It’s no shock that social media enables us to rate almost anything in today’s society, mostly serving the people’s good. As the options are endless, a young man from Bristol, England, has chosen to rate benches. 23-Year-Old Sam Wilmot, a recruiter, has embarked on an essential public service in pursuit of one goal – to find the perfect place to sit.
Sam spends his spare time visiting and rating random benches on some criteria, including location, comfort, view, and design. He has reviewed over 200 benches across the United Kingdom but hasn’t given a 10/10 score. Each of the ‘Rate The Bench’ is posted on Sam’s dedicated Instagram page, where he captioned the photos with a detailed assessment of the seat.
Sam’s Instagram page’s highest score goes to a bench spotted in Saint John the Baptist Church in Old Sodbury, Somerset. The bench was given an outstanding 9/10 while one of the worst-rated benches in River Street, Bristol, received 0/10. With an educational background in history studies, Sam writes a detailed description, including his experience with the bench, the feeling of sitting on it, and the bench’s material amidst others.
Sam’s descriptions are downright priceless as they’re packed with worded explanations. Just like many other things, the pandemic has had a bit of impact on Sam’s hobby.
River Aire, Leeds Rated 3/10
‘Shoutout to Leeds for providing one of the roughest looking benches I’ve sat on. This feels like an attempt at gentrification being given the middle finger by the locals. The new prefab apartments are clearly an attempt to generate interest and investment in the area, but they look pretty tacky. This bench was cheaply thrown together and became the point of rest for youths and the occasional fiend. You can’t see it, but in one of the “planters,” somebody had attempted to set fire to the contents of somebody’s handbag. Stay classy. From the off, I actually like the design (albeit cheaply executed) and thought this bench had a lot going for it. The stone structure is known as a Gabion Basket frame (duly noted by @tonylysander) and was a nice addition that added to the rustic feel. As for the wood, it was smooth and firm but desperately in need of varnish to preserve the wood. The seat itself was solid and offered minimal curvature, the back support was a thick piece of timber and was at a good height to support the curvature of the spine, but it wouldn’t offer much comfort for longer periods of sitting. The dusty/loose stone base was suitable for the time of year, but into winter, it’ll be a pretty gross place to sit. There was no plaque, and the weeds were fierce-looking and growing wild. The canal path made for a pleasant walk, if not a little rough and ready. On this occasion, it’s a 3/10. The potential was minimized by its setting.’
Little Stoke Playing Fields Rated 5/10
‘I deem myself to be a very laid back individual, so naturally, a bench that has a recline such as this is one I’ll always look fondly one. Those of you who have followed my page will know that the middle support offers strength and peace of mind. It’s sturdy, durable, the armrests are thick, and the concrete base is near perfect. The drawback of this bench is to do with the shallow seat; the lack of depth means that you are required to anchor your feet to keep yourself upright; because of the angle you sit at, a more deep-set seat is required for additional friction to stop one sliding. There’s a wonderful little coffee shop to be enjoyed and some terrible football to be watched here. It’s not quite the majesty of a lake or an autumnal forest, but it sums up most of my Saturdays pretty well, coffee and park football. 5/10.’
Cold Ashton, Rated 7/10
‘Took a drive with my dad today to try track down a bench and came across this beauty. The bench was situated in the quaint village of Cold Ashton, next to the limestone wall of the manor, overlooking St Catherine’s Valley. Interestingly the valley is a biological site of special scientific interest due to a large naturalized population of Dragon’s Teeth, a pretty yellow flower. Not to be confused with the concrete constructs used to impede the movement of tanks in the Second World War. The bench was donated by the parishioners of the village to commemorate the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977. I hope I age as well as this bench has. My only request is that unlike this bench every summer, I get good dosing of tan to last me the winter months, but that’s only a minor setback, and I’m sure the villagers didn’t get around to doing it this year due to covid restrictions. There’s a lesson to be learned here about building something to last and the maintenance required to ensure that. Take the concrete base; laying firm foundations is all well and good, but without maintenance and TLC, it can become consumed by the earth. Yet 43 years on, it looks as good as the day it was laid. Take from that what you will. The bench was comfortable, big broad arms, the seat was a good height and had a subtle curve, a great base, a plaque, and a wonderful view. It’s a very solid 7/10.’
Bench In Staple Hill & Mangotsfield Rated 5/10
‘There shall be no great essay on the bench this evening. This bench was dedicated by The Royal British Legion as part of the memorial garden in Staple Hill & Mangotsfield to commemorate the fallen. The 11th of November is a time to remember the sacrifice of men and women of every race and nationality that laid down their lives for the hope of a better world. The bench is a 5/10.’
Dyrham Park –National Trust Rated 5/10
‘The name Dyrham Park was the closest I came to seeing Deers here despite it being home to 200 Fallow Deers. The bench felt quite “traditional” in the sense of the light ironwork, the narrow frame, thin timber, and it’s setting in a Baroque country house garden. I loved the color; it’s been well kept and has a very nearly kept backdrop. As tends to be the case with benches such as this, they bow when sitting (it can be seen quite clearly in the photo) and can feel quite weak when they’re perfectly sound. It’s a nice bench and fits the aesthetics of the gardens, but not quite the sturdy and solid benches I hold in high regard. 5/10, for its setting and vibrant color.’
Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire Rated 8/10
‘This bench was installed in Chipping Sodbury just over a week ago, and it’s an absolute delight. I have insight knowledge from its creator @andyoneill_woodcarver to explain the features and carvings on the bench. It’s carved from Giant Redwood; hence it’s a gorgeous color, the Ammonites at the base depict the nearby quarrying, the waves in the seat represents the river Frome, and the birds carved into the backrest a Dipper, House Martin, Kingfisher, and Wagtail, are found nearby. The bench exhibits earth, water, and air. It’s an unbelievable piece of craftsmanship; the seat is deep-set, the armrests (my favorite bit) are a fantastic size for getting comfortable, the back is to a great height too, and the base was suitable. It’s a shame the bin in shot blocks out another great piece of carving. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, 8/10.’
Golden Cap Rated 3/10
‘The camouflage jumper seems to have been more effective than the bench. I’m left scratching my (floating) head over why something so beautiful is let down by a cheaply thrown together bench. There are no armrests, no back support, no plaque, no concrete base, and no curvature. What’s left me really disgruntled was the bench’s height; it’s way too high for an average height person to sit comfortably. I’m on my tiptoes just to alleviate the pressure on my thighs. The climb to the top of the hill was worth the view but not the bench. 3/10, purely for its location.’
St. Leonards On Sea Rated 5/10
‘As we begin our next period of “lockdown,” something can be said about learning from Robinson Crusoe’s time in isolation on a deserted island, such as withdrawing from worldly goods and disrupting the usual rhythms and habits of our lives to aid our own personal growth. But don’t read too much into it; the rest is the usual story of British colonialism. This mural of Robinson Crusoe in Hastings was created as a selfie portal and performance space by a local cafe. At present, there is a heated debate on benches in Hastings, with the local council removing some from the town center due to anti-social behavior issues. It seems a desperate shame that the council plans to remove the benches despite those who have nowhere else to go instead of dealing with the deep-rooted issues of homelessness and substance misuse. That’s a rant for another day. The benches here are rather slipshod; they possess no real character, nor do they provide much comfort – this was the best of a bad bunch having been maintained by the neighboring cafe. The concrete exterior provided some protection from the wind, and the views of the English Channel were greatly appreciated on a chilly morning. 5/10, picking up marks for the artwork, maintenance, and locality. You might see me on the One Show discussing benches in Hastings in the coming weeks.’
River Street Bristol Rated 0/10
‘River Street, Bristol. Unfortunately, this bench was a victim of vandalism, and the majority of the seat was missing. It did receive a 0/10, but I still hold it in higher regard than some benches.’
Kingscote Gloucestershire, United Kingdom Rated 6/10
‘If the church is called St John the Baptist, there’s a chance you’ll find a decent bench within its ground. Here we have a prime example of the importance of a concrete base; the earth’s growth has turned a solid bench into something that’s on the verge of uncomfortably low and a challenge to climb out of. I thought with all the talk of vaccines for Covid; this bench was fitting; this church was where Edward Jenner, “the father of immunology,” married his beloved Catherine Kingscote. There’s some suggestion that a young Edward Jenner was testing out using a Balloon for travel when he landed on Catherine’s father’s estate, where he first met his future wife. Seems like hot air to me. Jenner pioneered the idea of a vaccine in the 18th century and is said to have saved more lives than any other person in history. And one thing is for sure; whether you think Bill Gates is trying to insert a chip into your arm or it’s a mind-control injection, I’ll be slamming a covid vaccine into me at the earliest possible moment. So props to Jenner for all the helps hundreds of years ago. The bench needs some attention and a facelift, but we all are this year. It’s solid, the arm thick and curvy, the seat delicate on the bottom, and the back support of a good height. The dedication was long and poignant, and the graveyard secluded. Still a solid bench despite it being a low rider, 6/10.’
Durdham Down Rated 5/10
‘The Downs in Bristol are hailed as the ‘lungs of Bristol’ and have been a protected piece of land for the people of the city to enjoy it as a leisure resort since 1861. The description of the Downs as the lungs of the City is a fascinating and accurate description of the area. It’s a place to breathe, enjoy and appreciate the beauty here, whether running, playing Quidditch, football, dog-walking, or taking a seat on one of the many benches. There was a very loving and touching memorial on the bench that read, “We sit with you to heal our hurt.” A lot can be said for allowing yourself time to sit awhile and heal for so many different things in life. The bench offered a great place to sit and admire the changing leaves and passers-by enjoying the park. It was a nice bench; the seat was a little uneven in place, and the armrests not to my preference. But the backrest was at a suitable recline, and it had been well maintained. Overall, a nice place to sit, 5/10.’
Blaise Castle Estate Rated 3/10
‘As viewpoints go to Bristol, this is right up there. As inaccurate place-names go, this again is right up there. The so-called “Lovers’ Leap” is not the spot where star-crossed lovers leaped to their death. It was given the name by Thomas Farr, who was well versed in storytelling and creating false myths to do with his estate. The bench offered no plaque, but there was plenty of inscriptions and names carved into the wood. The lack of concrete base begot a very dirty jacket when it fell to the ground. For a place offering such spectacular views over the Avon Gorge, Stoke Bishop, and Sneyd Park, one can only assume the uncomfortable bench is to discourage people sitting for too long and hogging the view. For the view alone, this was a 3/10. Plus, benches that let my feet dangle give me a complex about my height.’
Seaton Beach Rated 5/10
‘As we move further into Autumn and the rain sets in, be sure to carry something with you for wiping benches over before sitting; on this occasion, I used a glove left in the pocket of my coat from last winter. As always, I try not to let the weather shroud my judgment of the bench, but it must be said it can put a dampener on things – literally. The bench is made from anti-vandal material, hence the plastic coating I often comment on, and I recognize needs must at times. Nonetheless, I still prefer a solid wooden seat. I appreciate the color of the seat mimics that of genuine wood/timber, but it is just that, a mimic. For me, the bench offers too many straight lines and angles; I’m a fan of curvature and something that flows with the body. Pros: a solid base along with the promenade, decent height back support, and a plaque. Cons: no arms, no curvature and was soaking wet. 5/10.’
Charmouth Beach Rated 6/10
‘These benches, like sprouting trees in rainforests, were all vying for the same fresh air and spot of sunshine. I’ve never come across 4 benches so tightly packed together outside of a major city, which in any year prior to 2020 was ideal; now 2 of 4 shouldn’t be occupied for social distancing reasons. I’d like to draw reference to the bench being so small, but actually, the bench is perfectly average in size; I’m just wider than most. There’s space for 3 people, more slender than I, to sit comfortably and revel in the views across the Jurassic Coast. Interesting fact, the 96 miles of coastline making up the Jurassic Coast was the first wholly natural world heritage site in the UK. The seat was comfortable, offering a slight curvature and plenty of support in the back and armrests. The bench offered a lovely dedication to a Japanese woman who loved Charmouth. The concrete base was purpose-built for 3 of the 4 benches hear; the 4th was clearly a late addition. But of the 3 “ogs,” they were crying out for some varnish ahead of another savage winter on the coast British coast. All in all, an above satisfactory bench. 6/10.’
Almondsbury Garden Centre Rated 4/10
‘Boats and hoes. I took a trip to Almondsbury garden center this morning for a mooch around and came across this wee boaty. It’s good to see things being up-cycled. I’m not convinced I’d spend £514 on it, though. It was quirky, and the seat had plenty of depth, but there wasn’t a great deal of strength in the back – my guess is it’s more decorative than supportive. I was, however, fond of the view. It was like peering into my future; I’m looking forward to the day where I get to buy a shed and put it on an allotment with a radio, kettle, and comfy chair. A nice idea as a place to put your plant pots, but as a bench, it was less than shipshape. 4/10.’
Frampton On Seven Rated 6/10
‘You could be forgiven for thinking the Bledisloe cup was a fierce rivalry between Australia and New Zealand rugby union teams, but not here in the UK. The Bledisloe Cup was a prestigious competition for the “Best Kept Village in Gloucestershire,” which began in 1937. This bench is a celebration of Frampton on Severn’s 3 consecutive victories in ‘84, ‘85 & ‘86. However, the niceties of the competition end there and have not been emulated in the upkeep of this bench. That’s not to say it’s falling apart, but it’s certainly showing signs of its age: The damp is setting into the timber, the lichen is spreading, and the vegetation is starting to creep onto the concrete base. A little TLC could restore this bench to the pride of the green again. It was a comfortable place to sit, if not a little damp on a dewy morning. The Bledisloe Cup was scrapped in 2009 due to a lack of interest from Gloucestershire villages. I’d speculate the interest in the maintenance of this bench probably ended before then. 6/10, lots of bark but not a lot of bite.’
Stourhead National Trust Rated 6/10
‘Stourhead ‘a living work of art’. Those words from 1750 still ring true today, the gardens and Palladian-style buildings were beautiful and made for a wonderful place to walk. Dotted around the grounds were small signposts encouraging people to “Pause, notice, reflect” as part of the 125th anniversary of the @nationaltrust. This year, unlike any other, has allowed us the time and space to pause and notice the world around us and I think we can all agree it’s pretty spectacular – especially at this time of the year. With any luck, people have noticed benches a little more too! As for this bench, it was solid, the back had a substantial protruding curve, the seat sloped gently and cushioned the buttocks well. I like the bulky design and the little holes. The bridle path was a suitable base and the fallen leaves added an extra texture and sound to the seating experience. The lack of plaque was unfortunate but not unexpected given that its privately owned land. Very little needs to be said about the view and it’s surroundings, this is a place where you could sit for hours. A solid 6/10.’
Joseph Temitope Victoria, nicknamed ‘Temmie,’ is a GreenLemon Author and Content Creator. After her studies at Olabisi Onabanjo University, where she got a B.Sc. degree in Geography and Regional Planning, Temitope worked as Journalist with a specialization in Business and Economy. Temitope also holds an M.Sc. degree in Population and Manpower Planning, and interestingly she’s a self-taught poem writer. She owns a website ‘TemmiesAnthology’ and has spent nearly 6years writing on several niches. Whenever there’s free time, she spends it editing books – one of her newest is ‘In His Green Book’ by Terence A. Asitibasi. Temitope can certainly do whatever she sets her mind on.