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Bruton view from the Dovecote. St. Mary's church stands out with its grand tower. The London to Penzance railway line cuts through past the town just below the hill out of view.
Bruton taken from the Dovecote
Bruton is located in Somerset
Location within Somerset
Population2,907 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceST684350
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBRUTON
Postcode districtBA10
Dialling code01749
PoliceAvon and Somerset
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°06′48″N 2°27′10″W / 51.113411°N 2.452801°W / 51.113411; -2.452801Coordinates: 51°06′48″N 2°27′10″W / 51.113411°N 2.452801°W / 51.113411; -2.452801

Bruton (/ˈbrtən/ BROO-tən) is a town, electoral ward, and civil parish in Somerset, England, on the River Brue and on 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.[1] The parish includes the hamlets of Wyke Champflower and Redlynch. Bruton has a museum of items from its past from the Jurassic onwards. It includes a table used by the author John Steinbeck on a six-month stay. The River Brue has a history of flooding. In 1768 it destroyed a stone bridge.[2] On 28 June 1917, 242.8 mm of rain fell in 24 hours,[3] leaving a watermark on a pub 20 feet above mean level.[4] In 1984 a protective dam was built 1 km upstream.[5]


The Church of St Mary, Bruton was founded by Ine of Wessex in the 7th century,[6]

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.[7] 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.[8][9]

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 then demolished in the late 18th century.[10] 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[11] and ancient monument.[12][13] It is managed by the National Trust. The building was once within the deerpark of the Abbey. It was adapted by the monks from a gabled Tudor tower.[14] The conversion to be a dovecote took place around 1780.[15] It has over 200 pigeon holes.[16]

Bruton was part of the hundred of Bruton.[17]

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

Much of the town's history is shown at the Bruton Museum in the Dovecote Building in the High Street, along with a tourist information office.[18] Bruton Museum Society, formed in 1989, involves the community and local schools in developing the collection of local artefacts. It was initially housed beneath the Co-Op, then in a disused coach house owned by a bank. The museum moved in 1999 to its current location, which was jointly purchased by South Somerset District Council and Bruton Town Council.[19][20] The time spent in the town by John Steinbeck is commemorated in the museum. It has also organised exhibitions at King's School, including one in 2008 of the work of Ernst Blensdorf.[21] In 2010 an anonymous donor agreed to pay the rent on the building, removing earlier doubts about its future viability.[22]

In December 2012 plans were announced by Hauser & Wirth to open a gallery and arts centre at a derelict farm on the outskirts on Bruton.[23] This occurred on 14 September 2014.[24]


The town council has responsibility for local issues. It sets an annual precept (local rate) to cover its operating costs and produces annual accounts for public scrutiny. The town council evaluates local planning applications and works with local police, district council officers and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security and traffic. It initiates projects for maintaining and repairing parish facilities, and consults with the district council on maintenance, repair and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also covered.

The town falls within the Non-metropolitan district of South Somerset formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 It had previously been part of Wincanton Rural District.[25] The district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and costliest local services, such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.

Bruton falls in the Somerton and Frome county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system.


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.


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.[26]

The nearby Godminster Lane Quarry and Railway Cutting is another geological Site of Special Scientific Interest, for study of the Inferior Oolite limestones, of the 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 more closely comparable with rocks of similar age found in the Cotswolds than with rock sequences seen elsewhere in Somerset. However, the rocks contain the rich assemblage of fossil ammonites typical of the north Dorset/south Somerset area. This feature, along with the unusual limestone sequence, makes the site unique. It is also important as a reference for three sub-divisions (zones) of the Inferior Oolite – the laeviscula, discites and concavum Zones.[27]


Both the 14th-century Church of St Mary,[28] and the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Wyke Champflower,[29] dated at 1623, are Grade I listed buildings.

John Wesley preached in Bruton in 1776. A Methodist chapel at West End was opened in 1848.[30] The congregation was served by the Somerset Mission Circuit and more recently by the Somerset Mendip Circuit.[31]


Bruton is known for three popular secondary schools – King's School, Bruton (founded 1519); Sexey's School (founded 1889); and Bruton School for Girls (Sunny Hill) (founded 1900). Each has a sixth form, and a tradition of boarding.

One of Bruton's notable historic characters was Hugh Sexey (1556–1619), who was born in the local area and attended Bruton Grammar School. By the age of 43 he had been appointed as Royal auditor of the Exchequer to Queen Elizabeth I and later King James I. After his death the trustees of his will established Sexey's Hospital in Bruton as an institution to care for the elderly. Sexey's trust was mainly involved with educational causes. The politician behind the Education Act 1902, Henry Hobhouse, MP (1854–1937), was involved in the founding of Sexey's School and Sunny Hill.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  2. ^ Singh, Vijay P. (15–18 December 2003). Watershed Hydrology: Proceedings of the International Conference on Water and Environment. Bhopal, India: Allied Publishers. pp. 426, 485–488. ISBN 978-81-7764-547-7.
  3. ^ "The Boscastle storm of August 2004 and other heavy rainfall events of the last century in the area". Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  4. ^ Simons, Paul (27 June 2007). "June's freak downpours have historical precedent". The Times. London. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  5. ^ Clark, Colin (2004). "Real-time flood forecasting". International Water Power and Dam Construction website. Progressive Media Markets Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 April 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  6. ^ "Welcome". St Mary's Bruton. Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  7. ^ Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimborne, Dorset: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1-874336-03-2.
  8. ^ Mirage and oasis: Energy choices in an age of global warming Archived 30 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, New Economics Foundation, ISBN 1-904882-01-3, published June 2005, accessed 11 June 2007
  9. ^ Case Study – Gants Mill Archived 12 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine, British Hydropower Association, published 2004, accessed 11 June 2007.
  10. ^ Adkins, Lesley and Roy (1992). A Field Guide to Somerset Archaeology. Wimborne, Dorset: Dovecote Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-946159-94-7.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Dovecote about 370 metres South of Bruton Church (1056424)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Dovecote, about 370 metres South of Bruton Church (also known as Pigeon Tower), Park Wall (North side), Bruton". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Bruton Abbey". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  14. ^ Greeves, Lydia (2013). Houses of the National Trust. London: National Trust Books. p. 364. ISBN 9781907892486.
  15. ^ "Tower, S of the church, Bruton". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Bruton Dovecote". Somerset Routes. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Bruton Hundred". A History of Britain. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  18. ^ "Bruton Museum". South Somerset Council. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Revenue Grant Requests – Bruton Museum and Wincanton Museum and History Society" (PDF). South Somerset Council. Retrieved 9 November 2010.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Museum". Bruton Town. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  21. ^ "BRUTON MUSEUM AT KINGS SCHOOL Blensdorf Retrospective". Galleries UK. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  22. ^ "Anonymous donor ends museum's woes". Somerset Guardian. 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  23. ^ Brown, Mark (16 December 2012). "Hauser & Wirth to open new art gallery in Somerset". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  24. ^ "Doors Open at Hauser & Wirth Somerset – Arts :: Country Calling | Country Calling". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Wincanton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Archived from the original on 5 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  26. ^ English Nature citation sheet for the site Archived 10 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 7 August 2006.
  27. ^ English Nature citation sheet for the site Archived 13 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 10 August 2006.
  28. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Mary (1056408)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2007.
  29. ^ Historic England. "Church of the Holy Trinity (1366339)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2007.
  30. ^ "British history online". Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  31. ^ Churches. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  32. ^ a b c d e Neate, Rupert (10 July 2020). "'This isn't really Somerset': how the rich took over Bruton". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  33. ^ "Knowing me, Knowing you: Sarah Beeny and Graham Swift". The Independent. London. 15 November 2011.

External links[edit]