Frome’s Cheap Street is pedestianised. It is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval shopping streets. As with Cheap Street in all market towns in England, its name comes from the word ceap, which meant “to sell”. The word evolved and “ceap” became markets which were places for “good ceap”. Eventually the word became to be used as we do today for ‘inexpensive’.
The layout of the street is still based on a medieval street plan. This is evidenced in land plots dating back to about 1500. Beautifully flagstoned, Cheap Street is surrounded by buildings almost unchanged from the 16th and 17th centuries.
We are also reminded of the medieval water system by the leet or runnel that still runs down the centre of Cheap Street. It rises from the spring at St John’s Church and makes Frome history almost tangible.
Frome’s Cheap Street was also famously used as a television set by the BBC. It was features in the 1970s for episode six of the first series of the comedy “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin”.
Walking down Cheap Street, you can almost feel the centuries of history. Thousands have passed through the town. From its first settlement as a mission station in about 685 to the modern, Frome has evolved to an arty and largely untouched town centre.
This Frome story was published in the Frome Times