Words and Photos by Chris Knight
When you think of creative hubs in the UK, a few places come to mind, mainly metropolitan cities. However, one place that doesn’t come to mind is Bruton in Somerset. Now home to a world-renowned art gallery (Hauser and Wirth), a Scandi design shop and a boutique hotel, At The Chapel. An 8 room hotel where each room is unique and individually designed.
Bruton now has another thing going for it. A direct train line from London Paddington via Castle Cary. This makes it the perfect weekend getaway for any Londoner but with the bonus of stunning countryside.
From speaking to some of the people there, we got the impression that the village was a refuge to ex-londoners who have decided to sell up and settle for the quiet life outside of the city. That doesn’t mean the place is full of well spoken Notting Hill types, the place is still home to born and bred Somerset folk that seem to welcome such improvement to the area.
At The Chapel was opened in 2000 by Catherine Butler who bought the building on impulse following a visit there. This was 1 year after the infamous and private Babington House opened just 20 minutes away. The result was one of great influence and is known to everyone in the village to have put Bruton on the map.
When you walk into the Chapel, it feels as if you’ve entered the heavenly kingdom itself with the warmth and smells of the pizza oven wistfully entering you. We were staying in room 2 which was at the front of the hotel, above the front door. As a result, this room features the almost floor to ceiling chapel windows! Once checked in we had to get the pizza from downstairs which was terrific and were assured that the ingredients were fresh and local.
That’s the great thing about opening a hotel in the area, it’s home to some of the best local ingredients in the UK. Just down the road is Westcombe Cheese which can be found at Neil’s Yard cheese and Fortnum and Mason. Also Mere Park Dairy that stock some delightful Ewes Milk which you should try! We went to a dinner at Roth Bar and Grill whilst there which Jess has written about here. Mark Hix personally spoke about each course and a number of revered cheese makers and wine experts were on hand to discuss what we were eating and drinking.
All in all At The Chapel is a great base to settle down for the weekend and allows you to explore the area and what it has to offer in style. We hope this inspires you to go and take a look for yourself.