Come and see the willow industry … from the Withy Bed to the Basket at the Willows & Wetlands Visitor Centre …
The Centre is owned and run by the Coate family, who have been growing willow on the Somerset Levels since 1819. Visitors will find a warm welcome and are invited to learn about the history and art of willow growing and basketmaking.
Visitor Centre Opening Hours:
Monday - Saturday 9.30am - 5.00pm. Closed Sundays.
Please note the Willows Gallery, Withies Artisan Studio and The Leather Studio are independent businesses who may have different opening times, please check their details below, or by contacting them directly to ensure they are open if you are visiting them specifically.
You will find a wonderful selection of basketware to buy, handcrafted from Coate's own willow, by their team of skilled basketmakers.
Enjoy free entry into the:
The Shop & Furniture Gallery stock an enormous range of baskets, from the unusual and decorative to the practical. Furniture and garden items, as well as smaller willow to suit most pockets, are also displayed. If you cannot find the basket you want, a custom made service is available - browse our Gallery for examples.
A Walks Leaflet is available in the shop. There is a gentle walk through our withy beds, or a longer circular walk along the River Tone and up to the viewpoint on the top of Windmill Hill. Here you can sit and take a rest and enjoy the view across Hay Moor and Curry Moor to the far distance.
If the weather is warm you may see a variety of insect life on the moors. Damsel flies and the much larger dragon flies abound, as do many varieties of butterflies. Marbled white, small copper, common blue, and orange-tip are some of the many species of butterflies found here. Even the silver-washed fritillary has been seen, and the stunning hawk moth is not uncommon.
Willow is also sold, both for basket-making or as a living willow (in season), or green willow for garden structures. DIY kits for borders and climbers are also obtainable for those gardeners who enjoy a "hands-on" approach.
• Video Room, This 40 minute video tells our full story, explaining the way we are keeping the best of this most traditional of industries, whilst also looking towards the future. To view our Visitor Centre video click here.
• Basket Museum with its large display of both familiar and unusual willow artefacts.
• Levels and Moors Exhibition highlighting some of the other activities that have taken place on this part of the Somerset Levels such as teasel growing and "clatting". There is a large 3D map of Stoke St Gregory and the surrounding area as well as historical information. This exhibition was opened by David Bellamy in 1987.
• Environmental Interpretation. This display tells the story of the way water has shaped the Somerset Levels and continues to play a major part in life here today.
We also offer guided tours, these are conducted by our experienced staff and show all aspects of willow growing and processing and basket-making. Guided tours take place twice a day at 11am and 2.30pm Monday - Friday and take approximately 1 hour. There is no need to book in advance for these tours, just call into the shop and purchase a ticket. There are no guided tours on bank holidays.
Price -Adults & Children over 5 years old- £3 per person.
-Under 5's are welcomed free of charge.
Group bookings and educational visits are very welcome, but by appointment only. Please contact Ellie Tee to discuss what your group requires and to arrange a booking.
Tel: 01823 490249
The Lemon Tree Coffee House
The Lemon Tree Coffee House is a delightful stop for coffee and home-made cakes, or a light lunch. Whether you prefer the cool, flagged floor of the traditional tea room, or the landscaped courtyard with its rushing water feature, the surroundings are a pleasant place to relax, especially if you have just returned from one of our walks. The Lemon Tree Coffee House has achieved a 5 star Food Hygiene Rating from Taunton Deane Food Standards Inspection Service.
The Lemon Tree Coffee House- Opening Times:
Monday - Saturday 10.00 am to 4.30 pm.
tel. 01823 490249
We are now able to offer free Wifi in the Lemon Tree Coffee House and in the Conference room.
We are also home to some other crafts people who can be found at work next door to the Lemon Tree Coffee House.
The Willows Gallery
Don Bishop Photography in the “Willows Gallery” is now open for business and normal hours are currently 10.0am – 4.0pm Tues – Sat (Closed Sunday and Monday), but please do check our website as we are closed on odd days due to other commitments and attending shows and craft fairs, details of these are also on the website. We offer mounted and framed prints of UK landscapes and steam railway scenes and any images can be prepared in a size to meet your requirements or produced on a canvas. We offer a framing service while u wait or visit “The Lemon Tree” café next door for a cuppa while we frame your picture. Don also offers workshops and on these gives tuition on his techniques to beginners and more experienced photographers alike. These include days based at the Willows & Wetlands Centre and his “Light & Mood” days out on Exmoor, Somerset levels and coast or the Dorset coast. We hope to welcome you to the gallery soon.
The Willows Gallery opening times- Tuesday - Saturday 10.00 am to 4.30 pm. These times may vary, so to avoid disappointment, please contact us before leaving home.
tel- 01823 490952 or 07912669666
The Leather Studio
The Leather Studio is home to Frances George, Edwards & Curwin and The Muddy Dog Company.
All of their products are crafted by hand in the workshop.
Frances George offers luxurious and fine leather goods using time-honoured traditional craftmanship. Choose a piece from our collection, or treat yourself to our bespoke service during which we will design and create a truly unique and timeless bag, wallet, purse, briefcase or whatever you may require.
Edwards & Curwin offer a range of bags, belts, bracelets, dog collars and keyrings that can all be made to order in your size and favourite colour. Most items may also be embossed with a name or initials for a personal touch. Pop into the workshop before your guided tour or a coffee at the Lemon Treeand we can make a belt for you while you wait.
The Muddy Dog Company - Uniquely British bags and accessories made in Somerset
Our studio is open 11am-4pm Monday - Saturday and other times by appointment. Please do call before visiting as we are closed on the odd day due to client appointments or other commitments.
01823 491 682
The Withies Artisan Studio
is an ever-changing space exhibiting a range of hand-made products from skilled local craftspeople. At any time you are likely to find semi-precious jewellery, fashionable "reclaimed timber" and shabby-chic furniture, pottery, stained glass, candles and textiles. Viewing the studio's exclusive "Woodland Fairies" is a must!
The Withies Artisan Studio also incorporates "The Fascinator Shop". Special occasion headwear designed and made by Joslyn, the Studio manager. A range will always be on sale and commissions are especially welcomed. Open by appointment only during January 2015. Please call Joslyn on 01823 491503 or 07889 731973 if you want to arrange an appointment.