England’s cider capital is replete with characterful inns, among them a top-notch gastropub in Mells and an unaffected boozer in Witham Friary
The Talbot Inn, Mells
They take their food seriously at this lovely pub which is housed in a 15th-century coach house in Mells, a delightful little village roughly halfway between Frome and Babington. Think pub fayre at its very best: ham hock terrines with piccalilli, Brixham fish and chips, heaving plates of Sunday roast, all served up in a grand candlelit dining room. There are eight lovely rooms upstairs, some with four-poster beds and roll-top baths in the room. The pub is also a short detour from the Colliers Way cycle path which connects Frome and Radstock along a disused railway line.
From the over-the-top gilt-edged thrones to the mad taxidermy – highlights include three squirrels doing the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” routine – this Frome pub is a gloriously eccentric one-of-a-kind. In one corner there will be a book group discussing the latest Maggie O’Farrell, in another a meeting of the local Green Party, and propping up the bar a load of voluble locals ordering pints of Butcombe’s finest beer. Food-wise, the Sunday roasts are the big draw and there’s a cute little courtyard that’s lovely on a sunny day.
The Seymour Arms doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t do food, and it doesn’t do fancy. For all these reasons CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has rated it one of the most unspoiled pubs in the country with an interior of national importance. There are two rooms inside with flagstone floors, open fires and chatty locals knocking back pints of potent local cider, served from a hatch to the cellar. Bar billiards and tabletop skittles add to its timeless charm, and there’s a bird-filled beer garden out the back.
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