One of the things I wanted to tick off on this trip was a visit to the Discworld Emporium, in Wincanton, a town in Somerset, England. Co-founded by Sir Terry Pratchett himself, the Discworld Emporium sells exclusive Discworld merchandise, and the town of Wincanton is officially twinned with Ankh-Morpork, making it the first ever town to be twinned with a fiction place.
It wasn’t easy getting there, but well, when my cousin Dianne and I get it into our minds to do something (crazy)… well, we all know where that leads. Here’s how the Pratchett Pilgrimage went, and some tips if you want to visit.
The Road to Wincanton
Our itinerary for the trip was crazy packed (down to the last time slot, at least for me and my cousin), but we slotted this Wincanton sidetrip early on in the planning, even before knowing how we were supposed to get to there from London. Around April, we still couldn’t find precise directions online, and were unsure if it was better to take a train or a coach, so I finally decided to email the Discworld Emporium for directions on the best way to get there via public transportation.
Reb from the store responded promptly to my email, and I was quite shocked to read that the best way is via a coach that leaves London in the early evening and goes back to London the morning of the following day, which would require us to stay in town overnight. There are three train stations fifteen minutes away from Wincanton, but they would require taxis back and forth, and we weren’t sure of the frequency of the cabs, so after consulting with Dianne, we decided to do it (not that it took much to sell the idea, really, lol).
So I booked a couple of round trip coach tickets on Berry’s Coaches (as recommended by Reb) and a room at The Dolphin Hotel (literally across the street from the Discworld Emporium) and we were set.
On the day of the trip, we had a leisurely morning at the British Museum, I got the Pfeil carving gouge I was eyeing at the legendary art shop L. Cornelissen & Son, found a nice deerstalker hat for ten quid at a street stall in Covent Garden, and spent a small fortune on tea at Fortnum and Mason (and that is why I could barely get my suitcase shut at the end of the trip) before going home to drop off our shopping and grab our overnight bags. We then headed to Hammersmith to catch our 6:15 coach.
The coach was comfy and had wifi (and an attendant who looked like Rose’s mum in Doctor Who), but what was supposed to leisurely ride on an express coach took on an unexpected turn as one of the major highways was closed that night and we were stuck in traffic for over an hour. We were supposed to be in Wincanton at 8:30 but we arrived at the hotel at around quarter to ten. We were really hungry but the hotel kitchen was already closed, and the pubs were only serving drinks, so we ended up having tea and biscuits in our room for dinner (*cries*) and had an early night.
Out and About Wincanton
We woke up bright and early and loaded up on breakfast — eggs, toast, baked beans, sausages, and more (hey, we were hungry!) — and proceeded to explore the town — in costume, may I add? Haha, I was dressed as Tiffany Aching, one of my favorite Discworld characters while Dianne was dressed as the fabulous Moist von Lipwig (from our favorite Discworld arc).
The Discworld Emporium doesn’t open until 10 am, but we had other stops to check out anyway, so that worked out fine. We saw the pub that Pratchett frequented, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Then we walked to the intersection of the streets named after thoroughfares in Ankh Morpork: Treacle Mine Road and Peach Pie Street. It’s a ten minute walk from the high street (they show up on Google Maps, if you want to look for them) in Kingwell Rise, in the residential part of town.
After taking some pictures (I wonder what the cars, joggers, and dogwalkers made of that, LOL!) we needed to send out a stack of postcards so we headed to the Post Office on the other side of town. Moist is the Postmaster General of the Ankh Morpork Post Office, so we ended up taking photos in front of the Post Office, too.
(The Post Office is a pretty nice change from the ones we have here. It even has a lovely curio store, and we ended up buying some Wincanton Fudge).
Dianne went back to the hotel for a bit, while I wandered down the high street (it’s a very short strip, shorter and much narrower than the street I live in, actually) but there are a lot of charming little bric a brac shops down the road.
The Ankh Morpork Consulate
We were outside the Discworld Emporium about twenty minutes before opening and were taking pictures from across the street (to the amusement of passersby) when a fellow fan (Helen) who also made the pilgrimage (she drove from the other side of England) showed up and kindly offered to take photos of us.
Then, Isobel Pearson (one of the store founders), spotted us and yay, the store was open!
We’d been browsing the website for months so we were pretty much set on what we were going to buy (our bus was leaving for London at 11 am), but the display still pretty much floored us. The store is beautiful:
It was definitely worth the trip. Ended up buying more stuff than I intended to (LOL story of this trip), but I’m not complaining — we came all this way so might as well!
Got myself a Thieves Guild Swag Bag; a hardcover gift edition of the last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown; some beer mats for friends; and my very own Ankh Morpork passport.
Plus this little stowaway in my overnight bag:
LOL, my cat was not amused:
Definitely glad to have made this pilgrimage to Wincanton, and hope to return one day!
41 High St., Wincanton, England