Saturday, 19 March 2011

Hidden Somerset

One of the joys of visiting and living in Somerset is that there is always something new to discover.  The Hidden Somerset website ( helps you discover some of these hidden gems for yourself:

“For those looking to get 'off the beaten track' in Somerset, look no further than, a special website designed to share the 'bits the others can't reach' (to acknowledge a well known old advert). This website offers information about a variety of little known gems, where you are most unlikely ever to meet a coach load of tourists. Explore Somerset's more interesting historic, geographical and cultural features, the things which make our county so special and unique.”  In particular, look under the 'gems' section where thoughtful people have added their own favourite 'gems'.

Family run Musgrove Willows is one such gem who continue the Somerset tradition of willow growing and making items from it.  It is situated in the historic village of Westonzoyland. 

(photo - - doll's cradle - from shop)
It is now run by Michael Musgrove and his wife, Ellen, the 3rd generation, and the expertise has been passed down through the family They now grow over 50 different species of salix (willow/withies) at Musgrove Willows which are suitable for living willow projects (such as domes, tunnels, living fences and windbreaks), basket making and hurdle fencing.  Visitors are able to see all these varieties growing on site and experience the age old traditions of sorting, boiling and stripping the willow ready for the basket maker.
(courtesy of:
As well as visiting the site, taking part in their course, the Musgrove Willows work can also be seen as the giant Willow Man on the M5.
Somerset’s long tradition in crafting is reflected in the work of other local crafters with shops of the Folksy website.  This week we meet Emma, aka Mrs Jones Handmade Jewellery.

Please introduce yourself and tell us what brought you to Somerset?

Hello, I am Emma Jones aka Mrs Jones Handmade Jewellery. I was born in Taunton, Somerset and apart from a brief time living in Preston, Somerset has always been my home, and always will be. I currently live with my husband and two boys near the Blackdown Hills.

Where does your inspiration come from?
The green of the surrounding Somerset countryside has definitely inspired me – I never get tired of green! But the colours and shapes of the beads themselves are the starting point of my jewellery, sometimes leading to surprising colour combinations.


And finally, what's your favourite place in Somerset and why?

My favourite place in Somerset is
Fyne Court
on the Quantock Hills. It is mainly woodland with streams and walks through meadows. I used to visit it with my family when I was a child, and now I take my children.

To visit Emma’s shop, go to and


  1. Thank you so much. I had never heard about the Hidden Somerset website before, so I will be finding some days out for Easter!

  2. I love the picture of the willow man what a shame that beautiful piece of land has been spoilt by the hidious commercial buildings being created just behind our lovely Willow Man.I know I'm nearly home when we pass him on the M5

  3. I smile every time I drive past the willow man, we have tried to get closer to take photos but can't find a way through. Even though we have lived in N somerset for nearly 7 years we hadn't really explored it, so last year we took a week off just to do that. I love the variety of the area and it inspired my painting, so I understand why it produces such brilliant crafts people

  4. Thanks all for lovely comments. The Willow Man is so iconic isn't he?
    @wellydog - I completely agree - Somerset is perfect for holidaying on your doorstep - there is so much to explore round here.

    Keep your eyes peeled for the next Somerset feature....

  5. FYI The Willow Man pic comes from Somerset County Council - all the best, James