The Newt in Somerset, Bruton

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!

A circular fountain
One of the many fountains at The Newt

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.

Views at dusk with trees and fountains
The view from the restaurant at dusk

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.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.
Wise words from ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus.

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.

A white chicken with red comb in the herbs
A chicken amongst the rosemary bushes!

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.

A frog sculpture
This giant frog and several smaller versions squirted water!

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.

One of the fountains with expansive green views
This expansive vista reminds me of the timeless and classic landscaping of 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.

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