Why Bruton is becoming the home of craft

An influx of the very best creatives has transformed this quaint, honey-stoned Somerset town into craft central

Bruton high street

Art powerhouse Hauser & Wirth placed Bruton firmly on the global map in 2014 when it converted Durslade Farm into its West Country gallery, alongsideRoth Bar & Grill and a holiday cottage. Yet many argue Catherine Butler paved the way in 2008, with At The Chapel restaurant and rooms. Suffice to say, Bruton-boosting articles have appeared ever since.

At the Chapel restaurant and rooms in Bruton
At the Chapel in Bruton
At the Chapel

Now, Brutonites can welcome a promising young chef into the fold. Merlin Labron-Johnson, formerly of London’s The Conduit members’ club and Portland and Clipstone restaurants, is opening Osip at Number One Bruton, a 12-room hotel. The bistro-style eatery will prioritise ‘organic vegetables over red meat’ and minimise waste, with the Devon-born chef, who earned a Michelin star aged 24, inspired by the community kitchen approach of Kensington’s Refettorio Felix.

No.1 Bruton hotel guestroom
No.1 Bruton hotel guestroom
No.1 Bruton

The hotel itself is being billed as a ‘small love letter to Somerset’, with a garden by Penelope Hobhouse and interiors by London’s Frank & Faber, plus contributions from high-profile locals such as Don McCullin, Kaffe Fassett, Bill Amberg and Solange Azagury-Partridge.


Osip restaurant food, Bruton
Osip restaurant

And that’s the beauty of Bruton: there’s no shortage of creative talent. Following in the wake of retail trailblazers Caro and Hauser & Wirth’s craft gallery Make is new kid Fifty High Street – a collaboration between Labour & Wait and specialist crafts magazine Hole & Corner. The ambition, says founder Sam Walton, is to offer an ‘interactive retail experience’, with demos, workshops and talks alongside products.

Fifty High Street
Fifty High Street
Hole & Corner

Recently relocated ceramicist Hannah Dipper and designer Robin Farquhar, co-founders of People Will Always Need Plates, have similar plans. ‘Bruton punches above its weight creatively,’ says Dipper. ‘The move has allowed us to buy a fixer-upper, shop space and outbuilding, which we’ll turn into a ceramics studio.’ Workshops are planned with Hauser & Wirth, which is, she says, ‘unbelievably community-minded’.

In addition to high-street hotels, the hip rural estate The Newt with 23 suites is just 10 minutes away. Spoon whittling, here we come!

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020

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