An unsuspecting new visitor to The Two Brewers might think that Street is an unprepossessing little town and yet it is in the centre of a very historic and fascinating local area.
On the doorstep are the Somerset Levels, a unique habitat in the United Kingdom renowned for its flora and fauna. Ancient trackways, 4,000 years old, have been discovered preserved in the peat that is today a closely controlled and protected resource.
A common sight along the ancient rhynes – man-made waterways that drain this unique habitat after thousands of years being swept by the tides of the Bristol Channel – are willow trees. Many now grow wild but some are still ‘pollarded’ – a centuries-old method of producing the raw material for the local basket-making industry. The trees are cut off about six feet above the ground and the new shoots, known as withies or poles, are harvested while slender and supple by the basket makers to produce objects which are both practical and beautiful.
Since World War II, there has been a revival in English winemaking and several vineyards in the area are well worth a visit.
These traditional crafts run side-by-side with history of which Somerset has more than its fair share, extending back into the mists of time when the legendary King Arthur and his knights were supposed to perform heroic deeds.
Viewed from miles around but on Street’s doorstep, is the unmistakable outline of Glastonbury Tor, topped by a ruined mediaeval church tower.
It is believed that beneath the waters of a spring which bubbles from the slopes of the tor, Joseph of Arimathea buried the chalice used at the Last Supper. He went on to thrust his thorn staff into the ground on a nearby hill where it immediately took root to produce the distinctive Glastonbury winter-flowering thorn tree.
A little farther north are the towering cliffs of Cheddar Gorge, the great natural scar cutting through the Mendip Hills where the distinctive Cheddar cheese is still made. From the former wool town of Axbridge, Anglo-Saxon and Norman kings rode out to hunt stags on the nearby hills.
To the west of Street, near the village of Westonzoyland, is the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor where in 1685 the Duke of Monmouth’s bid to claim the English throne ended in defeat and the execution of hundreds of his supporters.
If you have spent a busy day absorbing all this history and tradition, you deserve to quench your thirst and enjoy a freshly cooked meal at The Two Brewers.