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3, High Street
Packed full of historical features, the current owners of this 7-bed property explain how it gives you the option to work from home, raise a family
and enjoy a garden sanctuary in the middle of a vibrant, fashionable Somerset town
The garden at 3 High Street, Bruton, a large family home with plenty of business potential too
Can you describe how you felt when you first viewed this house?
Absolutely! It was a bright and very cold day in January 1999. We were looking to buy the pharmacy business that was run here up to recently, but we also wanted a home for us and our two teenage sons. What we found was quite amazing! We came in through the hall and remember being excited by all the different features of the house as we were shown round, for example, the courtyard and its Tudor building which were totally unexpected. When we discovered the walled garden and the large building at the bottom of the garden (described as garaging for two cars) we wondered who they belonged to and couldn't believe it when we were told it was all included! It was an exciting venture for us, buying and taking over an existing business, moving to Bruton with two boys 14 and 16 and it didn't disappoint. Living here has provided us with a livelihood and a fantastic family home in a vibrant community.
Which are your favourite rooms?
Andy’s study is light, warm and sunny and overlooks the garden - it's a quiet retreat from the rest of the house. We also like the first floor, open-plan area in the coach house which has a very interesting design, with a feature window overlooking the garden. There is lovely lighting in there, especially in the evening.
The Coach House is light and airy and overlooks the garden
The outside space is one of the hidden gems about this property - being able to find peace and calm right on the high street..
That's right. We actually built the summerhouse about four years ago and it's become a real escape. We also redesigned the courtyard to include the fish pond and create a really private open air socialising area that's beautifully cool on very hot summer evenings. The garden is a private sheltered area, good for children to run around in and is well planted and managed to provide year-round colour. It's truly an oasis of calm, especially appreciated in the middle of a town.
The courtyard at 3, High Street, Bruton makes for a great entertaining space
You mentioned that the house has an amazing historical background - can you explain more?
Yes and we've found mentions of the house's archaeological details in books like “Traditional Houses of Somerset” by Jane Penoyre, and “Bruton, an intimate urban ideal – a survey past and present.”
Here are just a few of them...
- As far as we can tell, the earliest archaeological features date the building to the mid 15thcentury and we have copies of ownership records dated from the mid 17thcentury which are almost complete to date.
- There is a 11/12thcentury archway into the garden which likely came from Bruton Abbey.
- Two of the great families of Bruton ( Dampiers and Ludwells) have lived here – if you find Dampiers treasure you can keep it and in fact you can still see Henry Dampier's centuries-old 'graffiti' - his name - written on a piece of glass.
- The property was known as “formerly Roper’s tenement” in the 17thcentury, and since then there have been silk workers, apothecaries, tea merchants, a Dentist, and the premises were registered as a Pharmacy in 1820.
- The small shed in the garden was used as a pigsty in the war, and Army Engineers used the Coach House.
- There is also an old Victorian range hidden behind a wall in the dining room and an old bread oven in the kitchen.
- 200 years ago it was a Gentleman’s residence, but since 1799 it has also been a business location.
- You can still see carpenters' marks on the Tudor building.
The house dates back centuries
So interesting! Of course living here isn't just about looking after a museum piece though, what does 21st Century Bruton have to offer?
Such a lot. For a start, the central location of the property on the High Street is very convenient. It's possible to walk to most social events in Bruton, and there are currently five restaurants, three takeaways and two pubs serving food. The town has excellent services, including a doctor's surgery, an excellent pharmacy (relocated down the high street) a dental practice and a physiotherapist, a Post Office (with banking facilities) a community-run library, four convenience food stores, and a host of other various shops. Bruton has some of the best schools in the county including Kings Bruton and All Hallows both of our boys did well at Sexey’s school, which is state-run. The town is a mixture of people from different backgrounds - there are longstanding local families and people who have moved to Bruton bringing a wealth of experience and different skills. It is an outstanding vibrant local community, which holds pride in the town. I love when you walk down the High Street someone will always hello or good morning! And when you want some country life, there are lots of walks that head out from Bruton and a series of 20 local walks have been published. Stourhead, a leading National Trust House and Garden is also a go to favourite place.
The front of 3, High Street Bruton which has two front rooms that can be used as a business if required - it used to be a pharmacy
Somerset is renowned for delicious local produce - is Bruton for foodie-lovers too?
Yes - there are plenty of great places to eat and drink like At The Chapel and the newly-opened Bruton Table and we would recommend all of them, including the Shepton Montague Inn, and The Bull, Hardway. There is a wealth of good local produce available in the local shops and a number of internationally acclaimed cheesemakers in and around Bruton like Godminster Cheese. There is a fish seller on Fridays and farm shops nearby.
How easy is it to get to London, Bath or Frome from here?
No trouble at all, Bruton has easy access to Bath and Bristol, Wells, and two coasts (West or South). The railway station has trains to Bristol, Bath, Weymouth and London, and the Berry’s bus goes to London from Wincanton.
Back to the house...what's your favourite memory of living here?
We've loved hosting significant family events and some memorable parties here too. There are locally organized 'Safari' suppers and we have anjoyed entertaining at dinner parties, and staff Christmas parties. We have just generally enjoyed living in this place, enjoying family times in the house and coach house. It is lovely sometimes when we are sitting in the summerhouse in the evening to watch the swallows and bats in the garden.
The summerhouse is the perfect place to spend Summer evenings
What do you hope for the next owners of this house?
That they understand the continuity and responsibility of owning a historic building in a historic town, and that they enjoy the rich social and cultural life of Bruton. It is an amazing place to live!
To book a viewing at 3, The High Street, please call our Bruton office on 01749 605099 or click here for more info and other houses for sale in Bruton, Wells and Somerset.
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Made in Somerset!
Fun-runs, bake sales, sponsored ping-pong matches - there are plenty of ways to raise money. But a group of Somerset women have proved that fundraisers don't always have to have a novelty factor, by running a stylish, creative shopping event that showcases local artisans and food producers and supports an educational charity at the same time. Meet Jacquie Lindgren, founder of both the Made in Somerset event and the charity, Etatu.
Jacquie Lindgren helping students in Africa
Hi Jacquie, great to meet you. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your work?
I'm a teacher. I have taught in many different environments: state schools both here and abroad; private schools both here and abroad; camps for people who are asylum seekers or refugees; prisons. I am now a private tutor of GCSE English, History and Georgraphy and A Level Geography. I hold qualifications in dyslexia and TEFL and in 2012 I set up Etatu, an educational charity that works in Msambweni, Kenya. I spend much of my spare time managing and fundraising for this.
One of the ways you fundraise is through running the shopping event 'Made in Somerset'. Can you describe it and what inspired you to start it?
Made in Somerset is an artisan fair and shopping event. It brings together some of the best designer-makers and artisan-producers from around the county. We've had five so far - our first one was in 2015 - and it came about because a group of three of us wanted to raise money for Etatu and also to help after the dreadful floods on The Levels in 2014. Two of us had experience and expertise in the area of design and craft – so we dreamt up Made in Somerset, a chance to showcase the talent and the generosity of the small-scale businesses of the county.
The current Made in Somerset team - (L-R) Virginia and Frances, the clever pair who dreamed up the event in 2015, Emma, who joined last year to help with social media
and Jacquie, who is the founder of Etatu.
What do you remember about the first one?
We wondered how we had the audacity to think people would come – it was nervy. It still is quite nervy, never knowing how many people will come on the day. We relied on the reputation and style of The White Hart in Somerton, to set the tone, which is where we held our first four. There have been many memorable moments since, like the first people to come through the door; stalls selling out; meeting up with and discovering so many people who know and love Kenya. We raised £1200 the first year, which we shared with The Abingdon Fund which helps farmers facing hardship. This year we hope to raise £3,500.
The next event is Saturday 4th May 2019 in Somerton at Ace Arts Gallery and The Parish Rooms, from 10am to 4pm - what can visitors expect?
They'll be offered the best of contemporary crafts, gifts, food and produce. The range and variety means there is ‘something for everyone’ including face-painting for children. They can have coffee, tea, cake, a simple lunch as well. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming and there is the feel good element of everyone being there out of a desire to ‘make a difference.’ There will be 33 stallholders, plus two Etatu stalls and a table displaying wonderful raffle prizes.
Tell us more about Etatu, about you and its work
I set it up and run the charity. I act as main fundraiser and also, in collaboration with the Trustees, decide policy in Kenya and manage the wonderful Kenyan team of part-time staff who implement the various initiatives. Etatu works in Msambweni Kenya, a fishing and farming community in the south of Kenya. It is characterised by things like warmth and hard work, but it is also characterised by poverty. Few people can afford education, which is seen as the key route out of poverty and to improved life chances. Etatu helps families send their children to school, helps them stay there and to achieve. This is important for girls especially, for whom secondary education offers a range of other advantages, for instance delayed marriage and a 70% reduced risk of dying in child-birth. Etatu does a range of education-related things but Made in Somerset specifically raises money for secondary school fees for girls. My involvement is also to work with the fantastic volunteers who work hard for Etatu in the UK. Made in Somerset is now organised by five people but about 15 others are involved in various ways in Made in Somerset on the day.
What does Etatu mean?
‘Etatu’ literally means ‘Three ‘e’s. It is a name chosen by a group of twelve year olds, shouting out ‘Education, Education, Education’. It clearly indicated what children in the village of Mwaembe placed emphasis on. To us at the moment Etatu means ‘Education, Enterprise, Empowerment’. Etatu is pronounced: ee-tar-too
Have you seen the results of your labour in action - seen how the money raised has helped girls’ education in Kenya?
I visit Kenya relatively often, (lucky me) and I witness the results often. In 2018 eleven girls sponsored by Etatu at Kingwede Girls’ School, completed their secondary education. Eight did well enough to progress to college and two of those are going on to Univeristy. This is amazing. Without Etatu’s help, they would not have gone to school at all.
We're proud to support you and the charity. How vital is sponsorship to you?
Lodestone Property is a wonderful supporter of Etatu – its financial help enables us to run the event as we would like to – there are invariably unavoidable costs to running such an event, although we keep them to the absolute minimum. Lodestone means that absolutely all money raised can go towards Etatu’s work. Lodestone’s publicity is also vital as you have a growing presence in the area and are well regarded and well liked. Your support is affirming and signals Made in Somerset as a quality, well-run event. Finally, without publicity there would be no-one coming. All publicity is important and Lodestone’s is very much appreciated. Access to their own, loyal supporters is a great gift from Lodestone.
We wish you every success.
Follow Etatu on Facebook and Instagram: @MiS4Etatu and @EtatuKenya or visit their website https://www.etatu.org.uk.
Visit the 2019 event on Saturday 4th May 2019 in Somerton at Ace Arts Gallery and The Parish Rooms, from 10am to 4pm
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Lower Downside Farm
A large four-bedroom Victorian family home in Somerset, with stunning vistas and light-filled rooms -
it’s easy to see why this "Hidden Gem" is our latest featured house.
So, I’m looking for a home with lots of land – does this fit the bill? Absolutely – Lower Downside Farm near Shepton Mallet in Somerset is set in 6 acres, with bucolic views to boot. Not only can you look across glorious Somerset countryside here, you also benefit from beautiful gardens which have been professionally designed and that are easy to maintain. These include three hundred trees including silver birch, fruit trees and blossoming cherries which enhance the scenery, creating avenues that draw the eye beyond.
There are over 300 hundred trees at Lower Downside Farm, creating avenues for the eye
Fabulous. Any room for our very own Black Beauty? Yes, there’s a paddock and outbuildings.
I can see someone’s going to be rushing home from school every day! Quite. Luckily there are excellent private and state schools nearby, like Millfield, Downside and All Hallows Prep School (all within 20 minutes) and it’s less than 40 minutes to Bath, so it won’t be long until the pony will be fed and watered.
Brilliant. Tell me more about the house itself. It looks like it should be in a Sunday night drama….we agree! It has a lot of history to it as it was once owned by the Duchy of Cornwall - there are pictures of King Edward VII and Prince Charles visiting as part of their duties. It’s Victorian and as you would expect, plenty of period features remain. For instance, the rooms have high ceilings and the sash windows let in ample light. Then there’s a Victorian grate and open fire in the kitchen and a Victorian mantle with log burner in the downstairs study. There is the most beautiful half landing window with amazing far-reaching views, so it takes longer to get upstairs than in most houses!
The kitchen is large, well-fitted and includes an Aga
Hmmm, does this mean we’ll need to swap our 2019 lifestyle for Nineteenth Century? Not at all, as the house has been enhanced by the current owners to blend past and present. For a start, the rooms are generously proportioned. The kitchen is large and exceptionally well-fitted, including a four oven AGA and opens onto a family sitting room. The formal sitting room faces due south over the garden and your own land whilst the dining room has also been opened up into a substantial David Salisbury-built orangery which creates the most fabulous entertaining space with stunning views of the countryside and it captures day-long sunshine.
The dining room has been opened up to include an Orangery designed by David Salisbury
My solicitor’s on stand-by! But what about upstairs? You won’t be disappointed. An elegant, wide staircase leads to a galleried, first-floor landing, which has a glorious picture window off the half-landing. The master bedroom is south-facing, overlooking the garden and paddock, whilst the adjoining, large en-suite has bespoke, fitted cupboards and a huge walk-in shower.
There are three other bedrooms, right? Is there scope to create even more – in case we want to Airbnb for example, or the extended family crashes here at Christmas? Yes, because the current owners actually reduced the number of bedrooms from five to four so they could have bigger rooms, so it would be easy to revert to five again. They have also had some plans drawn up to convert the roof space to an apartment with bedroom, bathroom and sitting room if required.
Lower Downside Farm has four large bedrooms and the master is south-facing and overlooks the garden and paddock
Idyllic! But hang on, given that it sounds so self-sufficient and rural, I’m not going to go days without seeing another human am I? Don’t panic, because while there’s plenty of room to live, work and play in peace here, the market town of Shepton Mallet is just a few minutes away, providing easy access to all the usual amenities, as well as Kilver Court and the renowned Mulberry store, which offers fabulous designer shopping and the necessities like supermarkets are close by too. The ancient Cathedral city of Wells is only five miles away and offers a wider range of shops including a twice-weekly market, plenty of coffee shops and restaurants, local supermarkets include Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco. Wells has a thriving cultural scene with concerts from the Cathedral School to regular art gallery events and the very well attended Wells Literature Festival and Food Festival. You’re also within easy reach of the very fashionable small town of Bruton which has the very popular restaurant/coffee/bread shop called ‘At the Chapel’ and the world famous Hauser & Wirth Art Gallery. Frome which has numerous markets and is renowned for its independent shops and vibrant creative scene is less than half an hour’s drive away. Its also centrally located for both Bristol and Bath (approx 20 miles) with excellent access to the M4/M5 and mainline stations. Finally there are also trains that run from Castle Cary (approximately 9 miles) to London Paddington taking approximately 90 minutes. Bristol Airport is 20 miles away.
For more info please click the link here or call our Wells office on 01749 605088 to make an appointment to view.
This house is under offer May 2019
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West Pennard House
Welcome to the first in our new series called Lodestone Property Pick - where we turn a spotlight onto one of our houses for sale in Somerset and highlight its advantages. Today we're featuring a five-bedroom family home that's just a short drive from both Millfield Prep and Senior Schools.
Wow, this house is breathtaking – but why is it a “Hidden Gem”? It’s surrounded by verdant Somerset countryside yet only a short stroll to West Pennard Primary School, a five-minute drive to Millfield Prep School and a fifteen-minute drive to Millfield Senior School.
Nice and easy for the school run then? Absolutely, but there is so much more to this home than the location. From the moment you come up the gravelled driveway, you know this is something special. You can see straightaway it's an impressive period property (it was built in 1830 and not listed). Wisteria and climbing hydrangea cover the front and when you enter you're greeted by a fabulous hallway with an elegant sweeping staircase. Downstairs, there are design delights in every room, from the stone mullion windows and original fireplaces in the living rooms, to the large dining room with partly glazed French doors, one of which leads to the garden and the other to an enclosed terrace, perfect for evening drinks.
Making an entrance: The elegant hallway at West Pennard House
Drawing room with log burner and garden views
What about the kitchen? It’s always the heart of the home after all…it’s a dream. Much lighter than you’d expect from a period property, thanks to double height glass panels which allow light to flood the room. It’s spacious with an Aga, an original flagstone floor and there’s even a second kitchen with utility rooms and access to an outside courtyard.
Cooking up country-style with an Aga and flagstone floors
And my wine collection? Easily stored in the cellar
Fabulous. Now what is upstairs? I’m imagining spectacular views… that’s right! There are five generous bedrooms and three bathrooms. The master suite (with double walk-in shower) overlooks the garden, which was originally designed by Penny Hobhouse Associates. There’s 2.25 acres of fully-landscaped borders, mature hedges, floodlit weeping willow and lime trees, a vegetable patch, apple orchard, from which 100 bottles of apple juice are made each season and greenhouse…but for fans of Glastonbury Tor, bedroom five on the second floor has a view of the county’s most iconic historic building.
The master bedroom
The master ensuite has a double walk-in shower!
I’m ringing the removal firm already! And we haven’t even told you about the heated outdoor swimming pool or the tennis court yet – not forgetting the large treehouse that’s been used as a honeymoon suite in the past.
The vegetable garden
There's a tennis court and swimming pool too
This house really does have it all! Yes, it does – and on the opposite side of the drive from the house, there’s also a generous garage block including parking for two cars, a spacious workshop area and tool store with attached gym/games room (formerly stables) with attractive views over the lawn via floor to ceiling glass windows. Separate access and proximity to the entrance mean that you could convert it to an office or even an Airbnb (with relevant planning permission) and it wouldn’t intrude on the main parts of the property.
Back garden at West Pennard House
Hang on a moment – given that it’s a ‘Hidden Gem’, does this mean I have to kiss the outside world goodbye and prepare for a life of Ocado and Netflix? Not at all. While the house has plenty to offer in terms of space in which you can socialise and/or work from home, it’s also really well located to make the most of West Pennard village and surrounds. The village is very active with an excellent primary school, a village hall and popular pub. Nearby Glastonbury has all the doctors, pharmacies, dentists, clubs, supermarkets and sporting facilities you could want. It also has restaurants, independent shops and cafes and bars too, as do the fashionable towns of Frome and Bruton which are half an hour drive away. These two places are often on lists of top places to live in Britain, because of their independent shops, galleries and eateries, like Hauser&Wirth gallery, At The Chapel and Caro Somerset in Bruton. Bath, Bristol and Yeovil are all within easy commuting distance too and the train station at Castle Cary is less than 10 miles away and has direct links to London. Finally, there are excellent local schools including West Pennard’s own Primary School and the highly regarded Strode College Sixth Form College. Independent schools include the Millfield Schools, Wells Cathedral School, Downside, All Hallows and the Bruton schools.
How can I find out more? Click the link here and give our Bruton office a call on 01749 605099. Oh and one last thing – it’s not part of a chain.
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The Old Vicarage, Oakhill
Steeped in history and surrounded by idyllic country views, this 7 bed family home in Somerset has everything a family needs - from large, light rooms, to a secret staircase to broadband and a five minute walk to the pub - just ask the owners....
The Old Vicarage at Oakhill, completed 1890
How long have you lived here and how did you feel when you first moved in?
We’ve lived here eleven years, since our children were 2 and 3 years old. We viewed so many properties during our house-search all those years ago but The Old Vicarage ticked all our boxes for the wonderful, spacious, practical and elegant family house we’d been looking for. We loved the historical background too. It was completed in 1890, apparently the result of simmering sibling rivalry between two local ministers -the Vicar of Oakhill & Ashwick Parish designed it and built it himself, on a majestic scale, primarily in order to outdo his brother’s more modest parsonage in the neighbouring parish. For us, moving in to The Old Vicarage with all the possibilities it presented as a long-term family home was simultaneously exciting and comforting, and we can’t think of a better house for our children to have spent their childhood.
Plenty of space for all the family, including the furry members
Describe some of your favourite memories about this house.
During out time here we've found that The Old Vicarage certainly lends itself to entertaining and large get-togethers - for a certain ‘significant birthday’, we hosted a legendary Summer BBQ & Karaoke Weekend for a group of university friends, mostly from London – a memorable Somerset getaway for them and an ideal venue to throw a relaxed house party for us. And of course, with enough bedrooms to accommodate grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, we welcome many relations to stay every year over the festive period. This is when the formal dining room comes into its own - and the large kitchen with plenty of work-space, four-oven Aga and separate electric oven means hosting Christmas Lunch for a crowd is easy.
Having the Coach House tucked away at the bottom of the drive also offers superb additional accommodation for family or friends when they come to stay. Those needing their own space can enjoy the seclusion of a comfortable, self-contained cottage with en-suite bathroom, fully-fitted kitchen, dishwasher and washer-dryer and their own private patio garden.
The Coach House is a brilliant addition to accommodation - gives certain guests or family members privacy, you could Air B'n'B it for extra income
What did your family enjoy about living here?
Apart from the location and the beautiful rural surroundings, we loved the sheer practicality of the space and the comfort and usability of every part of the house. The generously-proportioned bedrooms, the spacious kitchen, the grand formal dining room, the double-aspect sitting room – every part of the house works and fits our lifestyle completely. When the children were young, we used the ground floor study as a playroom. As they grew older, this converted to a Music Room for piano and violin practice. There are enough bedrooms upstairs to have at least a couple of guest bedrooms plus an office or an additional “snug".
One of the upstairs bedrooms
We hear that the kitchen is something special too..
Yes! It provides a really welcoming, sociable hub for the family. Its renovation was completed in 2013- bespoke, hand-made and hand-painted by kitchen specialists Smallbone of Devizes. The aim was to open up the kitchen into the Orangery, incorporating not only the natural light but also the far-reaching views across the garden and the fields beyond. A bright, airy and very practical room, the kitchen is the modern hub of the house. The Orangery end is large enough for both a dining table and a couple of comfy sofas, making the kitchen a really family-friendly, social space. The Aga, plus warm or cold air conditioning and the under-floor heating make it cosy in winter while the built-in Miele coffee machine, wine-cooler, Qooker boiling water tap and Miele Combi-Oven microwave satisfy our need for culinary mod cons!
One other feature of the house we particularly love is the huge, fully-fitted utility room, with its original grey flagstone flooring and the iconic “Sheila-Maid” ceiling-mounted, pulley-drawn clothes airer. As well as being a great space for managing the laundry, this room is the perfect “boot-room” for kicking off wellies after a walk on the village Rec or keeping the dogs’ beds and bowls (and muddy feet!) in their own space, out of the kitchen.
The kitchen is a welcoming social hub for the family, complete with light filled Orangery, ideal for dining
Describe your other favourite rooms and why you love them
This house is a fine example of the Victorian architectural style. All the rooms have magnificent proportions – high ceilings with intricate cornicing framed by broad doorways, generous sash windows and deep skirting boards. The house is bursting with carefully-preserved period features, from the stunning mosaic-tiled hallway to the sweeping oak staircase and pretty period fireplaces throughout the house. On the ground floor we added a Victorian “Thomas Crapper” cloakroom, complete with square, polished mahogany loo seat, high-level cistern and matching porcelain sink.
Isn't the attic suite a winner?
It is..over the decade we’ve lived here as a family, we’ve made many improvements to the house, not least the stunning attic conversion - which offers a comfortable, peaceful retreat and cinema room when the family hubbub below becomes a bit too much!. Completed in 2009 by Attic Life Ltd, the conversion won the South West Regional Builder of the Year Award in the Medium Renovations category. What we love about it is the contrast of the traditional bedrooms on the first floor against a wonderfully contemporary suite of rooms at the top of the house. It covers the entire footprint of the house and is soundproofed - a large bedroom area, a lounge area, two dressing rooms, a vast light-filled bathroom and even a kitchenette with built-in fridge (handy for making a quick up of tea in the morning before heading back to bed). A quirky feature which we added was the “secret staircase” – if you pull back the innocent-looking bookcase, a secret stairway is revealed, leading to one of the spare bedrooms below.
The bedroom in the attic master suite - ideal for family guests or Air B'n'B as it has a private internal entrance via a bookcase (below) and a kitchenette
There's a secret staircase to the attic suite hidden behind this bookcase!
Tell us about your garden
It's the perfect balance between sweeping, mature flower beds and wide, open expanse of lawn. We were very lucky that our predecessor had the mature beds and borders professionally planted up by an experienced horticulturalist so there’s a huge variety of wonderful flowering plants and shrubs, thoughtfully planted; the whole garden bursts into bloom in early summer. In addition, we created a fenced vegetable garden with six raised beds, where we've enjoyed growing everything from spinach and potatoes to kohlrabi and asparagus. The garden is perfect for children to play and dogs to roam, and we love it when the cows or sheep which regularly graze in the adjacent field trot over to peer at us over the fence (cows are particularly fascinated by piano practice, we discovered!)
The vegetable garden at The Old Vicarage
What do you love about the location?
Situated in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) The Old Vicarage is surrounded by quiet, pretty country lanes – great for dog-walking and cycling – and wonderful views across the Mendip Hills. The village is near the town of Radstock, Somerset but has many amenities of its own including a popular primary school, a busy doctor’s surgery, two churches and not least the celebrated Oakhill Inn with traditional local ales, an impressive collection of fine wines, roaring log fires and an award-winning fine-dining menu.
Soak up Somerset surrounding views from the balcony
The local community in Oakhill is hugely vibrant and energetic – there’s always something going on, from the weekly toddler group to the Oakhill & Ashwick local history society, the photography club, the Oakhill Choir, the Oakhill FC football team, the East Mendip gardening club, book groups, W.I. gatherings and tonnes of social get-togethers for all ages. The vicar’s annual “Sausage Sizzle” is legendary, along with the many charity fund-raising events which are regularly organised by local residents. In recent years the Oakhill Festival - shaking up the village Recreation Ground every summer during a weekend in July - has become a hugely popular live-music event, while The Harvest Festival & Produce Show in September has villagers eagerly vying for 1st Prize with their marrows, leeks and remarkable home-baking, all displayed in Oakhill Village Hall.
When you're not out and about taking part in village life, you can entertain yourself in your own Games Room
We keep up to date with everything going on in the village through the friendly Oakhill Village Life Facebook group, where more than 500 members swap news and views about living in the village. There is a close sense of community in the village – neighbours supporting each other, welcoming newcomers and offering help and assistance, it’s very uplifting to see such positive, close-knit community spirit. And I’m delighted to say that OpenReach has now brought the local broadband right up to superfast speed, so connecting to social media is never a problem! There are so many outdoor activities within easy reach, too. Both the Mendip Golf Club and Mendip Shooting Ground are just a couple of miles away, we’re very local to Cheddar Gorge and just 20 minutes from Chew Valley Lakes, for fishing and sailing. Being located on the Mendip Hills offers plenty of opportunity for walking, hiking, cycling and climbing.
While we love rural life, it’s exciting to be close to Bath and Bristol to take advantage of what both cities have to offer. Recently we were thrilled to pop in to see the visiting David Hockney painting “Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy” at the Holburne Museum in Bath, just 25 minutes’ away. Bath also offers wonderful Christmas shopping and some exemplary restaurants and bars.
The large family sitting room
Any other local tips?
The Oakhill Inn is just five minutes walk from the house and is the sister pub to the King William in Bath, about which The Times’ restaurant critic Giles Coren once wrote “…”So good it brings a tear to your eye…well worth making the train journey from London, even just for lunch.” In our opinion, the award-winning menu at the Oakhill Inn has just as much appeal as its Bath-based relation and it has become a very popular destination pub for discerning diners from across Somerset. In the nearby village of Holcombe, The Holcombe Inn is another fabulous country pub with an excellent menu and cosy atmosphere, while for curry fans it’s hard to beat the Mughal Empire, just five minutes away in Shepton Mallet. We’re regular customers there on a Friday night (or any night). If you need provisions to cook at home, there’s a huge Tesco Superstore in Shepton Mallet. Just over a mile from The Old Vicarage you’ll find Gurney Slade Stores and Post Office, a friendly, family-run village shop stocking most things you need for a quick top-up. Also convenient is a large Co-Op in the nearby village of Chilcompton. There are many excellent independent schools within easy reach of the house, including Downside Abbey just two miles away in the neighbouring village of Stratton-on-the Fosse. Wells Cathedral School is just 6 miles away and also within comfortable commuting distance are Millfield School, King’s Bruton, Bruton School for Girls, Sherborne, All Hallows Prep and Hazlegrove Prep. The choice of top independent schools in the area is extraordinary.
The Old Vicarage - perfect for family life
What will you miss about living here and why?
It's rare to find a house which works so well on so many levels - designed with a large amount of living space which comes together so effortlessly, located in such beautiful surroundings, in a village with so much to offer. The house has so many memories and has been our family home for most of our children’s lives, so I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to find a house which works for us as well as this one did, but our family life is evolving and it’s a challenge we’ll have to face!