I was really intrigued to visit The Newt, which had been recommended to me by a friend. It’s actually a mere 12 miles away from where I live now and where I grew up so it’s interesting that I’d never heard of it (more on that later).
Bruton is accessible by train and is famous for it’s public schools. I know very little about the town itself so must pay it a visit sometime!
The Newt is a really classy place and quite magical, it has an appeal for all ages. There is a spa hotel and restaurant on site, but our mission was to check out the grounds.
The entrance is a long, wooden constructed path through woodland, part of which is lit up at dusk when the light fades. The gardens themselves are enchanting and surprising. The layout is really clever and takes advantage of the landscape as you keep discovering more and more.
It was all so neatly laid out and it did make me a little nervous as a mum of three, but I managed to keep the little ones under control. On reflection, I actually really appreciated that there weren’t signs everywhere with warnings to keep off growing vegetables, as this would have detracted from the ambience. I think most visitors would naturally aspire to take care here. There are however, some very wise words on little plaques amongst the flowerbeds.
There were some very plush and tame chickens and bantams and I did my very best to instruct my two-year-old not to hurry after them. We also enjoyed seeing a flock of geese.
My kids were excited to discover the areas with the frog sculptures which had inbuilt sensors that squirted water! I was pleased that they were in wellies! Another tip if you are visiting with little ones – there is a baby change area in one of the ladies loos, but there’s no sign. The addition of a sign would be really useful.
The landscape has been beautifully designed and cultivated, and it would be good to return through the changing seasons. It reminded me of the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, near Rome with it’s celebration of water and advantageous views. To me, the landscaping is evocative of English landscape architect Capability Brown.
When I returned home, I looked up The Newt online and I realised why I hadn’t heard of it, as it recently opened to the public in 2019, following it’s purchase by new owners in 2013 who have worked on it day and night.
Two facts that particularly struck me were the naming of The Newt, so called after the Great Crested, Smooth and Palmate newts that had to be carefully relocated during the recent landscaping works, it’s estimated that there are over three thousand there.
Three thousand is also the number of apple trees that grow here, the apple and cyder and very much celebrated here. The new owners are South African and we have them to thank for recognising and enhancing all that is wonderful about our beautiful county of Somerset.