Bill Amberg’s perfect weekend in Somerset

The designer is one of the most respected names in contemporary British leather craft, combining heritage techniques with cutting-edge technology across accessories and interiors

Bill Amberg and his vintage Norton outside At The Chapel, Bruton
Bill Amberg and his vintage Norton outside At The Chapel, Bruton | Image: Sam Pelly

“My wife, Susie Forbes, and I spend the week in London, but home is a 17th-century farmhouse just outside the Somerset town of Bruton. Saturday begins with a walk with our two working cocker spaniels, Buzz and Moon, in the woods that make up our horizon.

Then I’ll go to Bruton on my old Norton – the sidecar is useful for carrying the shopping – to buy sourdough from At The Chapel, a lovely shop and restaurant, and bacon at Bill the Butcher. Bill’s son Phil does a nice dry cure.

At 9.30, I go to meet the wonderful Pete. He is an indispensable handyman and our Saturday mornings together are sacrosanct, involving a gardening or building project that will keep us busy until lunchtime

For lunch, Susie and I will walk over to the arts centre and restaurant opened by Hauser & Wirth in 2014, which is just over the fields from us. The joy of the Roth Bar & Grill is chef Steve Horrell’s seasonal English food: his Durslade Farm pork chop with braised red cabbage is my winter favourite. Afterwards, we’ll visit the current exhibition or the garden, designed by Piet Oudolf; it’s fascinating to watch it through the changing seasons.

I really enjoy cooking and we have a lot of local friends, so when we get back, I’ll see who’s free for supper and then head to Kimbers’ Farm Shop in Wincanton for local ingredients. I’m experimenting with breads, pickles and slow roasts from Olia Hercules’ book Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine & beyond at the moment. I’ll buy wine from the Somerset Wine Co in Castle Cary – they stock Albariño, an unusual Galician white – and order in my favourite High West rye whiskey (to make Manhattans). The evening will probably turn into a late one – they have been known to end with a sauna in the Japanese-style bathhouse I made in our barn.


Sunday begins at 7.30am with the reassuring sound of a goods train rumbling past (the house sits between a railway line and a lane, so the sound of the train is part of its fabric), followed by a run with the dogs in Pink Wood.

I like to spend some creative time in my studio listening to records and pottering. However, we have three daughters, aged 21, 20 and 16, and at some point they will come in and suggest an outing to Frome.

Catherine Hill is lined with boutiques such as the vintage clothes shops Poot and Donna May, which are both nice for a rummage. I rarely find clothes that fit me because I’m very tall, but Somerset used to be the centre of the English leather-making industry so sometimes I’ll unearth a really lovely pair of gloves.

There’s a good Italian café, Carpe Diem, halfway up the hill where we’ll stop for coffee, then I’ll go off to ferret about for records at Raves from the Grave. I do a few DJ sets at Glastonbury and I’m always on the lookout for something unusual. Fat Radish is a new discovery for lunch: it’s small and simple and serves delicious salads and lots of varieties of hummus.

Messums’ new gallery in Tisbury is 25 minutes drive from us and we’ll often go on Sunday afternoon. It’s an extraordinary space – the UK’s largest medieval barn – and has beautiful exhibitions. The last one we saw, Material: Wood, focused on wood as a source of inspiration in art and design.


We don’t eat on Sunday evening – there’s been enough food already – so we just light the wood-burning stove and settle down with books or the papers. I buy a lot of exhibition catalogues and this is my chance to read them – Joseph Beuys is at the top of the pile at the moment. At some point we have to drive back to London but the heat from the stove makes it hard to leave.”

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