PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 June 2013
Famous for its schools and historic buildings, such as Sexey's Hospital and the Dovecote, the ancient town of Bruton has always possessed a special charm which continues today in the interesting High Street.
Here the antique shops and eating venues sit alongside a busy Community Office providing help to visitors, while little walkways weave their way through the town and countryside.
Town Councillor Lisa Pickering describes Bruton as ‘unique’.
“We have three major boarding schools, one of which is the state boarding school, so our community is ever changing with the arrival of new pupils each autumn.
“We have a small industrial estate housing, amongst other things, lots of furniture makers, a picture framer and even a bespoke tree house company.
“The High Street has an array of independent shops, restaurants, pubs and B&Bs, all making for a High Street that really does look like no other.
“You can also walk a few minutes in any direction from the High Street and find yourself in glorious countryside with fabulous walks.
“I would recommend walking up to The Dovecote and beyond looking at the marvellous view over the town
“Soon you will also be able to visit the new Hauser Wirth Gallery due to open in 2014 at Durslade Farm, where some of the film Chocolat was filmed.
Mill on the Brue is an award winning family-run centre attracting children from across the UK and around the world.
As well as summer and day camps, the centre runs residential trips for schools, where children can learn about the environment and enjoy lots of challenging activities including a zip wire and an assault course.
Director Matt Rawlingson Plant says: “Children love the freedom we offer them. They learn so much through fun and adventure. We see real changes in them over the period of a few days, their confidence grows and they develop deep friendships.”
Mill on the Brue was started in 1982 by Matt’s parents Tony and Tricia Rawlingson Plant.
Tony died in 2009 and Tricia has recently returned from India having successfully completed a 72km trek across the Himalayas in his memory.
She was one of 20 people who took part in the trek organised by St Margaret’s Hospice in Yeovil. So far the team has raised almost £70,000 for the hospice.
“It was physically very tough, but everyone made it,” says Tricia.
“The people who took part were all lovely and we all supported each other. It was quite an emotional experience, because we all had our own personal reasons for doing the trek and supporting the hospice.”
The group did the trek over six days and Tricia then travelled on to Nepal to visit a Disabled Children’s Centre, which Tricia had previously raised money for.
Tricia is Chairman of Bruton’s Chamber of Commerce and is pleased to see the High Street thriving with its variety of shops.
“It’s changing very rapidly. We’ve got three restaurants, antique shops, nice gift shops, a local butcher, little supermarkets and an organic shop; we are pretty lucky.”
For details on summer and day camps, residential courses and weddings: millonthebrue.co.uk
Historic working mill
Elaine Beedle grew up at historic Gants Mill, which has been in her family since 1949, and now runs it as a wedding venue with her husband Greg.
“We moved back here from London in 2007 with our children to start the wedding business and keep the place going for another generation,” Greg explains.
“Our first wedding was in 2008, and since then we have hosted more than 100. The garden had been established by Elaine’s parents, Brian and Alison, and we have benefited from the idyllic setting.
“We host weddings between the end of April and the beginning of October. This is to get the best from the flowers in the garden.
“We have our own traditional furnished marquee, and couples can get married in the Oak Gazebo. “For weddings under cover we also have a licence for our Garden Room, which is adorned with hanging baskets, as well as a wisteria planted by Elaine’s grandfather Gilbert 50 years ago.”
The garden and historic working mill are open by arrangement to groups. “We are a working sheep farm, and the mill generates hydro-electricity which we sell into the National Grid,” Greg adds.
At 2pm on 11 August the gardens will open to the public in aid of charity under the National Garden Scheme (NGS).
The couple describe Bruton as ‘the friendliest place in Britain’.
”We love living here, and it is wonderful environment in which to raise our children.” gantsmill.co.uk
Expansion for Bruton business
Godminster has been making its award-winning organic vintage cheddar for over 12 years. The company has now expanded its operation in Bruton by opening new offices off Station Road.
Owner Richard Hollingbery says: “We are enjoying a very positive time at Godminster, our cheeses are winning national awards and as a result we are seeing a very healthy increase in sales.
“As a company we are committed to providing local employment opportunities and investing in the future of Bruton, which is why I am delighted to be able to help over such a sensitive issue as car parking and have agreed with Bruton Town Council to provide a lease for free car parking at the site for the next five years.” n