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Bruton
Bruton view from the Dovecote. St. Mary's church stands out with its grand tower. The London to Penzance railway line cuts through the town just below the hill, out of view.
Bruton taken from the Dovecote
Bruton is located in Somerset
Bruton
Bruton
Population 2,907 (2011)
OS grid reference ST684350
District
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRUTON
Postcode district BA10
Dialling code 01749
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • Somerton and Frome
List of places
UK
England
Somerset
51°06′48″N 2°27′10″W / 51.113411°N 2.452801°W / 51.113411; -2.452801

Bruton ( BROO-tən) is a market town, electoral ward, and civil parish in Somerset, England, on the River Brue and the A359 between Frome and Yeovil. It is 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Shepton Mallet, just south of Snakelake Hill and Coombe Hill, 10 miles (16 km) north-west of Gillingham and 12 miles (19 km) south-west of Frome in South Somerset district. The town and ward have a population of 2,907. The parish includes the hamlets of Wyke Champflower and Redlynch. Bruton has a museum of items from the Jurassic era onwards. It includes a table used by the author John Steinbeck on a six-month stay. The Brue is flood-prone – in 1768 it wrecked a stone bridge. The 242.8 mm of rain that fell on 28 June 1917 left a river watermark on a pub wall 20 feet above the mean. In 1984 a protective dam was built upstream.

History

The Church of St Mary, Bruton was founded by Ine of Wessex in the 7th century,

Bruton was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Briuuetone, meaning 'Vigorously flowing river' from the Old English tor and Celtic briw meaning vigour. The river has been the site of several watermills and in 2003 the South Somerset Hydropower Group installed their first hydroelectric turbine at Gants Mill at nearby Pitcombe.

It was the site of Bruton Abbey, a medieval Augustinian priory from which a wall remains in the Plox close to Bow Bridge. The priory was sold after the dissolution of the monasteries to the courtier Sir Maurice Berkeley (died 1581) whose Bruton branch of the Berkeley family converted it into a mansion which was demolished in the late eighteenth century. The Dovecote which overlooks Bruton was built in the sixteenth century. It was at one time used as a house, possibly as a watchtower and as a dovecote. It is a Grade II* listed building and ancient monument. It is managed by the National Trust. The building was once within the deerpark of the Abbey and was adapted by the monks from a gabled Tudor tower. The conversion to be a dovecote took place around 1780. It has over 200 pigeon holes.

Bruton was part of the hundred of Bruton.

Bruton is referenced in a well-known English folk song, The Bramble Briar. A very rare copy of an Inspeximus of Magna Carta was discovered in Bruton in the 1950s and claimed by King's School, Bruton. The sale of the school's copy to the Australian National Museum paid for a great deal of the building work at the school.

Much of the town's history is exhibited at the Bruton Museum. The museum is housed in the Dovecote Building, in the town's High Street. The building also contains a tourist information office. The Bruton Museum Society was formed in 1989 and involved the community and local schools in the development of the collection of local artefacts. It was initially housed in the basement of the Co-Op and then in a disused Coach House owned by the National Westminster Bank. The museum moved to its current location in 1999 after it was jointly purchased by South Somerset District Council and Bruton Town Council. The time spent in the town by John Steinbeck is commemorated in the museum. They have also organised exhibitions at King's School including one in 2008 of the work of Ernst Blensdorf. In 2010 an anonymous donor agreed to pay the rent on the building, removing earlier doubts about the future viability of the museum.

In December 2012 plans were announced by Hauser & Wirth to open a new gallery and arts centre at a derelict farm on the outskirts on Bruton.

Transport

Bruton railway station is on the Reading–Taunton line, a branch of the Great Western Main Line, between Westbury and Taunton. The route is the most direct between London (Paddington) and the West Country (ending at Penzance), but is slower for geographical reasons. The stretch between Westbury and Castle Cary is also part of the Heart of Wessex line, served by Great Western Railway services between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.

In December 2015, South West Trains introduced a rail service between London Waterloo, Salisbury and Yeovil Pen Mill, giving Bruton its first direct London service for some years.

Bus services are operated by South West Coaches.

Geography

Work to build the railway line at Bruton Railway Cutting exposed geology of the epoch of the Middle Jurassic. It is one of the best places in England to demonstrate the stratigraphic distinction of ammonites in the subcontractus zone and the morrisi zone.

The nearby Godminster Lane Quarry and Railway Cutting is another geological Site of Special Scientific Interest which is an important locality for study of the Inferior Oolite limestones, of Middle Jurassic age, laid down in a warm shallow sea some 175 million years ago. The site is unique in that the limestones seen here are much more closely comparable with rocks of similar age found in the Cotswolds than with rock sequences seen elsewhere in Somerset. However, the rocks do contain the rich assemblage of fossil ammonites which are typical of the north Dorset/south Somerset area and it is this feature, combined with the unusual limestone sequence, which makes this site unique. It is also important as a reference site for three sub-divisions (zones) of the Inferior Oolite — the laeviscula, discites and concavum Zones.

Notable residents

  • Koos Bekker (born 1952), businessman
  • Caroline Corr (born 1973), musician
  • Cameron Mackintosh (born 1946), knight bachelor, musical theatre producer
  • Iwan Wirth (born 1970), art dealer
  • Joe Wright, director and Haley Bennett, actress
  • Sarah Beeny (born 1972), property developer and TV personality

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