Frome is a small town with a big heart that's unique among Somerset settlements for its size and history. It has a population of 28,559 as of 2021. and its area covers 8.3 square miles (21 km2) and it's also one of the oldest towns in England, dating back to Saxon times when it was established as an important trading centre. It has a medieval street plan, with many historic buildings.  It has a rich history, the kind that attracts history buffs. 

Frome’s location

The town is located at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, on the River Frome to the south of the Mendip Range and to the north of Radstock in eastern Somerset, England. Frome is located roughly 13 miles (21 km) south of Bath and 43 miles (69 km) east of Taunton. It is also 107 miles (172 km) from London.

A brief history of Frome

Frome was first mentioned in writing as "Froham" in 927 AD but as "Frome" by 1179 AD when it was also referred to as "Froom". The name Frome comes from the Brythonic word “fraw”, meaning fair or market. The town lies between Bath and Warminster and developed along the route of the Fosse Way, the Roman road linking Exeter to Lincoln. The Fosse Way was a major route for trade and communication that was used between 148 AD and 400 AD. It was also used as a military road by soldiers during Roman times.

Frome in the Middle Ages

Frome has been associated with two major industries: milling and wool production. It was originally founded as a Roman fort, then grew into a market town in the Middle Ages. In 1763 it became the first in England to be illuminated by gaslight (the remains of this can still be seen today). Frome later grew into an industrial centre, but now has a thriving arts scene and hosts regular festivals including Frome Festival and Frome Fringe Festival.

Frome in the 21st century

Frome is a great place to visit. There are lots of shops, restaurants and cafes where you can find anything from clothes to food, art and theatre performances. There are also a lot of outdoor activities including walking, cycling and horse racing at the Frome racecourse.

Frome is a market town with a thriving independent community and culture, located in Somerset and close to the borders of Wiltshire, Devon and Dorset. The town has been named one of the top places to live in 2018, as well as being named one of Time Out’s best weekend breaks from London.
Frome market

Let’s dive deeper into what makes Frome so special in the modern days.

    • 1 Frome is named one of Time Out’s best weekend breaks from London

  • The town has been named one of Time Out’s best weekend breaks from London in 2022 alongside Edinburgh, The Scottish Highlands, Manchester, The Lake District, and other famous destinations.

    If you are taking a train, it takes 2 hours from London Paddington station, or 2 hours 30 minutes if you are driving.

    • 2 Frome is a National Great Town Award Winner 

  • Frome won The Great Town Award in 2016 - the Award recognised the town’s “innovation and excellence in all aspects of urbanism”. Some of the areas that were highlighted are:

    • A supportive authority that truly cares about the town and its communities;
    • Great response to environmental issues;
    • Historic heritage and cultural opportunities;
    • The vibrant independent retail sector; 
    • And Monthly Frome Independent Market;

    Frome Welcome

    • 3 It is also named one of the best places to live in in 2018

  • Frome, England is the perfect place to live if you enjoy history. The town was founded in about 1086 and has been a popular destination for tourists and locals ever since. It's also home to an impressive number of festivals, events, and activities that draw thousands of people each year.

    Frome is known for having many beautiful parks and gardens, including one of the largest in Europe: Victoria Park. While you're out enjoying the greenery, be sure to stop by one of their many cafes or restaurants where they serve delicious food.

    • 4 Frome is home to the highest percentage of independent shops in the UK

  • There are over 1,000 independent retailers and food outlets in Frome, all with their own individual character and charm. They have a wide selection of products, they're more likely to be locally owned, and they're also more likely to support local charities and arts organisations.

    The town has a long history of supporting local businesses, which helps to maintain its unique identity. In fact, Frome has been voted one of the best places to live in Britain multiple times due to its high-quality shops, restaurants and services.

    There are many small cafes, pubs, local food shops, and restaurants within a short walk of the centre. You can find plenty of places to eat, drink and shop in the town. There are many small art galleries and museums in Frome, as well as places to buy local produce.

    • 5 One of the oldest family-run jewellery businesses in the UK is located in Frome

  • One of the oldest family-run jewellery businesses is located in Frome, Somerset. Charles Hart Jewellers are one of the UK’s oldest family-run businesses - they are over 200 years old, and were originally in Palmer Street around 1896, moving to Bath Street around 1920.

    The business is still owned within the Hart family, and are direct descendants from the original founder.
    Charles Hart Jewellers

    The store sells a wide range of jewellery that are usual with a High Street Jeweller, with watch brands including Seiko and Bering. The business also has a strong online presence with its Antique and Pre-owned range, and this under the website, stocking one of the largest selections in the UK. More information about Charles Hart can be found on

    • 6 Frome hosts the oldest running outdoor market in Europe

  • The town is known for its weekly market, which has been held every Thursday since 1268. This makes it one of the longest-running markets in the country. The market has been held on the High Street since 1316 when permission was granted by Edward II to allow stalls to be erected there.

    Frome market

    In 1831 a new purpose-built Market Hall was constructed on the High Street. It was demolished in 1973 and replaced with an open-air market site next to the Guildhall (now used for car parking).

    Since then there have been several attempts to move Frome's weekly market elsewhere but these have all failed due to a lack of support from traders and residents alike who prefer their trade carried out on foot rather than by car or bus.

    There are over 150 stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes, jewellery and antiques. Saturdays are busiest days for traders when there will be around 1,000 people at the market each time.

    • 7 Festivals in Frome attract thousands of visitors

  • Festivals in Frome are a great way to celebrate this special town. They have been going for hundreds of years, and now attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.

    Famous annual festivals include:

    • Frome Festival - The biggest event in Frome, with over 600 events taking place over two weeks. The Frome Festival has been running since 1990 and was started by local residents. It lasts for ten days every July and attracts many famous musicians such as Billy Bragg, John Cooper Clarke and The Magic Numbers as well as the contemporary folk band The Young'uns who hail from Frome themselves.
    • Frome Carnival - The Frome Carnival is a fun-filled weekend that takes place every year in September. The carnival has been running since 1929 and has grown from strength to strength over the years. Visitors can expect live music, dance troupes, food stalls, street performers and much more.
    • Christmas in Frome - Christmas in Frome is an annual event held in December where festive lights are switched on by local celebrities. Visitors can enjoy Christmas markets, live music and entertainment throughout the town centre.
    • 8 A Rich industrial heritage

  • Frome was once a centre of the Somerset woollen industry and has been home to many mills, including the world’s first purpose-built railway station. It also boasts a rich industrial heritage, with over 100 buildings on its Heritage Trail and 370 listed buildings altogether. In fact, Frome has the largest number of listed buildings per head in the UK outside London.

    The number of listed buildings makes up over half of all properties in Frome - at 51%. This compares to an average figure across England which stands at just 21%.

    • 9 Excellent rail and local transport links

  • Frome is on the main rail route between London and the South West. There are frequent trains to Bath and Bristol, as well as many other places including Swindon, Oxford, Reading and Weston-Super-Mare. You can get a bus from Frome to most places in Somerset.

    The local buses run up to every 20 minutes during peak times on weekdays - even more frequently at weekends. In addition, there are good cycling facilities for those who want to cycle into town or back home again after work or shopping trips.

    There are plenty of walking routes around Frome, too; you can enjoy a stroll along the Frome Valley Walk or take a detour through some of the lovely parks.

    • 10 The town has plenty of things to discover

  • Frome is a small town, but there’s plenty to discover. Walk around the town centre and take in the sights, sounds and smells of Frome's unique shopping experience. Walk up to Castle Street, where you can find several historic buildings including St Bartholomew’s Church (14th century), Bridge House (14th century) and The County Hall Museum & Art Gallery (19th century).

    Walk up The Hanging, which has a great view over the town and beyond.

    Walk down to the river Frome - this part of the walk is particularly beautiful because you get such a good view of some stunning scenery.

    Frome Park

    Walk along the canal - this section runs through meadows which are home to many different species of birds including swans and ducks! You might even spot an otter swimming in one of the pools along this route if you're lucky.

    • 11 Live music venues to enjoy

  • Frome has a number of venues for live music. The town hosts the Frome Festival in July, which showcases some pretty stellar national and international acts.

    If you’re visiting the area outside of the festival season, there are still plenty of options for enjoying live music! In addition to the festivals, Frome also offers free concerts held throughout the year at various locations around the town.

    A few examples include “Frome Rocks” on Thursdays at The Pump Room Pub and Saturdays at St James Church as well as events at other pubs like The Old Firehouse Inn on Tuesdays; all these shows are free.

    In addition to its many pubs with regular performances (including one where they have local musicians come to play every Wednesday), Frome also has jazz clubs: Strange Brew Bar and Blues Jam House Club & Restaurant. Both feature weekly performances by talented musicians from around the country.

    Interesting fact: Frome is full of surprises - first one happened in 2017 when Foo Fighters played a secret gig in Frome; Sir Paul McCarney made an impromptu appearance at a Cheese and Grain venue in the town when he needed somewhere to warm up before him headlining Glastonbury in June 2022.

    • 12 Theatres

  • If you are a theatre lover and you want to experience something new, then Frome has a lot to offer. There are two theatres in the town:

    • The Arts Centre, which is one of the largest venues in Frome and has been awarded ‘Theatre of the Year’ by The Stage;
    • There's also a caravan park at Footsbarn Theater, which is a theatre company based in Frome. The park has cabins, yurts and tipis you can rent as well as a bar and restaurant. You can also bring your own caravan or campervan to stay in.
    • 13 Historic sites, museums and galleries to explore

  • Frome is home to many interesting museums, including the Museum of Somerset on the High Street which features displays about local history dating back thousands of years! If you love nature, this museum will be especially enjoyable because it focuses on animals such as birds and insects found locally in Somerset County.

    It is open every day except Monday between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM (last entry 2:15 PM). It will take approximately 1 hour to visit this museum which includes Reading Room displays as well as collections of local artefacts, maps, books, etc.

    You can also visit other museums such as The Cheese Room at Abbey Farm Shop where they teach their visitors how cheese is made or Westpoint Tower where they show off pictures from when they were building submarines during World War II.

    Frome's historic sites include the White Hart Inn, which is thought to be one of the oldest inns in Britain, and the Market House. There are also plenty of churches, ancient buildings and ruins to explore. Some of these aren't open to the public, but you can still get a good look at them from the outside if you like.

    Sundays are a great day to visit museums and historic sites in Frome. Lots of them have free admission on Sundays, so it's easy to explore the town without spending too much money. You can also see more than one museum in a day, or visit a local church or castle.
    Frome Museum

    If art is your thing then look no further than these amazing galleries located near Frome Town Hall on North Street:

    • Goldsmiths Gallery showcases jewellery collections made by artists from around the world;
    • Solstice Sculpture Garden hosts sculptures designed specifically for this garden (it's beautiful!)
    • 14 The town is twinned with Rödental in Germany, Pithiviers in France and Rabka-Zdroj in Poland.

  • Rödental is a small town in Germany, near the Czech border. It has a population of roughly 5,000 and is known for its beer brewery, which produces "Schwarzkopf" beer.

    Pithiviers is a town in central France, near Paris. The population of this town was around 18,000 as of 2014.

    Rabka-Zdroj is located in Lesser Poland Voivodeship in southern Poland, about 50 km (31 miles) north-east of Kraków. The population of Rabka-Zdroj is estimated to be 5,000 people.

    • 15 It is home to a man who made the first machine-made paper in England

  • The town of Frome is home to a man who made the first machine-made paper in England. Henry Fourdrinier was born in Frome and moved to London in 1801. He had worked with his father and two brothers before that, but it wasn't until he moved away that he got the idea for making the first machine-made paper.

    His machine used rags instead of cotton, which was a more expensive option than using cotton. However, the rag was at least available throughout most of Europe and North America at the time because people used them as cleaning cloths or curtains in their homes (the word "rag" comes from an old Norse word meaning "to tear"). Therefore, this new way of making paper would have been more widely available than a shop selling only cotton cloth.

    To conclude

    Frome is a beautiful town with lots to see and do. The perfect place for a long weekend or even longer if you can manage it.

    The town has a long history, stretching back to the Bronze Age and Roman times. The architecture is stunning and there are plenty of quirky shops and cafes, as well as great places to eat, drink and stay. You can visit the famous Frome Market on Saturdays or take a walk around the town centre.

    If you want to see more of Somerset, Frome is the perfect base. You can take a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge or visit Cheddar Gorge, which has some of the best caves in Europe. For families, there are plenty of activities on offer at Frome Leisure Centre including swimming pools and an indoor play area for toddlers.

    If you like walking, Frome has many footpaths and cycle routes to explore. You can walk along the River Frome or take a stroll around the town centre.
    River Frome

    So, if you’re looking for a great place to spend a few days exploring some of the best things about England, we recommend Frome. It has history, culture and entertainment all wrapped up in one.



    December 05, 2022 — CG Hart