I get asked questions all the time that asks “Are there any places I can visit just outside of London?” I usually say Bath, Oxford, Bristol, but now I can add Frome (pronounced Froome) in the county of Somerset. I’m sure you are asking why, so let me tell you the reason.
First, you are perhaps wondering why its pronounced the way it is. Well, glad you asked. Initially the town was spelt Froome, then the name was changed to Frome, but they kept the pronunciation.It is actually very pleasant to hear it spoken by the natives. So where is Frome, Somerset United Kingdom? If you want to drive, its 2h 16m away from the center of London, says Google.com.
Oddly enough, the timing by train is about the same. There are also more frequent train service to Westbury, a neighboring town. A 15 GBP or so cab ride will take you from Westbury into the town of Frome. 4 GBP will get you from the Frome train station to the town of Frome. Why go to Frome? Well, there are no major attractions there per se, however, the area is beautiful and ideal if you just want to get away from the city of London and enjoy the English countryside.
Also, accommodations is much cheaper than in neighboring Bath, not to mention the traffic is less. Plus if you want to visit Bath, you can catch a train from the train station in Frome or Westbury. As small as Frome is, its actually has a few interesting things to offer visitors. Let’s take a look:
- Their own App – This Free IOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod) App is a must when visiting Frome. It shows you the Arts, Heritage, Shopping, Active Frome, Youth and Markets. So there’s a little for everyone when using the App.
- Cafe Loop de Loop – This is a crowdfunded project that was spearheaded by Katy Duke. It’s five loos (toilets) that were converted into mini galleries and a food kiosk. It’s painted like a lollipop and is well worth a visit to sample the savoury snacks and tapas and see the galleries.
- BlackSwan Arts Center – Located near the Museum and the Cheese & Grain, this center has a coffee shop as well as a few artisan shops. It showcases talents from around the neighborhood.
- Cooper Hall – So in Frome, they have this swanky concert Hall like you would not believe. Even better, its out in the country side with its own outdoor pool (I don’t think you can use it though :-)). I’ve not seen anything quite like it at all. Its run by Morag McLaren, a re-knowned opera singer herself and Fay Goodridge. Check out the concert schedule and see if you can time your trip around a performance.
- The Cheese & Grain – Another market where you find really antique stuff like an old self-heater iron which brought back childhood memories. This place is in a huge “barn” and if you are a flea market junkie, this is the place for you. Its also a hall for local bands, so you may be lucky and is in town when a band is in town. None were lined up the days I visited.
- The Tool Shed Gallery – Perhaps the smallest gallery I’ve ever seen. Its a cool place on the edge of the town. It is literally one room. Typically different artists are featured from time to time.
- The Young Mayor – I did not meet this guy, but I met his parents. He’s only 22 at the time of this writing! Not the youngest mayor in the U.K. though, apparently there’s another young man who was 21 year old at the time he was elected mayor. Go figure. His parents are cool and I’m sure if you go to the City Hall and ask for him and he’s in, he’ll see you.
- The Owl Gallery on Catherine Hill – One of the neat things about this little town is its people and Anny, the owner of this Gallery makes the place great. The Owl is one of the quirky interesting places on the famous Catherine Hill, that’s worth a visit among the many shops on the Hill.
- SEED – Run by Sinead Foley, its a place that showcases local art and crafts. It’s located just outside the museum.
- Several markets – If you want to see some good markets and experience some local items and meet locals, then attend one of Frome’s markets
- Host of the Cobble Wobble. What’s that? Well, its where riders go from the bottom to the top Of St. Catherine’s Hill. The record is 22 seconds. It’s crazy when you see Catherine Hill as its a bit windy and steep. How they scale that Hill in 22 seconds on a bicycle is beyond me.
- The Merlin Theatre – Another Theatre in Frome to improve your cultural palette. Here you can see the following upcoming acts: Elephant Bridemaids (31 Oct.), Snow White Vienna Festival Ballet (24 Oct.)
So where can you stay? There are a few places available; I was able to check out three of them, but my favorite is The Cornerhouse, although its not located in the center of the city. But the city is so small that you can walk everywhere. The Cornerhouse is a hotel, bar and restaurant all in one. The rooms are atop the bar and restaurant. Room prices are reasonable as well and the rooms are quite nice as well. Here are some other places in town:
- The Archangel – just a block from the famous Cheap Street, this hotel dates back to medieval times and still has a barn-like feel to it.
- The Old Bath Arms – I was walking around the town and came across this hotel. It too has a bar and restaurant on the lower level and the rooms on top.
All in all, this small town is worth a visit if you are in London and want to take a short trip out to the countryside to experience something other than the hustle and bustle of a big city. Have you been out to Frome? If so leave a comment below. Or if you’ve not been, let me know if you have any interest to go based on what you’ve read here.
Note: My visit to Frome was compliments of the Frome City Council. As usual, the views are my own.