The Classic Afternoon Tea
Is there anything more quintessential of English customs than the classic afternoon or high tea? What better way to spend a couple of hours in the day than to sit down and enjoy an assortment of well prepared, tasty finger sandwiches followed by warm homemade sultana scones covered with thick Clotted Cream and Strawberry or Raspberry Jam? Perhaps add several dainty, delicate homemade cakes, washing it all down with lashings of warm tea and suddenly all is at peace in the world!
I recently visited the The Welcombe Hallmark Hotel, situated within 157 acres of landscaped gardens & grounds, yet only a couple of miles from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, one of the most popular visitor destinations in the UK and birthplace of the man widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist, William Shakespeare.
The Welcombe is superbly located for exploring explore Stratford-upon-Avon, you can visit the Bard’s birthplace, take in one of his plays at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre or simply enjoy a boat trip sailing along the picturesque River Avon. There are few hotels in Stratford that can offer the experience and beautiful setting of The Welcombe. Their 18-hole championship golf course has also played host to some of the world’s top golfers and has some of the best spa facilities in town!
Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!
If you’re looking to enjoy afternoon tea in Stratford-upon-Avon, The Welcombe is the ideal choice. Their traditional afternoon tea is available daily in the Trevelyan Restaurant overlooking the Italian gardens, in the relaxing lounge area or if the weather if good outside on the open terraces.
Anna Maria, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, is credited with the invention of afternoon tea in 1840. She is said to have experienced what she called a ‘sinking feeling’ in the middle of the afternoon due to the long gap between a light lunch and her evening meal which during the early nineteenth century was served at around eight o clock. To relieve her hunger pangs she asked her footman to bring her a pot of tea, bread, butter and cake in the late afternoon for a little light refreshment.
She began to enjoy this ritual so much she began to invite her friends over for tea and gossip about the latest scandal and the afternoon tea was born! The ritual caught on and afternoon tea became all the rage among the upper crust. The Earl of Sandwich had earlier had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread, hence the sandwich!
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Afternoon tea continued to become a fashionable social event in which upper-class society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.
My wife and I enjoyed a delicious Afternoon Tea called The Countess, in the spacious and elegant Trevelyan Restaurant overlooking the stunning Italian gardens. From our table placed directly next to the large open windows, framed with ceiling to floor curtains, I could look out over the beautiful gardens and across the golf course to distant fields and hills, over thirty miles away.
The tea was delivered in an authentic setting by friendly and welcoming serving staff. Our tall elegant cake stand contained a selection of luxury finger sandwiches and open rolls with homemade scones, nestled on the top plate. Small glass pots spread around the base were filled with the finest jam and clotted cream.
We were served a selection of dainty luxury finger sandwiches with delicious fillings, which included Tuna & thinly sliced Cucumber, Ham & Tomato, Roasted Peppers on a spicy Houmous, Tomato & Cheese and open Chicken rolls. A number of grapes, blueberries, strawberries and water cress decorated the spread.
I’m an afternoon tea type of girl. I come from a Russian background where we love our teas. So between lunch and dinner after training I come home and I love a nice cup of tea with jam in it, as we drink it there. Black English Breakfast with raspberry jam is my favorite.
We then went on to the Homemade scones with a large helping of thick clotted cream & the finest sweet strawberry jam. Arguments continue to rage over the order in which the cream and Jam should be placed on the sliced scone. In a Devon Cream Tea, it is cream on the scone then the Jam; in Cornwall, the Jam is spread first followed by the cream! It is really just a matter of preference – for me it’s the Cornish method, cream on top of Jam. Superb!
Add some delicate afternoon tea pastries, petit fours and macaroon and you have one of the best afternoon teas in the county of Warwickshire. Several pots of our chosen tea plus a chilled glass of Prosecco to begin with made for a perfect leisurely afternoon. It was a great way to start the weekend in the beautiful surroundings of a former 19th century Grade II listed country mansion house.
The serving staff were friendly and professional, kindly answering my questions about the history of the Hotel and the afternoon tea. If you have any food allergies, are dairy intolerant, wheat, yeast, and eggs or Gluten Free let the waiting staff know and they will look after your individual needs!
The Welcome afternoon tea was simply delightful. This is how tea should always be served! There was no need for us to eat again for the rest of the day! If you are looking to enjoy an afternoon tea in Stratford Upon Avon area, why not call in to The Welcome Hotel. You will not be disappointed.
Telephone: 0330 028 3422
Fax: 0330 058 8315
Disclosure: My visit was courtesy of The Hallmark Welcome Hotel. The views and comments expressed are as usual my own.