From AD 950 to 1650, it was larger than Bath, to the north. The town originally grew due to the weaving industry, and weavers' cottages can still be found, contrasting with Georgian terraces. The town has grown substantially in recent years but still retains its centre, most of which falls within a conservation area.
Notable modern day attractions include the museum, the Cheese and Grain hall now an entertainment venue, and the restored Rook Lane Chapel.
The Saxon occupation of Frome (Frõm) is the earliest of which there is evidence, the settlement being due to the foundation of a monastery by Aldhelm in 685. A witenagemot was held there in 934, so that Frome must already have been a place of some size. At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor was owned by King William. Local tradition asserts that Frome was a medieval borough, and the reeve of Frome is occasionally mentioned in documents after the reign of Edward I, but there is no direct evidence that Frome was a borough and no trace of any charter granted to it. It was not represented in parliament until given one member by the Reform Act of 1832. Separate representation ceased in 1885. Frome was never incorporated.
A charter of Henry VII to Edmund Leversedge, then lord of the manor, granted the right to have fairs on July 22 and September 21. In the 18th century two other fairs on February 24 and November 25 were held. Cattle fairs are now held on the last Wednesday in February and November, and a cheese fair on the last Wednesday in September. The Wednesday market is held under the charter of Henry VII. There is also a Saturday cattle market at nearby Standerwick. The manufacture of woollen cloth has been established since the 15th century, Frome being the only Somerset town in which this staple industry has flourished continuously.
In 2003, Frome was granted Fairtrade Town status.
The Frome Parliament constituency returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832, until it was abolished for the 1950 general election. Frome itself being transferred to the Wells division but most of the remainder of the constituency forming the bulk of the new Somerset North which was itself abolished again for the 1983 general election becoming Somerton and Frome. The current representative is Liberal Democrat MP David Heath CBE, although the seat has been contested for many years by the Conservatives. During the general election of 2005, in which 70% of those eligible turned out to vote, David Heath increased his majority to over 800 votes (1.5% of the total).
It is within the South West England (European Parliament constituency) which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
It is unevenly built on high ground above the River Frome, which is here crossed by a stone bridge of five arches. It was formerly called Frome or Froome Selwood, after the neighbouring forest of Selwood; and the country surround is still richly wooded and picturesque.
Population of the urban district in 1901 was 11,057. In 2002 this figure has grown to 20440.
The market-hall, museum, school of art, and a free grammar school, founded under Edward VI, may be noted among buildings and institutions. The chief industries are brewing and art metal-working, also printing, metal-founding, and the manufacture of cloth, silk, tools and cards for wool dressing. Dairy farming is largely practised in the neighbourhood. Selwood Forest was long a favourite haunt of brigands, and even in the 18th century gave shelter to a gang of coiners and highwaymen.
Frome is reputed to have a systems of tunnels beneath the streets of the town centre. Some entrances are visible above ground e.g. in the wall at the top of Stoney Street, with other entrances in the cellars of shops and houses. Their purpose and full extent remains unknown, but they have been under investigation in recent years by at least one local group and a documentary has been made
Frome station was opened in 1850 and is one of the oldest railway stations still in operation in Britain, served by rail and lies on the Bristol to Weymouth line. Trains are operated by First Great Western and the town's train station can be found off Wallbridge, to the east of the town.
The branch railway line which previously served Frome from Radstock is now the route of National Cycle Route 24, otherwise known as the Colliers Way.
The Cheese and Grain, a former farm produce warehouse which was converted into a market and concert hall in 1997, hosts a variety of bands with a capacity of up to 800. Local musicians include American saxophonist Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis; hardcore punk band "Baysix" and the Beatles' tribute "Sgt. Pepper's Only Dart Board Band".
Frome's only Cinema, the Westway, can be found in Cork Street in the town centre.
The parish church of St John the Baptist, with its tower and spire, was built between the late 12th century and early 15th century replacing a saxon building that had stood since 685AD. It was further restored around 1860, and contains a chancel, Lady chapel and baptistery. Fragments of Norman work are left; the interior is elaborately adorned with sculptures and stained glass. It is a grade II* listed building.