The charming market town of Frome packs a dazzling collection of one-off shops in its medieval centre.
There is some limited evidence for Roman settlement of the area. The remains of a villa were found in the village of Whatley, 3 miles (5 km) to the west of Frome.
In April 2010, the Frome Hoard, one of the largest-ever hoards of Roman coins discovered in Britain, was found by a metal detectorist. The hoard of 52,500 coins dated from the third century AD and was found buried in a field near the town, in a jar 14 inches (36 cm) below the surface. The coins were excavated by archaeologists from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and some are now on display in the British Museum. The find was the subject of a BBC TV programme Digging for Britain in August 2010.
A monastery built by St. Aldhelm in 685 is the earliest evidence of Saxon occupation of Frome. The Saxon kings appear to have used Frome as a base from which to hunt in Selwood Forest and in 934 a witenagemot was held there, indicating that Frome must already have been a significant settlement. One of the first English Kings, Eadred (son of Edward the Elder), died in Frome on 23 November 955.
The manufacture of woollen cloth was established as the town’s principal industry in the 15th century, and Frome remained the only Somerset town in which this staple industry flourished. Families of clothiers gradually came to be the principal landowners in the town, with the manor of Frome itself finally passing into the ownership of a cloth merchant in 1714. From 1665 to 1725 major expansion, including the building of a new artisans’ suburb to the west of Trinity Street, occurred. Daniel Defoe remarked that the town had:
“so prodigiously increased within these last 20–30 years, that they have built a new church, and so many new streets of houses, and those houses are so full of inhabitants, that Frome is now reckoned to have more people in it than the city of Bath, and some say, than even Salisbury itself, and if their trade continues to increase for a few years more … it is likely to be one of the greatest and wealthiest towns in England” — Daniel Defoe, 1720s
Frome has undergone somewhat of a transformation in recent years, being ranked as the 6th coolest UK town to live in by The Times in March 2013. The town has a thriving arts scene. The high-point is the annual ten-day Frome Festival in July, which in recent years has included more than 160 events held at various venues in and around the town. The town is host to a number of artists, many of whom open their studios to the public during the Festival. An Artisan Market is held on Catherine Hill monthly between April and October.
The Frome & District Agricultural Society holds an annual Agricultural & Cheese Show in September. This was formerly held on the Showground at Fromefield, but in recent years has moved to West Woodland, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the south of the town.
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