Frome, Som­er­set. Plus All the places I’ll never live

The Guardian - Weekend - - Content - Tom Dy­ck­hoff

What’s go­ing for it? When the rev­o­lu­tion comes, it will start here, a small his­toric mar­ket town deep in wildest Som­er­set. Frome’s got form. It ri­oted time and again in the 18th cen­tury when the wool trade slumped and the price of gruel sky­rock­eted. Non­con­formism flour­ished. By the 1970s it had be­come one of those spots where hip­pies es­caped the rat race, a utopia gen­tly scented with patchouli oil. In 2015, it blew a rasp­berry at party pol­i­tics, elect­ing a town coun­cil en­tirely made up of in­de­pen­dents. It is the cap­i­tal of so-called flat­pack democ­racy, grass­roots DIY pol­i­tics. You want com­mu­nity? You got it. You can’t pop out in your dress­ing gown for a pint of milk (or­ganic, lo­cally lac­tated, natch) with­out crowd­fund­ing a piece of civic in­fra­struc­ture. One news­pa­per called it the sixth coolest town in Bri­tain. This does it a dis­ser­vice. Frome is not cool (OK, maybe a lit­tle bit: I mean, the Foo Fight­ers did play a se­cret gig here in Fe­bru­ary). It’s just bloody great.

The case against Don’t come if you’re not a joiner-in (or do, but bolt the door and pre­tend you’re out). Rel­a­tive iso­la­tion: trains are fre­quent but slow, and you’re a trek from a mo­tor­way.

Well con­nected? Trains: Yeovil ev­ery one or two hours (30 mins); Bath is 50 mins, Bris­tol just over an hour (hourly, only some di­rect); three di­rect trains a day to Lon­don (2 hours). Driv­ing: Bath is 30 mins, Bris­tol an hour, the M4 and M5 get­ting on for an hour; there’s al­ways the A303 (noooooo!).

Schools Pri­maries: Sel­wood, Hayes­down First, St Louis Catholic, Val­lis First, St John’s CofE First, Oak­field, Steiner, Trin­ity CofE First are “good”, says Ofsted. Sec­on­daries: Frome Com­mu­nity Col­lege and the Steiner Academy are “good”. Hang out at… The bril­liant Frome In­de­pen­dent, a monthly mar­ket with DJs and mu­sic.

Where to buy Just a de­light, ar­chi­tec­turally. Ev­ery kind of home. The old cen­tre is large and piled high with 17th- and 18th-cen­tury build­ings. Fur­ther out, scout out nice roads like Berkley Road, and lovely Vic­to­ri­ans around Vic­to­ria Park. Subur­bans: south around Marston Lane. Large de­tacheds and town houses, £500,000£1.5m. Smaller de­tacheds and town houses, £250,000-£500,000. Semis, £175,000-£600,000. Ter­races and cot­tages, £175,000-£450,000. Flats, £100,000-£300,000. Rentals: a one-bed flat, £450£550pcm; a three-bed house, £750-£950pcm.

Bar­gain of the week Three-bed Vic­to­rian town house in the cen­tre, need­ing ren­o­va­tion, £250,000, co­operand­tan­ner.co.uk.

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