Why go there?
This pretty Somerset town (pronounced ‘froom’) is busy, beautiful and thriving. Whether you wish to use the town as a base to explore Bath, Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge, Avebury, the Mendips and beyond; or you just want to lose yourself in the charming cobbled streets, packed with superb and unique shops with an arty feel, Frome is the place to be.
Cheap Street, complete with a small stream (or leat) running down the middle of it, boasts some fine independent shops – just watch where you’re walking or you may get wet feet – while cobbled Catherine Hill is packed with unique boutiques, selling everything from antiques or the perfect gift to handmade clothes.
There’s always plenty going on here. The first Sunday of each month plays host to the Artisan Market, when the cobbled streets are full of traders selling mouthwatering local food, arts and crafts and antiques. Each July sees the annual Frome Festival, which this year features such acts as Reef, Mark Thomas and the Bath Philharmonia at different venues throughout the town. September is also a busy time – on 8 September this year, the town stages its annual Cheese Show, a bustling agricultural show that, despite the name, offers lots more than just Somerset cheese. Also in September, Frome Carnival, part of the Wessex Circuit, hits the town, and the streets are aglow with weird, wonderful and colourful floats. But perhaps the quirkiest event of all is the annual Cobble Wobble, also held in September, which sees competitors cycle up Stoney Street and Catherine Hill against the clock. The course can best be described as short, but very steep and very cobbly – watching the competitors struggle, often in fancy dress, is certainly much easier than taking part.
Where to stay
Recently named as one of the 100 best hotels in the world by The Sunday Times, the Archangel in the heart of the town centre is the perfect place to rest your head after tackling Frome’s famous hills. The food is great here, too.
Where to eat
Frome is blessed with fine cafes, selling handmade, local fare and excellent coffee. Perhaps the pick of the bunch is La Strada at the top of Cheap Street, where you can sit next to the leat and watch the world go by. Or head to Stoney Street for a sweet treat in Stardust Cafe or some tasty organic grub in The Garden Cafe.
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Image: © Copyright Roger Cornfoot and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
With more listed buildings than anywhere else in Somerset (except for the World Heritage Site of Bath, which is tricky to beat), Frome is bursting with history. Whether it’s the grave of Bishop Thomas Ken, one of the fathers of modern English hymnology, at St John’s Church, or the much more recent Button Bridge, named after the town’s most famous contemporary son, Jenson Button; there’s an interesting story around nearly every corner.