A guide to the independent town of Wellington
- Credit: SUB
Visit Wellington for some fabulous independent shopping and much more, says Rachel Sharpe
Perfectly placed in the Vale of Taunton between the River Tone and the beautiful Blackdown Hills, Wellington has everything you could wish for in a town. Testament to this, last year The Times reported that the market town was the third-best place in Britain to live!
The bustling town centre streets are filled with flowers and people who stop to chat. A Farmers’ Market, where the produce includes locally sourced meats and cheeses, is held every first and third Saturday of the month and is incredibly popular. The spirit of the town is perhaps best encapsulated by the plethora of thriving independent shops that have vanished from many other UK high streets.
Visit Wellington to do some shopping and you certainly won’t be bored. Instead of the predictable and samey chain stores that fill some towns, Wellington’s shops are independent, distinctive and intriguing. Before the retail therapy commences, how about a cuppa, coffee, breakfast or light lunch? You’re well catered for by a range of independent coffee shops and cafés. Odette’s Tearoom on the High Street is perhaps the prettiest in the town with its vintage theme and wonderful gardens. Expect delicate teacups, fine china, pretty cake stands and most importantly excellent food and drink ranging from quiches, salads and sharing platters of local cheeses and fruit to afternoon teas and traditional cream teas with Cornish clotted cream.
Wandering down the High Street it’ll strike you that rather than spotting the independents, you have to search for stores which aren’t – it really does feel like you’ve stepped back in time. That’s not to say the shops are dated though, far from it, and you can get everything you could wish. Snob does wonderfully stylish everyday wearable clothes for women that have been handpicked from suppliers in Italy, France and Scandinavia. For those more interested in dressing their homes, on the other side of the road Pepperpot boasts a fabulous selection of vintage, antique and chic homewares and further along the street, Jilly, Tilly & Boo also has great vintage items for sale and is an Annie Sloan paint stockist and furniture painting workshop provider.
If you’re in need of everyday shops and services, Wellington has them all – from ironmongers HT Perry & Son & Granddaughter to Wet and Wild fishmongers, both on the High Street. If you’ve got a four-legged friend, visit Paws ’n’ Claws, the town’s independent pet shop, and even get them a makeover at Pampered Pooches, which shares the premises.
If you’re travelling to Wellington by car, it’s well worth taking a little drive out of the town to visit one of Wellington’s fabulous garden centres – Blackdown Garden Centre and Willowbrook Nursery & Garden Centre are both family-run and both boast a brilliant and extensive selection of locally grown plants.
While you’re in the car, if you’re in the market for a pub meal – try The Blackbird Inn, which is a well-known landmark on the way to Taunton from Wellington. It has a very traditional feel with olde worlde charm and fantastic home cooked locally sourced food.Or if you want to pick up some edible treats to take home we highly recommend popping into Rumwell Farmshop on the Taunton to Wellington road. It’s a Somerset Life Food and Drink Awards winner 2015 and the café is also fabulous.
On Mantle Street, in an imposing yet graceful Victorian building that was once a chapel is The Emporium Somerset – 40 independent shops under one roof, together boasting thousands of lovely fairly traded homeware and gift items, most made nearby. It was a passion for DIY and painting led Dutch-born mum-of-two Cato Cooper to open the boutique retail outlet in Somerset last spring. “I have my own painted furniture and home accessories studio and workshop at the front of the Emporium, and I also help run the whole store,” explains Cato who co-runs The Emporium Somerset with her husband, Sean.
“People always express delight when they pop in for the first time and see the array of items available here. I think people expect an emporium to be somewhere that’s a bit old and musty, full of old antique items, but it’s not at all like that. It is fresh, vibrant and very light and airy with lots of inspirational, contemporary items,” says Cato and we agree – The Emporium is somewhere you could easily loose a couple of hours perusing everything from painted furniture to fresh flowers, art, locally made cloth and children’s clothes.
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Wellington’s growth and prosperity dates back to the 18th century when the Fox Family built their integrated Woollen Mill. Unravel the Fox Family legacy and discover more about the town’s fascinating history while marvelling at artifacts including an Armada chest and scale model 1930s cinema, The Wellesley that you can find in Mantle Street. Entry is free.
Wellington Park is a beautiful, well landscaped public space. Given to Wellington town by the Fox family in 1903, it has been recently restored thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant. An important example of late Victorian design, the park was designed by F W Meyer of Exeter firm Veitch and Sons. A great place for a picnic.
Wellington Monument was built in honour of the Duke of Wellington and is a major landmark in the area and visible from many parts of the town. The first stone was laid in 1817 and it took until 1892 to complete. Wellington Monument is 175 ft. high and sits on the highest point of the Blackdown Hills. It’s a lovely walk up to the monument and you’re treated to splendid views across the Vale of Taunton to the Bristol Channel and Exmoor.
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