Shepton Mallet lies some 5 miles to the east of the City of Wells and 18 miles south of Bristol, on the southern foothills of the Mendips. The town has a population of around 10,000 people. The town centre and beyond forms a conservation area with over 200 listed buildings. The town centre has a pedestrianised shopping area and an artisan quarter of independent shops. The Townsend Retail Park has national chains such as Tesco, Boots, Argos and other large retail outlets. Sporting amenities include football, hockey and a lawn bowls club as well as the nearby Mendip Golf Club. Charlton House Hotel and Spa is on the edge of the town. St. Paul’s C of E primary school is rated as Good by Ofsted, as is Whitstone Secondary School. Independent education is available at Wells Cathedral School and King’s Bruton amongst others. Castle Cary railway station, 8 miles south of the town, has a service to London Paddington.