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Local News

March 2018

A Celebration of Flowers: Kaffe Fassett with Candace Bahouth at the Victoria Art Gallery 

19 May-2 September 2018

Internationally renowned colour expert and fabric designer Kaffe Fassett will make a welcome return to Bath in May with a new exhibition at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Victoria Art Gallery. When Fassett and Candace Bahouth last showed here in 2008 the Gallery welcomed a record-breaking 31,000 visitors. 

Inspired by flowers all his life, Fassett will demonstrate his full creative flair in this stunning new exhibition, A Celebration of Flowers. With a bespoke dazzling colour scheme to match, the installation will transform the Gallery using 40 of his vibrant coloured quilts and needlepoints. 

The show will also feature colourful mosaiced island gardens, benches, totems, mirror frames, shoes, flower encrusted candlesticks and a chandelier by one of Fassett’s long-term collaborators, fellow American Candace Bahouth, who is based in Somerset. Many of these works are on a large scale and extend the floral theme into three dimensions.

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “These two stunning exhibitions will appeal to a wide range of audiences, both residents and visitors, when they show at the gallery over the summer and I hope attract as many, if not more, visitors as the last time.”

Kaffe Fassett said: “Since colour is my obsession in art, I am fascinated by flowers as a subject. This show celebrates my recent book on the floral world called Bold Blooms.”

Candace Bahouth said: “My encrusted mosaics are inspired by nature, ceramics and textiles. Come and be immersed. Escape, dream, reflect…in a world of fantasy, pattern, colour and delight!”


Cheddar Caves Stage Unique Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt

A team of expert cavers has been enlisted to hide a clutch of giant glow in the dark eggs at Cheddar Gorge and Caves as part of a unique subterranean Easter Egg Hunt (March 24th-April 8th).

The cavers had to rig up abseil ropes in order to secrete some of the 50 illuminated eggs dotted throughout the Gough’s Cave system, which runs below the Mendip Hills in Somerset.

The multi-coloured eggs are concealed at different subterranean landmarks in the showcaves which include; ‘The Fonts, The Chimney, The Workings, The Grand Staircase and Saint Paul’s Cathedral’.

“We wanted to provide our own unique egg hunt for visitors to the caves over the Easter holidays,” said Operations Manager Leon Troake.

“It took us an entire day to get all 50 of the eggs distributed throughout the caves but the end result is really impressive; particularly when you switch off all the lights!” he added.

Gough’s Cave is 115 metres deep and contains several impressive rock formations; it’s also the location for the Cheddar Yeo, the largest underground river system in Britain.

Between 1892 and 1898 Richard Cox Gough, who lived in Lion House in Cheddar, found, excavated and opened to the public further areas of the cave, up to Diamond Chamber, which is the end of the show cave today. 

Electric lighting was installed in the show caves in 1899.

Thomas Thynne, 5th Marquess of Bath, took over the caves at the beginning of the twentieth century and it remains part of the Longleat Estate to this day.

The caves have a long connection with humans dating back over 10,000 years.

In 1903 the remains of a human male, since named Cheddar Man, were found a short distance inside Gough's Cave. He is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, having been dated to approximately 7150 BCE.


The Hungry Dragon Opens at The Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace in Wells is opening a brand new snack bar in its historic Gardens.

Following the successful launch of The Dragon’s Lair play area, in the Arboretum of the Gardens, in Autumn 2016, the area has become hugely popular with tourists and locals alike.

Having listened to feedback from visitors, a toilet facility was opened next to The Dragon’s Lair in October 2017 and the latest development is in response to requests from visitors for a refreshment provision in the same area.

The facility will be called The Hungry Dragon and will be selling refreshments and light snacks, such as hot and cold drinks, chocolate/snack bars, ice creams and a selection of savoury items such as sausage rolls, pasties and quiche.

The café will be open from 11:30am-3:30pm on Wednesdays, Saturday, Sundays and all School Holidays and Bank Holidays.

Parents will be able to enjoy a hot coffee whilst the children are entertaining themselves on the play equipment, and little ones will be able to re-fuel with a delicious snack in between enjoying the delights of The Dragon’s Lair.

The Hungry Dragon will launch at 11:30am on Saturday 24th March, to mark the beginning of the Easter Holidays.


New Views of Wells as Platform Opens on Palace Ramparts

The Bishop’s Palace in Wells will offer a new perspective on the historic centre of the City with its new Prison Bastion Viewing Platform, due to open on Good Friday, 30th March.

Part of the mission of The Palace Trust - the trust which operates the day to day running of The Bishop’s Palace site - is to continue to open up parts of the historic building which were previously inaccessible to the public. The Prison Bastion project began in 2017 with the intention of allowing members of the public to climb up on top of the turret and gain a unique view over Moat, Palace Green and the Cathedral.

The Bastion has always been a popular site for children to explore, with its dark room, which has previously been used as a potato store.  Bishop Ralph is credited with adding the moat and curtain walls, obtaining the license that permitted him to build a wall around the grounds, crenellate and build the bastions in 1330.

It is thought that he may have been motivated in part by concern about his personal safety in a period of occasional lawlessness between bishops and seculars. Defences such as these were also an architectural fashion statement of the time.

The bastions around the site contain narrow wall walks (now accessible to the public for the first time with the opening of this bastion) and the North West or Prison bastion contains rooms. In the early 19th century, the upper room was used as a garden oratory. The bishop’s prison is sometimes stated to have been housed here – especially for any member of the household who returned from a night’s revels in town the worse for wear.

As the Prison Bastion Viewing Platform is located in the Free Area of the site, members of the public will be able to access this new attraction for free, and it is adjacent to the award-winning Bishop’s Table Café for those looking to spend a little longer in the area.

The project to install this platform was part-funded by a generous private donor along with contributions from the Palace entrance ticket and café income.

Rosie Martin, Chief Executive of The Palace Trust says “We are delighted to have finished this project, which fulfils one of our objectives; to welcome even more visitors to parts of the Palace that have never been accessed before. We continue to plan future areas for development, including the interior of the Palace, the Gardens and a new café in the Dragon’s Lair, and we are always interested in hearing from anyone who might wish to help us to achieve these aims.”


Bath Society of Artists 113th Annual Exhibition 

Saturday 24 March to Saturday 12 May 2018

The prestigious Bath Society of Artists annual exhibition will open at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Art Gallery on Saturday 24 March. 

Now in its 113th year, this popular exhibition showcases the best of the region’s artistic talent. Any artist aged 18 or over can submit work for possible selection. All of the artworks are for sale.

Last year, there were 800 entries, from which 399 were selected for an exciting exhibition that attracted more than 16,000 visitors. 

Councillor Paul Myers, Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “The Bath Society of Artists exhibition is a wonderful showcase for talented local artists. A wide variety of works will be on show, from paintings and drawings to sculptures, by established and up-and-coming artists. Local residents can see the exhibition for free with a Discovery Card, and visitors will have a chance to vote for their favourite artwork in the Public Choice Prize.”

Susanna Lisle, Chair of Bath Society of Artists, said: “The show is a fantastic mix of artworks in the widest variety of styles. It is a selling exhibition with prices to suit all buyers, showcasing work that is both an investment as well as a pleasure to look at.”

The Society was founded in 1904 with 26 members. It has grown over the years to a membership of about 120 diverse, talented artists. Many distinguished twentieth-century painters have exhibited with the Society including Walter Sickert, John Singer Sargent, Philip Wilson Steer, Gilbert Spencer, Patrick Heron, Mary Fedden, William Scott and Howard Hodgkin.

The prizes on offer total more than £3,000, and include the Bath Society of Artists Prize of £1,000, the Pegasus Art prize of £350 for materials, the Bath Society of Artists 3D Prize of £250, and the Harry Walker RWA Young Artist Prize of £250, awarded to artists aged 18 to 25. There are also smaller prizes for prints, watercolours, small paintings and drawings. 

During the exhibition, members of the public will be invited to vote for their favourite artwork, with the winner of the Bath Society of Artists Public Choice Prize receiving £500.

To enter, artists must submit their work at the Victoria Art Gallery on Saturday 17th March between 10.30am and 4pm. Exhibits may be paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints or mixed media. Digital prints and collaborative artworks can be submitted. No photography or Giclée reproductions will be accepted. 


Join us this Easter Weekend at Kilver Court

Kilver Court Designer Village in Shepton Mallet is holding an Easter weekend family extravaganza between Friday 30 March and Monday 2 April. This year will see the return of Kilver Court’s hugely successful Easter Egg Hunt where children are challenged with finding nine giant decorated eggs hidden within the 3.5 acre garden. Children who complete the Easter Egg Hunt will be rewarded with chocolate treats whilst accompanying parents will also be treated to a free Easter biscuit with any takeaway hot drink from the Sharpham Pantry restaurant. 

Across the Easter weekend, Kilver Court will also be holding its first ever Henri Lloyd warehouse sale. Held in the onsite ballroom, there’ll be thousands of items to shop including menswear, womenswear, accessories and sailing-gear, all with up to 80% off.

Elsewhere in the Village, there’ll be a site-wide sale with further discounts across dozens of brands. There’ll be bargain knitwear from Pringle of Scotland, beautiful new Spring/Summer collections from TOAST and Jack Wills, the opportunity to shop the range of Garden Trading outdoor furniture and accessories with 20% off and much, much more. 

At the gift and lifestyle shop ‘The Great House,’ there’ll be a whole host of Easter accessories to dress your home with including Easter tree decorations, bonnets and everything you’ll need for a spectacular Easter Egg Hunt. Foodies will be able to buy a tempting selection of homemade goodies including spelt hot cross buns and delicious, artisan chocolate eggs. There’ll also be plenty of chocolate treats and Easter-themed sweets for the little ones as well as free cheese, chocolate and wine tastings for the grown-ups.


Ston Easton Park Launches One-of-a-Kind Day to Help Inspire Artists in Somerset

Ston Easton Park, a luxurious Palladian country house hotel in Somerset, is throwing open its gates to aspiring and professional artists this March with the launch of ‘Art in the Park’: an inspirational day for creative minds to draw and paint the striking landscaped grounds.

The gardens at Ston Easton Park were designed by renowned eighteenth-century landscape architect, Humphrey Repton, and are the perfect inspiration for budding Monets to capture the stunning displays of luscious greenery, secret grottos and the cascading River Norr.  

Artists of all abilities are welcome to bring their stool and tools of choice for the fun-filled day and a delicious selection of sweet and savoury treats, lovingly prepared with home-grown, local ingredients, will also be available to purchase.

This one-of-a-kind creative event is free of charge; however, donations will be gratefully accepted for a selection of charities, including Dorothy House. 

Ston Easton Park’s ‘Art in the Park’ will take place on Saturday 24th March and Sunday 25th March 2018 - 10am until late.

For more information on Ston Easton Park, please visit


Tapas Revolution Bath Launch Easter Churros

Tapas Revolution are celebrating Easter in style this year with decadent ‘Easter Churros’ - served in a milk chocolate Easter egg with an indulgent white chocolate sauce for dipping. Priced at £6.95, they are available for a limited time only on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st March.

Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy has created the bespoke Easter dessert, he comments: “Easter in Spain is one of the biggest celebrations of the year; we get together with friends and family to celebrate with lots of good food, wine and churros of course! I’m excited to introduce the special Easter Churros to the menu, it’s a great fun way to celebrate Easter and perfect for those with a sweet tooth.”

Churros are one of the most popular dishes on the menu at Tapas Revolution.  The Spanish spin on mini doughnuts are cigar shaped, freshly made from choux pastry and served piping hot with warm milk chocolate dipping sauce.  Omar has upped the ante for Easter, using the popular Cadbury Easter egg, adding a Spanish twist with churros and a delicious white chocolate sauce for dipping.

Tapas Revolution is Omar’s personal interpretation of the fun and bustling tapas bars in his hometown of Madrid. Omar and his team use only the finest Iberian ingredients sourced from small Artisan producers across Spain and freshly prepare all the dishes in-house.

This special dessert will be available at Tapas Revolution Bath on Friday, 30th and Saturday, 31st March. Very limited availability, once they’re gone, they’re gone!


Longleat Overrun by Giant Predators

Dozens of giant animatronic predators will be greeting visitors to Longleat this Easter as part of major new attraction.

‘Predators’ showcases a menagerie of moving models including a deep sea anglerfish, a giant 12-metre-long saltwater crocodile, a polar bear, a Komodo dragon and a three-metre-tall spitting cobra – which actually spits.

Located in and around Longleat’s Main Square, each of the models is set within its own environment and linked by a series of interpretation boards describing how these special animals use their unique adaptations to become some of the planet’s ultimate predators.

One of the scenes features a male lion looking down from a rock ready to steal a zebra carcass from a pack of hyenas. The scene comes complete with authentic roars, yips and snarls.

Another portrays a giant red-backed shrike, also known as the butcher bird, sitting on a thorn bush where its victims; including a lizard, ladybird, beetle and a grasshopper are all impaled on spikes.

Alongside modern day carnivores the new attraction features prehistoric predators with a magnificent sabre-toothed cat and a ten metre-long Baryonyx dinosaur brought thrillingly back to life.

There’s even a giant Venus flytrap plant which visitors can trigger into action by throwing over-sized flies into its snapping traps.


American Museum in Britain launches the UK's only immersive American World War One Centenary Exhibition

The American Museum in Britain, near Bath, is launching a commemorative exhibition to mark the centenary of America’s involvement in World War I on 29 March.

The museum, which was also the home of Winston Churchill’s first political speech, will be hosting ‘Side by Side: America and World War I’; an exhibition that seeks to tell the stories of ordinary Americans and their extraordinary impact on the war effort.

As the only immersive exhibition of its kind in the UK, it shines a light on some extremely rare artefacts; such as a watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania. The ship was torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, and over a thousand people lost their lives, including 128 neutral American citizens. 

This star item is joined by a Purple Heart medal, awarded to the father of one of the museum’s two founders, Captain Alexander Pratt (1883-1947). The exhibition also includes some items which have previously not been on public display, such as a family archive, which includes a pair of French baby booties sent home by a US soldier to his pregnant wife.

Each visitor to the exhibition will be given a personnel file, which details the war experience of a real person. These files include the stories of those often left out of America’s World War I history; namely women, African Americans, and Native Americans. 

Head of Visitor Experience, Jon Ducker said, “We really want visitors to feel the personal impact of the war, and also to hear the experiences of those that have been forgotten. There are some amazing accounts of immense bravery from the Native and African American communities which have never been heard.” 

There will be interactive spaces, including a field hospital and a life size model of a French Renault FT17 tank, which was used by the Americans on the Western Front. Doughboys,Tommys and Red Cross Nurses will also be appearing during the launch weekend of March 17, and on select dates throughout the exhibition; giving visitors a fully immersive WW1 experience. 

The overwhelming focus will be on the personal experiences of war through a number of primary sources including newspaper articles and soldiers’ letters, as well as artistic responses such as popular songs, novels by the likes of Ernest Hemmingway and prints by Montgomery Flagg and Kerr Eby.

Chief Curator, Kate Hebert said, “Our exhibition will explore the subtleties of how America joining the conflict helped to end the stalemate and bring about the end of the war, challenging the preconceptions of both British and American audiences. While the military impact of America’s involvement in World War I may still be a matter for debate among historians, what is certain is that the war had an irreversible impact on America: Civil Rights, universal suffrage, and world politics.

“As the only museum outside of the US dedicated to celebrating American culture, we felt it was only right to pay tribute to those Americans, both at home and in Europe, who fought so bravely in World War I.” 

America joined the war in April 1917, and troops engaged in their first major land battle in May 1918, helping the Allies bring the war to its close on 11th November 1918. Despite their relatively short participation over 53,400 Americans were killed in action, an average of 820 a day.

‘Side by Side: America and World War I’ runs from 29 March 2018-28 October 2018. For more information please see: 


Record visitor numbers at The Roman Baths & Pump Room

More than 1.3 million people visited The Roman Baths & Pump Room in 2017 – a record number, putting the historic site in the top 25 attractions in the UK.

Visitor numbers increased by more than 100,000, with 1,318,976 people visiting in 2017 compared to 1,216,938 in 2016. This includes daytime visitors to The Roman Baths and restaurant customers in The Pump Room.

The Roman Baths & Pump Room moved up three places to become the 23rd most-visited attraction in the UK, according to figures just released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). 

The Roman Baths was the 9th most visited charging attraction in the UK, and the second most-visited attraction in the South West, after Stonehenge. And the historic sites’ growth in visitor numbers of 8.4 per cent was above the UK average of 7.3%

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “We are delighted that The Roman Baths has achieved record visitor numbers for the fourth year in a row, thanks to the outstanding customer service provided by its staff, and ongoing improvements to the visitor experience.

“Last year the East Baths area was revamped to include the latest modern interpretation. Work is now starting on the Archway Project, which will provide the new Roman Baths ‘Clore Learning Centre’ and a World Heritage Visitor Centre. The project will also open up new areas of The Roman Baths to its visitors.”

Domestic visitors remained the largest market for The Roman Baths, with 62% of visitors coming from the UK. This was supported by Roman Baths marketing in London and South West England. 

Following specialist marketing and sales campaigns in China, the number of Mandarin-speaking visitors continued to increase, with a record-breaking 108,000 visitors selecting Mandarin audioguides in 2017.


The English Country Garden Festival returns to The Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace & Gardens in Wells has announced the return of its popular English Country Garden Festival for June 2018 (22nd-24th June 2018, 10am-5pm).  This will be the 4th consecutive year that the event has taken place and the Festival will once again re-unite garden-lovers with garden specialists from around the country.

Designed to celebrate the Great British Garden, the stunning 14-acre grounds of the Palace will feature guided tours, live music, expert speakers, BBQ food, ‘have a go’ skills and crafts and over 40 stalls, including a fabulous range of nurseries selling unusual and popular plants.

The Festival will be opened on Friday 22nd by Jo Thompson, one of the UK’s leading Garden Designers, who has been the recipient of three Gold and five Silver Gilt medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Jo will also give a talk about Garden Design at 11:30am.

This year, for the first time, the Royal Horticultural Society will be in attendance on Saturday 23rd June and will be holding a “Gardener’s Question Time” designed to help keen horticulturalists and amateur garden enthusiasts to deal with some of the problems that they come up against throughout the gardening year.

For full details of speakers and entertainment, see