The trendy artisan shopping quarter that’s cooler than London

The artisan quarter of St Catherine’s in Frome, Somerset, is fast becoming one of the coolest and trendiest places in the country.

The town is built on uneven high ground at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, and is about 13 miles south of the city of Bath – which is also popular with tourists throughout the year. 

The town is well-connected to the UK’s capital city with multiple direct trains from Paddington station right into the heart of the town.

As you leave the buzz of Frome’s town centre and wander through the arches in the town, you will discover the famous St Catherine’s Hill which is home to many artisan shops.

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You will be immediately greeted with cobbled stones, lively shops, art galleries, cafés, and restaurants dotted around the narrow ancient streets.

It is a Bohemian-looking area, with many people drinking coffee and sitting on small tables outside shops, watching life pass by.

There is a huge array of shops including art shops, butchers, hardware, vintage clothes shops, and bakeries selling fresh goods.

Geoff, owner of the independent drinks business, Still Life Gin, in St Catherine’s Quarter loves the feel of the town: “For us, it’s a good balance between being a big enough place where there is a lot to do, and having a small community feel. It’s a cool place to shop and walk around and full of independent businesses and people doing interesting things.”

Geoff and his partner Sam, who are both engineers-turned-entrepreneurs work with local restaurants and cafes in the town to promote their bespoke gin, and overall they are proud of being part of an “inclusive community”.

He said: “We want to give the local community the best of what we’re doing.”

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Walking through the streets there are many independent cafés to dine in. Rye Bakery, is housed in a former 19th-century church, with an organ forming the centrepiece of the café.

A sign on the wall proudly states the cafe uses ingredients from “local farmers and producers”. Dairy is sourced from local farms, and all pastries are made from “house-churned butter from the happiest cows”.

At the top of Catherine’s Hill is one of the town’s most romantic landmarks – the Frome Valentine’s Lamp.

It is a working gas lamp, the only one in Somerset, that is dedicated to the memory of St. Valentine. Every year there are lighting ceremonies when the gas lamp is lit for the first time.

It is a remarkable town because of the high-density of independent shops in one area. Frome is the fourth largest town in Somerset with a high population density of 27,898 residents according to Census 2021.

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