Coates English Willow Visitor Centre, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton, Somerset
Go along to Coates English Willow Visitor Centre at Stoke St Gregory to find out all about the withy growing industry that’s been a big part of life on the Somerset Levels for centuries – for the Coates family, since 1819. Withies are long, flexible branches of willow grown mostly for the basket making trade, but as with all things, there was a need to diversify so they are also put to good use in the production of furniture, garden sculptures and accessories, and top quality artists’ charcoal.
It's surprising how much time you can spend here and the thing is there’s such a wonderful, unhurried feel, so it’s a joy to come and pootle about. Delve into the history of the willow trade in the Museum then take a stroll along the sculpture trail, through the woodlands or the withy beds; a longer walk will take you along the River Tone and to the top of the charmingly named Windmill Hill where the views out across the moors are glorious; what makes it so special is that it’s such a unique landscape out here on the Levels.
There’s a very good café at Coates English Willow so make sure you allow time to stop for tea and cake; have a browse around the Courtyard Shops where there are plants and flowers, handmade glass, gorgeous interiors, and locally made chocolate. The Willow Shop is packed with baskets galore, along with furniture, bird feeders, plant climbers, garden sculptures and plenty more, hand made with creativity and passion. They also run regular workshops here, in basket making, charcoal drawing, and willow sculpture but you’ll need to book well in advance because they fill up quickly.
Dogs are welcome on leads.
Open: Nov-Mar - Mon-Sat 10.00am-4.00pm April to Nov- 9.30-5.00 from
T: 01823 490249 All information correct at the time of writing