A house-hunter’s guide to Somerset

It’s famed for cider, cheese and Glastonbury, but there’s much more to love about Somerset.  Alongside a popular private members’ club (Babington House) and a global gallery outfit (Hauser & Wirth), its most in-vogue country house hotel (The Newt) has helped to attract a steady stream of creative emigres. Among those embracing the county’s way of life are internationally known designers such as Alice Temperley and Bill Amberg and landscape gardeners such as Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt, whose rewilding garden won best in show at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show (which happened to be sponsored by The Newt). But from Frome via Bruton and Ilminster west to Chard

More than one bad apple: the sorry demise of English cider

Can you imagine if, in the 20th century, wine producers in France had switched from a product made (almost) entirely from grapes to something that was essentially grape-flavoured alcoholic sugar water? It’s inconceivable. In fact, they did just the opposite. To stamp out the growth of ersatz wines, the appellation contrôlée system was created, which, for all its faults, provides a guarantee that a particular wine will be made from grapes from a certain area. But there was no such regulation in England. After the second world war, large-scale cider-makers in the West Country began lowering the amount of fruit in their products, specifically characterful bittersweet cider apples, and making

George Osborne: Why I’m going into banking

Spring in Somerset — again. If someone had told me last February that I’d spend seven of the next 12 months here, I’d have explained that was impossible: I’ve always been a city boy. Three lockdowns later, and we’ve bought a home here. I love it. Snow, then snowdrops, now daffodils — and the wild garlic is coming up in the woods. Covid has converted me to the countryside. Bruton Place in Mayfair? Not for now. Bruton itself? Yes. There’s a Bruton Set, of course. They spend a lot of the time explaining why they didn’t want to be part of the Chipping Norton Set. I’ve met one of my