8 beautiful south Somerset villages you need to visit
PUBLISHED: 12:34 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:34 27 February 2018
We might be biased but we believe Somerset is home to some of the prettiest villages in the country. With glowing ham stone buildings, thatched abodes and stunning stately homes, we pick 8 of the most beautiful in the south of the county
The picture-perfect, glowing ham stone of the cottages and buildings in Montacute has meant the village has made numerous appearances in front of the camera including the 1995 version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. This pretty village has plenty going on: Montacute has a thriving village hall, the medieval St Catherine’s church, a primary school, a post office with amenities available, two pubs and a garage.
Believed to be the only one of its kind in the country, while away an afternoon down memory lane at the Montacute TV Radio Toy Museum, boasting an impressive display of memorabilia from 1920s television and radio right through to the present day.
Don’t miss: On a visit to the village, you can’t miss the impressive gates leading up to ‘the most beautiful Elizabethan house in England’. Montacute House is a staggering mansion of glorious golden ham stone surrounded by glorious gardens. The Phelips family built and owned the House for over 300 years, and it is now in the hands of the National Trust. Ensure you take some time at the Long Gallery which houses over 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.
An impressive landscape of ruins, Muchelney is best known for the remains of the former home of Benedictine monks, Muchelney Abbey. In the 16th century Henry VIII dissolved the monastery and destroyed most of the principal buildings, and now the fascinating ruins and abbots’ house can be admired by visitors - a must for history lovers in the area. Opposite the St Peter and St Paul Parish Church is The Priest’s House: a late Medieval hall-house with a Gothic doorway and grand double-height tracery windows. Looked after by the National trust, the property is now a private home.
Hit by severe flooding in 2014, with the 200 or so residents cut off completely for a month, the church became an improvised food distribution centre with the close-knit community banding together in a time of great distress.
Don’t miss: The picturesque village is also home to John Leach Pottery, whose beautiful pots are sold all over the world. Following the creativity of his father and grandfather, John and his team craft pottery from local clays in the heart of the Somerset Levels. Right next to the Pottery Shop is the John Leach gallery, which hosts a programme of exhibitions throughout the year supporting West Country artists and craftspeople.
Stoke sub Hamdon
Along the A3088 from Yeovil lies the community rich village of Stoke sub Hamdon, with many of its buildings made of beautiful ham stone quarried from nearby Ham Hill Country Park. The residents have plenty planned all year round from local organisations getting together in the village hall to enjoyable events hosted by the Working Men’s Club.
There are a number of places to eat and drink in the village: from the historic Fleur De Lis (one of our favourite dog-friendly pubs in the county) to the Prince of Wales which offers stunning views from its enviable location in Ham Hill Country Park.
Don’t miss: Standing proudly over Stoke-Sub-Hamdon is the staggering War Memorial of Ham Hill Country Park which can be seen from any point in the village. Covering nearly 400 acres, the country park is a welcome landscape for hikers, dog walkers, mountain walkers and those who fancy a picnic in a beautiful location.
Around three miles from the delightful market town of Crewkerne, you’ll stumble across Wayford on the River Axe. The sleepy village is made up of gorgeous cottages and picture-perfect properties, as well as the church of St Michael which dates back to the 13th century.
A few years ago, the fairy doors of the Wayford woods caused a stir when large numbers of visitors descended on the small village to see the handcrafted doors for themselves. At one point there were 200 doors appearing on tree trunks throughout the area.
Don’t miss: There’s isn’t a lot to do in Wayford but there’s something quite lovely in that. Surrounded by miles of scenic rolling greenery, farmland and, of course, the Wayford woods, there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy the beautiful countryside that south of the county has to offer.
Like a lot of its south Somerset counterparts, the streets of South Petherton are lined with gorgeous ham stone buildings, picture-perfect properties and the occasional thatched cottage. The friendly village is home to a number of thriving local businesses and shops, two schools and an award-winning pub and restaurant by the name of The Brewers Arms and The Old Bakehouse.
The David Hall, transformed and achieving its full potential after a Lottery grant, is a fantastic venue for live music attracting audiences from all over the county. The South Petherton Folk Fest will also return this year (Saturday June 16 2018). This family-friendly event will include a line-up of singers and dancers to entertain visitors of all ages.
Don’t miss: The East Lambrook Gardens are a short drive away from the village, and definitely worth a visit whether you’re a green-fingered enthusiast or not. The privately owned gardens were created by the late Margery Fish - celebrated plantswoman and gardening writer - and are particularly revered for the stunning snowdrop display during February and early March.
Steeped in history, Ilchester still retains plenty of character today as it did back in the 12th and 13th centuries when it effectively acted as the county town. During medieval times, the village had at least eight churches of which two remain today: the Church of St Mary Major and Church of St Andrew. The town hall and sports field hosts a number of local activities and events, and is also available to hire.
Whether you’re enjoying dinner, fancy a few jars or want to stay the night, the Ilchester Arms is a delightful spot with a friendly welcome.
Don’t miss: While in Iclhester, it would be rude not to pick up a selection of cheeses carefully crafted by the Ilchester Cheese Company, based in the village. We particularly like the AppleWood Cheddar, a traditional farmhouse cheddar with a delicate smoky flavour and smooth texture.
Although small in size, Corton Denham is certainly not lacking in character. With modern amenities available in the nearby towns of Sherborne and Yeovil, the village’s tight-knit community ensures that there’s plenty going on in Corton Denham itself all year round. Weekly services take place at St Andrew’s Church, a building dating back to 1869 boasting beautiful stained glass windows commissioned by Jeanne-Baptiste Capronnier.
The award-winning Queens Arms is the perfect place to rest your weary legs after exploring the village’s surrounding countryside. The pub proudly serves a menu of inventive dishes using locally sourced and reared produce as well as an extensive drinks menu. If you love gin, we recommend trying the gin gliders which lets you sample three of the pub’s impressive gin selection.
Don’t miss: Nestled in the heart of the village, Corton Denham House is an attractive Georgian rectory sitting on five acres of glorious, landscaped gardens. Extensively redesigned and replanted over the years, the gardens are open to visiting groups of 10 to 30. Corton Denham’s Stable Cottage is also available for holiday lets.
Gorgeous ham stone thatched cottages adorn the small village of Barrington, nestled on the southern edge of the Somerset Levels. Expect to find the 13th century St Mary’s Church with its unusual octagonal tower which has now been designated by the English Heritage as a Grade I listed building.
There’s also a village hall, a place to pick up home grown vegetables and other local produce and a pub. The Barrington Boar, sitting in the heart of the village, provides generous portions of hearty pub fare and a good range of well-kept local ales. This archetypal village pub extends a warm welcome for newcomers, as well as their loyal locals, and visitors can be assured of a lovely atmosphere.
Don’t miss: Pay a visit to the National Trust owned Barrington Court, a Tudor mansion which was beautifully restored by Colonel Lyle, whose family firm became part of the Tate & Lyle, in the 1920s. The manor house remains empty allowing for visitors’ imaginations to run wild while the inspiring surrounding gardens provide the perfect backdrop for a leisurely stroll.