Meandering on the Somerset border

2 February 2015
Ben Pentreath

We had a fantastic weekend. There is not a lot to write, but a lot to look at. Bitterly cold winds swept across Dorset, but accompanied by bright sunshine – the best sort of winter day. We decided to visit Montacute, that fantastic Elizabethan house on the Somerset border, whose garden I thought might be looking rather perfect in the clear austere winter light. We set off, calling into the little town of Crewkerne on the way.


I love Crewkerne, with its perfect combination of sublime classical town architecture in dark orange Hamstone, and the charm of a place that is not over-done up. At all.P1070747 P1070748 P1070751 P1070753 P1070755 P1070761

The Church of St. Bartholomew watches over the town, and is beautiful.P1070765

I loved this pile of orange chairs and ancient framed pictures on the back wall.P1070769

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Charlie and I had a good haul at the Crewkerne Antiques Centre…P1070780


China dogs anyone?

The butcher’s shop signage spoke of a prouder era for our small towns:P1070782

I was sad to see the bookshop, that I first visited I guess 15 years ago, has gone. A fantastic opportunity for someone perhaps? Hence this photo:P1070783

One of the beautiful late Georgian houses that are found on every corner. It’s a fine town, with a spirit of its own.P1070784

A short drive through deep, narrow Somerset lanes took us to Montacute.  Elizabethan vistas spread across the brown-green-grey landscape.
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Your first glimpse of a drift of snowdrops is always a cheering sight:P1070815 P1070818

The pair of tiny pavilions at either corner of the East Court are like jewel-boxes:P1070823 P1070828 P1070831 P1070834 P1070835

The perfect orangery:P1070836 P1070838 P1070842 P1070850 P1070851 P1070860 P1070862

Montacute has the almost perfect architectural garden. Signs of spring in the east court:P1070872

And home… to find the last rays of the sun at the Old Parsonage. It occurred to me it’s a very long time since I’ve posted a photo of the OP. You will be reassured to know that nothing has changed:P1070873 P1070879 P1070883

But all is good. On Saturday night, we had our Burns Night supper in the village hall. By all accounts the revels carried on until 5 in the morning. Sunday was an extremely quiet day in the village.

20 comments on this post

Montecute is a favourite of mine, and I am enjoying seeing it on Wednesday evenings representing the long demolished Greenwich Palace – Henry Vlll’s main London seat and site of Anne Boleyn’s


Very much appreciated the views of Crewkerne’s stone houses and church interior. Large central heating pipes are also of interest as we are pondering an upgrade but I am loathe to get rid of them as they snake around the house. Very much a Wolf Hall fan and Montecute retains the Tudor atmosphere on quiet days. Many thanks.

You capture everything I love and miss about England. Your blog makes my week.

Ben, this has been in interesting blog, not only for your enjoyable post (a lift to winter-weary spirits!) but because of the comments. I, too, often have issues with the photos. The first one will appear proper size on the main blog page, but once I go into “read more” mode, the photo is huge and part is cut off. But, I found a way around it: Right click on the pic and open it in a new browser window. It will come up properly sized.

I love the photo of the tree, the one that looks as if Daphne was twirling in her pleated peplos, arms upraised, just as the was transformed.

Greetings to Victoria and William, I am sure they will become “Bennites” (felicitous nomenclature!) too before long.



I’m pleased that I’m not the only one whose computer doesn’t like loading your lovely blog. Quite often I only get half a picture and knowing your wonderful eye, I know this isn’t what you intended. I’ve yet to get a glimpse of the orange chairs or enjoy a full picture of the spectacular Montacute. Sometimes, it’s ok the first time I read your blog, but hopeless if I want a second read, but this time it’s been impossible to get a full picture from the start.

PP(this one)says:

Oop, And there are the chairs! Sometimes, it seems, my computer loads only part of the pictures and now I see it in the full I can appreciate that you weren’t showing us a somewhat undistinguished night storage heater with alarmingly large pipes, but a whole back wall. Mystery solved.

PP(this one)says:

Normally I read you in Sydney through a fog of heat and homesickness, so it is strange and strangely immediate to be reading you from Dorset (albeit through a fog of jet lag), and to know the cold whereof you speak, and the wind (which has now dropped away).

And Crewkerne, ehrmergerd! Many, many memories of that funny old town – we used to schlepp over to buy men’s factory seconds Oxfords, and rootle around the antiques shops. And Lawrence’s general sales on Wednesdays, from which you emerge, staggering under the weight of old linen sheets, or portraits, or dubious ‘ancient’ chests.

I shall earmark Montacute for another visit, and Crewkerne, of course, in all its lovely crumbling yellowness.

And speaking of colours, is it the jet lag, or has that pile of orange chairs gone missing from the pic? Ambled off, maybe, to some other pic?


The very top picture speaks to me – we have just bought a similar home above a take-away and although I love the house, I was just a bit hesitant about the take-away. The picture you have taken is charming and has helped me to see mine in a different light and to embrace it as something which adds to it, part of it. I shall skip there in less than three weeks.

Mike Elliottsays:

So cheery to see green grass and bulbs sending up shoots on a day when we had 8 inches of snow here.

Sarah Harrissays:

Amazing photos! Montacute is stunning; quite extraordinary. Architecture as a statement of power! I do wonder when our descendants look back at twenty-first century architecture, what will impress them.

Thank you so much, I know know where we will be heading for our annual holiday, ( not in school holiday season though !! )this place looks amazing.
My first time of ever writing on a blog and this one is a real delight.
Will be visiting the London store within the next couple of weeks, cannot wait.
Many thanks.

My heart stopped when I saw the orangery. If we had one, I can assure you that it would not be empty in February. As it is, I have a few large pots of herbs in front of the window in our guest room that would give their all for that amount of winter light, as would my artist husband. Thanks, as usual, Ben.


Ben, I am wondering if you made your way to Montacute because, if like many of us, you are glued to the BBCs Wolf Hall, you will know that some of the filming was done there. Both Montacute and the nearby Barrington Hall are two of England’s best surviving Elizabethan houses and as such were perfect backdrops for the series. I can’t wait to re-visit and urge all fellow Bennites to do so if they are passing. I can also vouch for the delights of the Crewkerne Antique Centre!


Ah, so good to see the OP garden, house and church again. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for these lovely photos. I’m stuck in because of rain and slush but you’ve allowed me a virtual country walk in a beautiful landscape. I’m new to your blog, is that your home? That garden is fantastic!


Snowdrops and the orangery and mature trees, just lovely! Thanks for that visual tour.

Montacute House is an absolute gem, and you had the glorious place to yourselves it seems. I feel I have particular connection with the house as my mother realised she was in the early stages of labour with me in the Montacute tea rooms! So off we went to the hospital, once the pot was finished of course.
Cheering post as always, thank you Ben.


Thank you for bringing home to me here in Australia.

Your posts are stunningly beautiful and you capture everything that is English. From the people, architeture, scenery, events. Bliss.

I’ve enjoyed this little Somerset trip and looking forward to more!

Many thanks

Jane Kapelussays:

My fave blogger you are and I am waiting to find my georgian gem for you to do your magic on. Only you can make a bleak wintry somerset day seem so utterly beautiful. What an eye you have.

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