Tucked away deep in the countryside between Ilminster and Taunton is the picture perfect village of Isle Abbotts. Taking its name from the River Isle – which flows nearby – and Muchelney Abbey – whose lands it once sat on – Isle Abbotts is a tine village of little over 200 people.
And tucked away it is! I know I’m still fairly new to the county, but the road from Ilminster is as countrified as you get. High hedges on both sides, a strip of grass down the middle of the tarmac, battling tractors, a dog, some chickens and a Tesco lorry, it took a while to get there, but the journey was worth it.
There is a very chocolate box feel to Isle Abbotts; thatched cottages, a green, well tended gardens and cute village hall, the place is the epitome of the English country village.
There are two churches – The Blessed Virgin Mary and a baptist chapel (now a house, but the graveyard remains) – and the former is the heart of the village, as it should be. The majority of the graves are old and ornate, reminding you that the church was funded by – and therefore the domain of – the local landowners.
All the elements of a small community are there – a stone-built bus stop and information board, a hall with a stand for second-hand books, a sun-bleached telephone box, a tree planted to commemorate the Silver Jubilee in 1977.
But the bigger reminder of the connection between Isle Abbotts and the countryside around it is the farmland.
It is very easy to get right back into the countryside from the village centre, passing through farmland, you come to a bridge across the River Isle, from where a track passes to the neighbouring village of Isle Brewers.
(Smaller in population than Abbotts, Isle Brewers takes its name not from beer-making, but from the the family of William Briwere, lord of the manor in the 1200s.)
At this end of the village, the Manor Farm dominates the landscape, and you readily remember that this is what would have provided labour for the majority of the population in days gone by.
Quiet, isolated, but calm and peaceful, this is definitely a place that reminds you to get out in the sticks, get away from town and city life and enjoy the open air.