Almshouse Tea Shop and Books
What is 600 years old and also brand new?... Give up?
Oh, you’ll have a guess?
The Almshouse Tea Shop and Books in Axbridge, Somerset, of course.
I think you looked at the title and put two and two together.
But yes, that’s right. The Almshouse occupies a building that dates back to medieval times and started as a poor house but, for the past decade has been a charming Tea Shop and Gift Shop.
Just yesterday though it emerged from the pandemic reborn as The
Almshouse Tea Shop and Books with the fresh energy of recent Exeter graduate and daughter of the proprietor Skye Frewin.
Her proud mum, Nicky, is obviously pleased to have brought the Almshouse through the crisis intact and to see it ready to reach new heights in collaboration with Skye.
The story of the Almshouse in 2020 is one of those inspirational tales that restores your faith in humanity.
Nicky had to furlough her staff and then was left with the challenge of pivoting her business to meet the needs of the local community in lockdown.
Selling groceries and homemade cakes from her front door was the first stage of operations and then Nicky found herself making meals for the elderly residents of Axbridge to take away and eat at home.
As you can imagine, those small daily contacts were all many people were able to enjoy over the long months of isolation and the Almshouse became a community hub, or even more of one than it already was anyway.
With the reduction in hours and the enforced slower pace of life Nicky realised the importance of rest and relaxation. Before the pandemic her favourite pastime was sea angling, having fished as part of the England Ladies Sea Angling Team. Now, they may not get as much press as the men’s football team but they are no less dedicated to their sport I assure you and once they set a hook… well, good luck to the fishes! (Bristol Cod, photo supplied by Nicky)
When restrictions on angling were eventually lifted the time spent staring out at the sea provided Nicky with an opportunity to reflect on the best path for her business going forward and as Skye was just coming out of university the idea of reducing the shop's hours and bringing in Skye to start her dream bookshop took form.
And really, what goes together better than books and tea? Mothers and daughters, perhaps?
All of the ingredients are there for the Almshouse to go from strength to strength in 2021 and beyond.
Nicky will have more time to pursue her other interests and find a better life / work balance and Skye will have an opportunity to hit the ground running after university, which can be a real challenge in today’s climate.
Speaking of climate, that is Skye’s second passion. In the modern way, her degree was in English and also Sustainability so having a shop that is open from Wednesday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm will give Skye some time to develop that aspect of her career as well.
If you’re in the area to visit the Gorge or Reservoir I would really recommend stopping by the medieval market square in Axbridge and having a nice cuppa and a little browse in these lovely ladies shop, I think the bridge between ancient history and up-to-the-minute thinking is really inspirational and I’m sure you will too.
The Almshouse Tea Shop and Books
The Square, Axbridge BS26 2AR
Tel: 01934 733720