Just off the A371, on the way to the famous and very scenic Cheddar Gorge, is Somerset’s smallest town. Axbridge is tiny, with only about 2,000 residents (according to the 2011 census).
This is not a place you drive through to get to the Cheddar tourist trap, you have to consciously turn off the main road to get there. Lots of people just walk past as a result.
But as soon as you turn into the town you’ll understand why it’s worth a visit – Axbridge is a visual delight. A collection of traditional half-timbered and stone buildings leads to a magnificent medieval square.
READ MORE: Cheddar: the village home to world famous cheese and one of England’s most stunning landscapes
Architecture lovers will adore the square with its jumble of buildings, each with its own story to tell – it’s honestly like something out of a movie. In the background, the Mendip Hills rise above the town, offering fine views of Cheddar Reservoir and the Somerset Levels beyond.
Take Axbridge Town Hall, for example – this Grade II listed building dates back to 1830 and stands proudly as a magnificent focal point in the historic square – which many years ago was not only the focal point many activities of the city, but also a place where the punishment was distributed.
The square housed the city’s stores and the prison. The town stocks are still in the town, but have been moved to the museum – the National Trust-owned King Johns Hunting Lodge, which is also located in the square.
This former timber-framed Tudor wool merchant’s house (circa 1500) offers a fascinating insight into local history and is well worth a visit.
However, if history isn’t really your thing, the town has some delightful pubs too. Directly across from the museum is The Lamb Inn – which seems to be very popular with locals and tourists alike.
According to Google reviewer Russ Jennings, The Lamb is well worth a visit. He said: “I visited the Lamb in Axbridge yesterday. Several times I walked past it on my way through the village and thought I should stop in one day. We drove in the early evening to a quick pint.
“I have to say I really enjoyed The Lamb. The decor was lovely and the service was excellent too. One of the very few places I found Thatchers Old Rascal on tap! The pub was very warm and j Would definitely stay there again.We loved sitting comfortably watching the fire.
You can also grab a pint or something to eat at The Oak House – a pub and hotel opposite the town hall and not far from St John’s Church in Axbridge – another 13th century listed building.
Sam Stapleford said in his Google review: “Picturesque townhouse, room number 2 had a lovely view of the square. Well-appointed rooms with fridge, coffee maker and luxury toiletries.
“The staff were excellent during dinner service, providing us with marshmallows to toast on the open fireplace. Breakfast was also delicious. Absolutely recommended!”
A monthly farmers’ market takes place in the square every second Saturday of the month. With a host of stalls you can buy a range of Somerset produce including bread, cheese, meat and fish as well as sweet and savory snacks.
So next time you’re in Cheddar Gorge, drop by Axbridge and explore this beautiful little place – you won’t regret it.