Frome: It’s not as bad as it used to be

I find it difficult to write about my hometown.

As a child I hated it. There was nothing to do. I worked hard at school so that I could leave.

Now Frome is trendy. It has quirky secondhand shops! A mediocre festival! Flat whites! All things I like.

But you know what, I still hate it.

The changes mean that people “relocate” to Frome but send their kids to the good school in the next town.

There’s a monthly independent market but hardly any of the stalls are run by local businesses.

Lifestyle journalists go on about Frome’s celebrity residents (Pearl Lowe for a while, one of the McGann brothers) but don’t bother to research how to say ‘Frome’. ‘There’s no place like Frome’ is a rubbish headline regardless of pronunciation.

There’s a monthly independent market but hardly any of the stalls are run by local businesses.

But here’s the predictable twist to my rant: despite reducing me a West Country Holden Caulfield, I love Frome very much.

I am not sure if any of the following recommendations are of interest to visitors or whether I have written a nostalgic trip through my childhood but I hope you enjoy it.

Gargoyle in Frome, Somerset
How I feel about Frome

Interesting stuff and shops

Cheap St is my favourite part of town mainly because it has a stream running through it. Yep, a stream. It’s great. The shops are mostly independent and have been there for years. These include:

  • Blue Hyacinth for candles and silver jewellery
  • Raves from the Grave is full of records. Russell Brand went there once. Don’t let that put you off
  • Amica is the place for gifts and home ware
  • Sagebury Cheese is a delightful deli (deli-lightful, narf) stuffed with meats, cheeses and preserves
  • The Old Bakehouse sells traditional cakes and breads (and frog cakes if you’re 5 and your mum says you’ve been good).

The Cheese and Grain in the marketplace carpark used to be home to cattle auctions (I remember them so it was probably until the late 1980s). The building was converted into a venue in the late 1990s and now hosts markets and gigs.

Frome has an independent cinema with a bar. Still need persuading? They sell choc ices.

Ellenbray is possibly the best toy shop in the world. The staff have laid back touching policy and there’s a range of birthday present and pocketmoney-priced toys. Fun fact, the building was the library until the early 90s.

The pet shop should give me a loyalty card given how much I have spent on hamsters and goldfish over the years. I am sure the resident parrot tells people to fuck off. Well worth a visit.

Eating

Vegetarian

The Garden Cafe at the bottom of Catherine Hill has served vegetarian food for years and hasn’t needed/bothered to change its menu.

The goat’s cheese and pepper grilled sandwich is my favourite but the salad plate is also yummy.

If it’s not raining, grab a table in garden – it’s is a sun trap.

Cafes

Painting on the side of Cafe La Strada, Frome, Somerset
The side of Cafe La Strada, Frome, Somerset

I am pretty sure Cafe La Strada at the top of Cheap St brought the cappucino to Frome in 2006. It’s the original (and best) of Frome’s modern coffee shops. The coffee, cakes and ice cream are all reliably tasty and there are some outside seats where you can people watch (i.e see children fall in the stream).

In winter head to The Settle for old fashioned cakes and pots of tea beside the log fire.

Bacon

I am including the Market Cross Cafe for pure nostalgia. It’s not the fanciest place in town but it’s the only cafe where you can eat a bacon sandwich off a Formica table and wash it down with mugs of builder’s tea. Perfect for banishing hangovers.

Drinking

Frome used to be a bit fighty at night. It can still be a bit lairy but if you don’t go looking for trouble you’ll be fine.

Nice pubs

The Cornerhouse, Archangel and Three Swans have all been given a makeovers in the last 10 years and are much nicer (albeit also more expensive) for it.

The Cornerhouse has a welcoming atmosphere and has retained its ‘proper pub’ feel.

The Archangel is huge, has a bit of a confusing layout and is pricey by Frome standards. However, it makes up for this with friendly staff, local ales and ciders and a secluded outside area.

The beer garden at the Archangel, Frome, Somerset
Summer Sundays in the Archangel, Frome, Somerset

The Three Swans has gone from being Frome’s shithole pub to Frome’s quirky pub. The decor is eclectic with tables made from drums, taxidermied animals wearing costume jewellery and huge candlesticks.

Music

The Wheatsheaves was the place to be circa 2001. Then it went horrible. Now it’s been taken over by some Fromies who making it good again with DJs, bands and general niceness. Hurrah!

Cider

The Sun on Catherine Hill and Lamb and Fountain are both good for proper cider. You’ll be barred for ordering a Magners. Possibly.

Pretentious

Frome’s newest revamped pub is the Artisan. Sounds a bit wanky, doesn’t it? I’m not going there. Ever.

Monthly independent market in Frome, Somerset
Monthly independent market in Frome, Somerset

Visit Frome: it’s not as bad as it used to be.

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4 thoughts on “Frome: It’s not as bad as it used to be

  1. Unfortunately the houses are now to expensive for the people who made the town better (ie artists, writers, makers musicians) Rusty buckets and beards predominate.

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  2. I love Frome. Am originally from Lincoln (the most beautiful city in all the land) but recently moved to Devizes as house prices in Frome were out of my league. Biggest mistake. Devizes is so boring. Apart from its historical and architectural beauties (there are over 500 listed buildings), there’s nothing else I like about the place. Wait. There’s a fantastic tearoom – Tea Inc. which serve the best Matcha green tea. Other than about 10 or more coffee shops and a dozen hairdressers, the town is a cemetery. Frome is a vibrant town – for a small place in the West Cuntry.

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