Va-va-Frome — there’s no getting round the fact that eastern Somerset is trendy, and Frome has come a long way in the past 10 years. Once more rough scrumpy than craft beer, it has reinvented itself as an artsy-foodie hipster haven thanks to an influx of young families.
The heart of this town of 26,000 inhabitants is a conservation area. The cobbled, pedestrianised Catherine Hill is an artisan quarter — though don’t go on Monday, when most of the shops are closed. The Westway Cinema (reopened after a fire last year), the Black Swan arts centre and the Cheese and Grain, a music venue, led the way, and since 2013, the Frome Independent, a food and design market, has put the place firmly on the map, attracting thousands on the first Sunday of the month from March to December. The Frome arts festival, held in July, is in its 17th year.
Independence is a big deal in Frome, whether it’s the shops, the council or the Steiner Academy, which opened in 2012. There are a couple of butchers, and a fishmonger visits twice a week, yet the town’s foodie credentials are dented by a dearth of decent places to eat out, especially in the evening. For lunch, locals recommend the vegetarian Garden Cafe, which has just opened a deli next door, and the River House cafe; after dark, there’s the Thai Kitchen and the High Pavement Evening Cafe, for dinner with a family-home vibe (from £19 for three courses).
The station is on a line between Gloucester and Weymouth, with only two direct trains a day to London Paddington (1hr 50min). The state schools are considered good and All Hallows Prep, Millfield, Wells Cathedral and King’s Bruton independents are about half an hour away.
What the locals say We moved from London and never looked back.
Why we love it For its energy and strong sense of community.