Cream tea

How Civilised: 10 Brilliant Places To Enjoy Afternoon Tea

Cream tea

For a fittingly fine way to enjoy the quintessentially English custom of afternoon tea, the Treasure Houses of England’s consortium of historic homes, palaces and castles ask us to go forth and indulge in this traditional pastime in spectacular surrounds and inimitable stately style.

Here are ten brilliant places for afternoon tea, take a look…

1. Woburn Abbey: The quintessential English tradition of Afternoon Tea is said to have been popularised around 1840 by Duchess Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke of Bedford, who entertained her friends at Woburn Abbey.  Visitors today can experience Afternoon Tea at Woburn at the Duchess’ Tea Room or at the Estate’s hotel The Inn at Woburn (pre-booking required).

2. Beaulieu: Enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea with a wide selection of cakes and pastries all baked in-house in the Brabazon Coffee Shop and Restaurant.  Some produce comes from Lord Montagu’s own Victorian Kitchen garden; beetroot is transformed into a delicious moist cake and plums made into jam, to eat on scones with lashings of Dorset clotted cream.

3. Blenheim Palace: You can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the elegant surroundings only a palace could provide. Tea is served in the palace’s Indian Room, or Champagne Bar, overlooking the beautiful fountains on the Water Terraces for a truly inspired setting. Choose from a delectable selection of menus including a traditional Blenheim Tea, a Churchill Champagne Tea or a luxury Winston Churchill Premier Tea, inspired by the great leader it includes his favourite tipple Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV.

Woburn Abbey
Woburn Abbey.

4. Burghley House: A range of Afternoon Teas are on offer in the Orangery Restaurant at Burghley, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in the eighteenth century. The ornate gothic windows provide a bright and elegant space to indulge in homemade scones, cakes and a range of teas while overlooking the peaceful and romantic Rose Garden.

5. Castle Howard: Enjoy an afternoon treat at Castle Howard in either the bistro style Courtyard Cafe or the more traditional Fitzroy Room.  On offer are seasonal menus prepared by their top chefs that include a generous selection of freshly made sandwiches, salads and heavenly homemade cakes.

6. Chatsworth: Here you can take afternoon tea in the Cavendish Restaurant (from 16 March 2014) built within the 18th century Stables designed by the famous architect James Paine. Enjoy homemade dainty finger sandwiches, a selection of cakes and pastries freshly baked at Chatsworth every day and a wide choice of carefully selected leaf teas. Afternoon teas are available throughout the day and are pre-bookable online.

7. Harewood House: Experience the high life, relax on the south facing Terrace with views over the award-winning formal parterre and ‘Capability’ Brown’s landscape as Red Kites soar overhead. This is a place where sophisticated Georgian architecture meets contemporary style. Sample succulent finger sandwiches, an assortment of delicate pastries, fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, as well as a choice of freshly baked cakes from the trolley.

Hatfield House
Hatfield House (photo credit: Rod Edwards).

8. Hatfield House: Take tea to new and dizzy heights with Hatfield’s Helicopter Discovery Tour where you can escape on an eight mile helicopter pleasure flight over the estate to snatch spectacular aerial views of the stunning architecture of the house, rounded off by a delicious home-made cream tea at the house.

9. The Holkham Estate: There are two cafés offering afternoon tea and as part of a visit to Holkham Hall, you can discover the Stables Café in the adjacent sunny courtyard, perfect on a summer’s afternoon. Or there’s the Beach Café just a stone’s throw from the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea.  Whichever you opt for you can be sure to find plenty of mouth-watering home-made treats to indulge in.

10. Leeds Castle: Enjoy an afternoon treat with a cream tea in the 17th Century oak-beamed Fairfax Hall or outside in the sunshine on the Terrace overlooking the castle.  There is an excellent choice of freshly prepared hot and cold dishes on offer, along with cakes and other sweet treats, all of which can be enjoyed in a rustic farmhouse kitchen style setting featuring oak and wrought iron finishes. Just remember, this is Kent, not Yorkshire!

The Treasure Houses of England are ten of the most magnificent palaces, houses and castles in England today. Most are still homes to the great families who have owned them for generations. Others keep their heritage alive by re-creating scenes and events that have dominated and shaped England from the 9th century to the present day. You can find out more at

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