A Very Nice Town
is a very nice town. In fact, it's so nice, the name is pronounced "Froom, actually".
The town is set in the steep-sided valley of the River Frome (Celtic, meaning "bright, fine"), so it's streets are all ups and downs, steps and slopes. Its views are intimate and quirky. The buildings mould themselves to the shape of the landscape and to the curve of the streets.
There are a couple of homes, down along the river in Willow Vale, that I'd cheerfully wrestle gorillas for. Quiet, secluded, full of character, heart-breakingly beautiful - and only ten minutes from a well-stocked supermarket. Heaven.
Astonishingly, I discover (May '98) that there's a cottage for sale on Willow Vale for only £45,000. Mind you, the estate agent's blurb describes it as having "considerable character", which sounds expensive to fix. Perhaps I'd be better off wrestling those gorillas.Frome is a really old town. Occupation of this site can be fairly accurately dated to around 685, when St. Adhelm founded a monastic mission here. His aim was to "civilise" this area of Selwood Forest, which harboured gangs of outlaws and ruffians. The town grew up around this focus. Very little of detail is known about the next four centuries, but by the time of Domesday, Frome already had a prosperous market.
There is considerable evidence of even older occupation nearby. A mile or so down-river, the Frome joins with the River Mells. At that site, now known as Spring Gardens, several important trackways met, and there was some form of permanent settlement here as far back as the late Stone Age.
It is not clear whether there was a settlement there at the time of Adhelm's mission. I have heard a story that this Christian foundation was built on top of an existing pagan site, but that seems very unlikely, since the local Celts would have been Christian for a lot longer than Adhelm's Anglo-Saxons. It's just possible that a gang of renegade Anglos had reverted to their ancestral Woden-worship, but I don't think that fits the "New Age" legend.