapsulate these different sides to Bruton, where chefs thrive off this burst of creativity but also tend to follow the local, rural, seasonal calendar.
This Michelin star restaurant makes the most of being in the heart of the Somerset countryside, carefully sourcing ingredients from their garden and local farms to create their signature ‘farm-to-table’ dishes. In the evening there’s no menu to agonize over, they simply ask you to relax and trust in chef Merlin Labron-Johnson, who aims to surprise with an exciting succession of six unusual and unpretentious courses.
Housed in a former chapel (pictured above) this restaurant has a lofty, bright, convivial space at its centre, honouring its history of communal gatherings by also housing a bakery, eight sophisticated bedrooms and even a wine shop. Favourites seem to be their freshly baked pastries and the sourdough pizzas wood-fired in their on-site oven, but don’t overlook their cocktails either.
Hauser & Wirth
Hauser & Wirth are known for their gallery spaces in London and Los Angeles, but in 2014 cast their eye over Bruton, transforming a collection of derelict farm buildings into stunning gallery space. Lovingly restored, the 17th century Durslade Farm also plays host to an education centre, landscaped garden and the Roth Bar & Grill, which specialises in home cured meats, fire pit cook-outs and homemade cordials.
Durslade Farm Shop
After you’ve explored Hauser & Wirth’s gallery and garden, wander into Durslade Farm shop, the neatly adjoining community hub and market. Shelves are abundant with seasonal fruit and vegetables and also freshly foraged ingredients. Durslade Farm Shop proudly promotes the community’s home-grown produce, stocking homemade artisan products and the food of local growers, like unique jams, breads and fresh cheeses.
Perhaps known nationally as the stop for Glastonbury festival, Castle Cary is a market town with a cluster of eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings, less than a 15-minute drive from Bruton. There’s plenty of quiet footpaths in and beyond Castle Cary for views of Glastonbury Tor, the Levels, the town itself and the rippling countryside beyond.