There's plenty to keep you occupied on a day trip to Bath. You might well take in a visit to the Assembly Rooms and its Museum of Costume. But if your visit coincides with certain Sunday afternoons, you have the opportunity to dance in the sumptuous Georgian surroundings of the Ballroom.
In the 18th century the Assembly Rooms would have been packed with guests dancing, playing cards, tea drinking, talking and flirting. Today, at the monthly dances both experienced and novice dancers can waltz and quickstep around the Ballroom to a live band. Afternoon tea and refreshments are available.
This may be the most atmospheric dance venue in England. The next dances are on 13th September and 11th October.
The Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath
Returning to North Devon after three years, there was one thing on our holiday plans that we all agreed on unanimously: cream tea at Tordown Farm.
Sheila and her granddaughter welcomed us into the farmhouse, where little has changed for the last century, and proceeded to bring mountains of freshly baked fluffy warm scones, clotted cream and jam. This was followed shortly by home made cakes and pots of tea and coffee, till the table was groaning with all manner of home baked loveliness.
Take the country walk round the beautiful farmland and local countryside if you feel you need to justify the calories or want to tire the kids out, but being northerners we are well versed in the merits of comfort food.
For all you world weary city dwellers, be warned, Tordown Farm will fuel the desire to opt out and live that idyllic simple life we all wish for.
Off the A361, near Swimbridge, North Devon. Follow the brown tea cup signs.
Tel: 01271 830265
Iconic but still accessible cathedral - historic but with meaning for the every day person. Just follow the spires.
With so many hostels available in London, it is such a daunting task trying to pick one when you stay. St Christophers Inn’s Orient Espresso is one of the best hostels the capital has to offer, and is extremely popular with female travellers in particular. The St Christopher’s chain has a few hostels in the area, but Espresso’s situated above a coffee shop and smack bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. It is one of its best offererings with clean, comfortable, relaxing rooms and a great atmosphere.
It has a special Oasis female only sanctuary with an 8 bed girls dorm which is really good for feeling safer and more comfortable in an unknown city. Even if you want to stay in for a while after you arrive there is free internet, chess sets, travel library and chill out room so there’s little chance of getting bored whatever your mood is.
From the hostel you can easily walk to Southbank, and take a stroll along the Thames which is one of the best way to see the city’s historic landmarks such as the London Eye and Big Ben. Most of the main galleries are also within easy reach of the river so you can soak up all the culture you want, if you only want to see a few of the galleries then definately drop in at the Tate Modern and make sure you keep an eye out for some of the amazing graffitti which is scattered about.
Heavenly delights await the visitor at Hell's Mouth cafe on the road between Portreath and Godrevy. Freshly baked, deliciously delectable, plain or fruit homemade scones are accompanied by more local clotted cream and fruity jam than you can manage, all washed down by thirst quenching hot tea You need to work up a healthy appetite to do justice to this feast. Walk the glorious stretch of coast path between Godrevy lighthouse and Hell's Mouth Bay, seal spotting and taking in stunning views of St. Ives Bay,the north Cornish coast and the wide blue atlantic, then cross over the road to the cafe and indulge.
Godrevy, Gwithian, Cornwall
Selworthy village climbs up a steep, narrow hill with truly breathtaking views from the church at the top - historically known as "Heaven's Gate". The views are of Exmoor are simply stunning and indeed a funeral was just about to take place when we returned to the car and we were quite jealous, thinking "what a place to go!" Tucked away in a tranquil garden just to the side of the church is the perfect thatched cottage, owned by the National Trust. Discreet as can be, indicated only by a small sign by the gate, a tea shop is housed. Inside the perfect thatched cottage is the perfect selection of cakes displayed on the perfect antique cabinet. You will feel like a kid in a sweet shop, the cat who got the cream or Hansel or Gretel. However difficult it may be to deny yourself the cakes which make your eyes nearly pop out your head, you will not be disappointed if you opt instead for the cream tea. Choose from the two-scone or the one- scone (all I had room for) and choose from raspberry (my personal favourite), strawberry or apricot jam and your scone will be fresh and warm with ample cream. The perfect well-used but loved floral china tea service will add to the decadence of it all. The setting is just unbeatable. The hidden nature of the cottage makes you feel even more naughty, and makes you think about keeping the secret to yourelf.
Just off the A39, west of Minehead
The best cream teas in England are served on Sunday afternoons in the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul in Great Missenden. The Church is situated above the beautiful Misbourne valley in Buckinghamshire. Teas are served by members of the Church and include an exciting range of home-made cakes and scones. You can eat your tea inside the wonderful 14th-century Church or take your tray outside where you can sit with views over the Buckinghamshire countryside. On many Sunday afternoons, the teas are accompanied by music – ranging from organ recitals to local young student musicians and classical guitar to modern jazz – details are on the Church’s website. www.missendenchurch.org.uk
The Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0BA. 01494 862352.
Nearest station: Great Missenden (Chiltern Rail)
Situated on the most southerly point of England with uninterrupted sea views and under the flash of the Lizard Lighthouse above. Take an exhilarating coastal walk before calling in to the Polpeor Café and feast your eyes on some extreme homemade delights. You may be forgiven for being tempted to try a variation of the traditional cream tea on offer and opt for a Jubilee Meringue instead: a moutainous meringue topped with clotted cream served with a delicious apple and blackberry compot and icecream for £4.50
Polpeor Cafe, The Lizard, Helston, Cornwall, TR12 7NU
For cream teas, forget Devon and head for Falling Foss Tea Gardens, five miles south of Whitby. Located in an idyllic woodland setting beside the waterfall of the same name, the tea garden has been lovingly restored to its early 20th century appearance by owners Jack and Steph, who unfailingly offer a warm welcome whatever the weather. Reopened in 2008, the tea garden has established a reputation for its home baking, not least the freshly baked scones, accompanied by generous portions of home made raspberry jam and lashings of cream, all for £1.50! Young and old are catered for, with play equipment in the garden and children of all ages are invited to participate in pooh sticks from the nearby footbridge. The tea garden is popular with walkers and ramblers, with the Coast to Coast path passing nearby, but most customers are there for just one thing – the cream teas.
Midge Hall, Sneaton Forest, Whitby, YO22 5JD.
You don’t have to go all the way to the West Country for an excellent cream tea.
If you plan a visit to Kew Gardens, London then resist the temptations of the refreshment pavilions inside the gardens and save yourself for a special treat just outside.
Exit the Gardens by the Victoria Gate and cross Kew Road to find a quaint half timbered building with a large sign showing ‘Newens - The Original Maids of Honour’ on the front of a tearoom and bakery.
The excellent cream teas here come with all the usual components but with an option of the ‘Maids of Honour’ cakes, usually served warm. Tradition has it that these cakes were enjoyed by Ann Boleyn and her maids when she was being wooed by Henry VIII. They are accompanied by your choice of tea served in delicate blue and white, willow pattern china and if you can’t manage it all then you can always buy some from the bakery to take home for later.
288 Kew Road, Kew Gardens,Surrey TW9 3DU
Tel 020 8940 2752
Nearest tube: Kew Gardens
Nearest rail: Richmond
In fairly unassuming premises the Corn Dolly front door opens to a wonderful old fashioned cafe/tea room with friendly service and the most fantastic cream tea we have ever consumed - in fact we did not manage it all it was so large!
The scones are enormous but do not let size fool you. Freshly made and very light my wife considers them the best she has had - she being something of an expert at making them anyway. Supplied with lashings of fresh Devon clotted cream, exquisite home made jam and proper tea in a proper teapot it really is a wonderful experience - what's more you can have seconds if you want!
115a East Street
Devon EX36 3DB
between Tiverton and Barnstaple
A cream tea at the Knoll House, at Studland in Dorset, is not for people nervous about their cholesterol levels. Large light scones, freshly made in the kitchen, are accompanied by lashings of thick strawberry jam and cream so stiff it can be cut with a knife. A traditional loaded tea tray is brought out clinking to you on the terrace, so as you eat you can gaze out across manicured lawns through the pillars of mature pine trees to the sea. The view sweeps from Old Harry Rocks to the right, past the Isle of Wight to the townscape of Bournemouth. There is always plenty to see, with sailing boats as well as ferries plying in and out of Poole Harbour.
But visitors must plan their cream tea with military precision. Teas are advertised only on a small board in reception, directing visitors to order tea in the dining room. It is served only from 3.45 to 5.15 pm – five minutes late and you’ve missed one of the best cream teas in England. Cream tea for one is currently £5.
It's a lovely quaint little tea shop that sells teas and coffees from around the world and does a wicked cream tea.
They claim their business dates back to 1926. They say over 50 million cups of their own tea and coffee are drunk every year. Quite an experience.
Northern Tea Merchants
193 Chatsworth Road
Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S402BA
Tel: 01246 232600, Fax: 01246 555991
Every Sunday through August, this small rural village hall, situated in stunning countryside near Chichester, does an excellent cream tea with scones, jam and a vast selection of cakes - all made in the village by whichever community group is hosting the afternoon. Sitting outside on the grass or seated in the hall, the volunteer waitresses provide a warm welcome and efficient service! All this for under £5.00.
Downs Road, West Stoke, Near Chichester, West Sussex.
Not that I’m biased; but there is only one possible way to enjoy a cream tea. It has to be a Cornish cream tea, in Cornwall, and within sight and sound of the sea. Walk the circular coastal path of St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, take all day, and it’s possible to fit in at least three. With the ambience right, attention can then be turned to the secondary requirements: yes, you will be sat outside in tranquil gardens where “peace comes dropping slow,” yes there is enough thick yellow Cornish clotted to make you feel nauseous (after your third loaded scone), real jam, pretty crockery, and unlimited refills of tea with no stinting on the milk. I first did this cream tea crawl on my honeymoon in 1983 and I’ve been taking my husbands along ever since. Juliet’s Garden and Carn Vean Tea Gardens are highly recommended; but once back in Hugh Town, the crème of cream teas can be enjoyed on the ramparts of Star Castle Hotel, an Elizabethan castle in the shape of an eight pointed star, overlooking the harbour. (When the nausea passes off, you might feel like going down when the sun does, to the Dungeon bar below and ordering the best five course dinner on the island).
Cream teas are £5.00 per person and include 2 home-made
fruit scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam and a pot of tea.
For the decor and the weight of history!
The cafe is located in the museum's original refreshment rooms, the Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms. They are high ceilinged, with the original tile decorations depicting such themes as the Seasons and the months of the year.
We sat close to a large black range which I wanted to imagine lit, serving tea to ladies in long skirts and gents in top hats. The tea which was served from china tea pots was made with real tea leaves in large bags. There were large, adequate scones, lucious clotted cream and lovely jam - all in proper china dishes. We also had decent Victoria Sponge and fruit cake.
Tea, scones, cream and jam for about £6
V&A South Kensington
London SW7 2RL
Tel. +44 (0)20 7942 2000
Nearest tube station: South Kensington - follow signs
Holyrood Park was originally a royal hunting estate and is most famous for being the home of the natural rock formation known as Arthur’s Seat, which is shaped like a crouching lion.
The park is also home to the Salisbury Crags (a series of cliffs) and three lochs. It’s the perfect place to go for a walk if you want to escape the city of Edinburgh and you can download a leaflet featuring a number of walking routes from the web site below.
My boyfriend had been promising to take me for ages and we were married by the time I eventually got to experience this wonderful tea room in a beautiful spot on Dartmoor. It was worth the wait. The scones are delicious: homemade to a secret recipe and served with a mountain of clotted cream. But the setting is what really sets this apart. An ideal point to start or finish a walk along the Dart and in the grounds there is an intriguing rescue centre for (mostly) wildfowl. Not just a great cream tea, but a great day out too.
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