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.
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.
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.
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.
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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