Another lovely small town in Somerset

We’re usually busy people, classes, groups, meeting friends, but we’ve had a couple of days recently where we think to ourselves well, what shall we do today? Let’s take a picnic and go on an adventure! We’ve lived in Somerset for nearly twenty years, and been associated with it though family living her for much, much longer.

The other day we went to Bruton, a pretty town with meandering streets and little alleys leading down to the River Brue called bartons. This must be a local Somerset name for an alley because we saw another barton today when we went further south to visit the ancient town of Crewkerne.

Crewkerne is another attractive town and we had a very pleasant day just wandering around, going into several of the many antique shops, having a picnic by the beautiful church of St Bartholomew, and finding a wonderful delicatessen and an equally wonderful second-hand book shop. The town is on the River Parrett, which we know better downstream where it flows into Bridgwater Bay just south of Burnham-on-Sea.

Crewkerne is an ancient town – as you can tell from its name – ‘Crewk-‘ is either derived from ‘cruc’ which is a very old British word for the spur hill or ‘crook’ meaning a cross, and ‘-erne’ the Old English word aera which was a house, building or store. The town belonged to Alfred the great who passed it to his son, and eventually it was in possession of a mistress of King Harold who was defeated at the Battle of Hastings. Whatever its original meaning the town itself developed into a busy market town; however what began as a fabric making industry using locally grown flax at first, developed into a major sail and webbing producer, producing sails for many Royal Navy ships.

We learnt this in the excellent little museum; it’s one of those friendly museums with different displays of  aspects of the town history. My featured image is looking from the window into the little courtyard with its array of old signs. There was a display about Ralph Reader, the actor, theatrical producer and songwriter, who was born in Crewkerne; however he ended up in Newhaven and went to school with my father-in-law – small world! There was a small room set up as a late 40’s early 50’s kitchen which I found interesting because of course the book I’m writing at the moment is set in that period.

We had our picnic lunch, as I mentioned, sitting on a bench opposite the  church of St Bartholomew. A church was on that site at the time of King Alfred, but the building there today, which is very elegant and attractive, is mostly fifteenth and sixteenth century, built on a Norman church which replaced the old ‘minster’.

If you get a chance to visit this lovely town very near the border with Dorset, then i do recommend you do so – and make sure you have enough time to see everything! There were several places we didn’t explore… so i guess we will have to return!

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