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.
These are some pictures from our first visit yesterday.
I can't show you any of the exhibits inside, of course, but I can take you into the new garden at the back of the gallery, opened only last week.
Designed by a Dutchman Piet Oudolf (who designed the landscape scheme for the whole site) and said to be one of the most significant and acclaimed landscape designers today, it is called Oudolf Field - a large perennial meadow, with young Kentucky Coffee Trees.
As any gardener knows, it takes time for a new garden to "knit" together, but it is already a beautiful sight of colour in the warm late summer sunshine. I look forward to seeing it next year.
You can read lots more about Durslade Farm here .
As those who read my blog know, I no longer live in that small village near Bruton. We moved last year into Shepton Mallet, but we are still only about 10 miles away and my job still takes me back to Bruton.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend! We have been having some beautiful late summer weather in our part of the world, and although raining today, it is supposed to continue for little longer.
In fact, last night DH and I set outside in our garden, with a glass of wine, late into evening, on what was probably one of the warmest evenings this summer.