Bruton was already well known for its independent schools, but not really on any large scale map.
On our way to Bruton, some 3 miles away, depending which route we took, we would pass an old dilapidated farm on the edge of the town, dating back to 1760s, now left abandoned and slowly falling apart. This is not such an unusual sight in the country, but we thought it was a shame, as this was obviously once a beautiful set of buildings. But like everything, if you see it often enough, you don't notice it anymore.
But someone did notice it, the makers of the film Chocolat. Do you remember Judi Dench, in the role of the grandmother, and her birthday party? It was filmed here, the middle of Durslade Farm.
But after that the farm went to sleep again.....
Few years ago a new family moved into our small village, buying another old farm property, renovating it and making it their new home. There was a village "telegraph", of course, about who the newcomers are, and there was a talk of a wealthy Swiss art dealer.
But there were bigger things to come. Iwan Wirth and his wife Manuela (Hauser) as our new neighbors were called, are in fact Houser & Wirth, with art galleries in Zurich, London and New York. They bought Durslade Farm, and 2 years ago got a planning permission to develop it into a gallery and art centre.
Houser & Wirth Somerset opened its doors in July this year, putting Bruton firmly on the art world map, with Zurich, London and New York, which the full car park yesterday, including some foreign number plates, confirms. The gallery (free admission) is and will be displaying works by famous artists, but hopefully will also be a showcase for local artists and wonderful opportunity for local schools.
There already is a restaurant on the site, and a farm shop being planned for next year.