insideSUSSEX’s Favourite Cream Teas
Is there anything more British than a nice cream tea with lashings of clotted cream, oodles of strawberry jam, freshly baked scones, and a pot of Earl Grey? And is there anything better than making this tradition your own by trying a different flavour of jam and new variety of tea? So many versions, so little time, but each one has something in common – the cream tea is beloved by everyone.
Afternoon tea became highly fashionable in the 1880s when Anna, seventh Duchess of Bedford, fancied a snack between lunch and dinner. She chose sandwiches, cake, and a perfect pot of tea. She began to invite friends round to ‘take tea’ with her, and soon enough this practice became a well loved tradition nationwide. Everyone wanted to be like the fashionable and beautiful duchess.
Although the counties that may well spring to mind when thinking about cream teas are Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset, and Cornwall, Sussex holds its own in the scone and dainty sandwiches stakes, and there are some fabulously delicious teas to be had all over this county of ours.
The Hickstead Hotel // Hickstead // www.classiclodges.co.uk/our-hotels/the-hickstead
There are three delicious afternoon teas to sample at The Hickstead, a beautiful hotel just 20 minutes from Gatwick Airport, yet surrounding by stunning West Sussex countryside. Try the classic cream tea, complete with homemade fruit scones, strawberry preserve, clotted cream and butter, as well as a very special ‘cake of the day’ and unlimited tea and coffee refills. The Deluxe Afternoon Tea comes complete with a selection of finger sandwiches and various freshly baked cakes, as well as the essential scones, jam, and cream. And the Champagne Afternoon Tea is the same as the Deluxe, with the added benefit of a lovely glass of bubbly.
Gravetye Manor // West Hoathly // www.graveytemanor.co.uk
Gravetye has a fascinating history (spanning back to 1598 when Richard Infield built the manor for his new bride, Katharine Compton) and a stunning atmosphere of calm and peace, so it is the ideal place to enjoy a mouth watering, very special cream tea. Served every afternoon between 3pm and 6pm, you can enjoy a selection of sandwiches and cakes, warm scones with clotted cream and homemade jam, and a pot of tea from the wide range available on Graveyte Manor’s menu. For some added opulence, add a glass of sparkling wine to your treat.
Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club // Forest Row // www.ashdownpark.com
At the Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, the cream teas are award winning, and the homemade sandwiches, scones, and cakes are not only tasty, but they look gorgeous too. A feast for the eyes and for the taste buds! With thick clotted cream and perfectly produced jams and preserves, you will enjoy every crumb. You can eat in the exquisite period lounge, on the terrace enjoying the view of the landscaped lawns and scenic lake, or the staff at Ashdown Park will be happy to pack your cream tea into a picnic hamper for you to take out and about with you.
The Happy Teapot // Worthing // 07427 613887
The Happy Teapot is a family run tearoom offering delicious homemade cakes (including gluten and dairy free), freshly prepared breakfasts and light lunches as well as beautifully presented afternoon teas. To try something from their delicious menu you can find them open seven days a week opposite the library in Worthing.
Duddleswell Tea Rooms // Uckfield // www.duddleswelltearooms.co.uk
At Duddleswell Tea Rooms in the heart of the Ashdown Forest, only the best of ingredients are used – from free range eggs to locally produced butter, this is why the homemade goodies on offer here taste so wonderful. Everything is freshly made daily, and along with the fluffy scones, numerous cakes, clotted cream, jams, and finger sandwiches, there is proper loose leaf tea and other traditional tearoom dishes. Although not open at weekends, it is worth a weekday jaunt to visit this excellent tearoom, and enjoy the vintage atmosphere and delightful delicacies.
Pashley Manor Gardens // Ticehurst // www.pashleymanorgardens.com
Known as “one of the finest gardens in England”, Pashley Manor Gardens is a beautiful place to visit when on a day out in East Sussex. Here you can see Romantic English landscaping and artistic planting, all framed by elegant and ancient trees, fabulous fountains, and well appointed ponds. The manor house itself (a combination of Tudor and Georgian styles) is a private family home, and makes a memorable backdrop to the breath taking gardens. The on site café serves some excellent dishes, including a superb cream tea. With whipped cream from Hinxden Dairy and jam from St Georges of Lewes, you can enjoy a handmade fruit scone and accompaniments whilst overlooking this stunning garden. Or why not try something different, and have a savoury cheese scone with extra butter and cheese (locally produced) instead?
Amberley Castle // Arundel // www.amberleycastle.co.uk
Amberley Castle is 900 years old, but the hotel within its 60 foot high walls (along with an always open portcullis) is completely up to date, and if you are looking for a different, luxurious, and memorable stay in a beautiful part of the world, Amberley Castle is the place to be. Facilities include an 18 hole putting green, a croquet lawn, open fires in the wintertime, and of course the resident peacocks and alpacas roaming the extensive grounds. Along with the other treats in store for you here, there is an exquisite afternoon tea on offer, which includes finger sandwiches, fruit and plain scones, clotted cream, seasonal preserves, a selection of cakes, and your choice of tea of coffee. You can even turn afternoon tea into a celebration, and add an indulgent glass of champagne.
Horsted Place // Uckfield // www.horstedplace.co.uk
Horsted Place is well known throughout East Sussex for its stunning afternoon teas, and with a reputation like that to keep up, it’s little wonder that when you arrive to enjoy your treat, you can be sure of a warm welcome, beautiful surroundings, and wonderful food. In the winter, take tea in the delightful drawing room in front of a roaring fire, and take all the time you want (and need) enjoy your sumptuous afternoon tea. In the summer, the terrace is open for you to relax and unwind in great company with the best food. Everything here is homemade, and that includes the chef’s very special raspberry jam. The menu includes a selection of finger sandwiches, plain and fruit scones, raspberry jam, clotted cream, a selection of homemade cakes and pastries, and of course a range of teas and coffees. Add a glass of Pimms of champagne to upgrade to a true occasion.
Badger’s Tea House // Alfriston // www.badgersteahouse.com
Once upon a time, Badger’s Tea House was the village bakery in Alfriston, and at 500 years old the building has a lot of stories to tell. You might even get to hear one when you pop in for afternoon tea. When you are sipping tea poured from a silver teapot from real china cups, whether you are sitting in the idyllic walled garden or inside the cosy tea room, you can certainly tell that these walls have heard it all. Enjoy your tea with a selection of freshly baked scones (with clotted cream and jam) and perfectly made cakes. The emphasis here is on quality, with organic free-range eggs, fresh flowers on your table and good service.
Metro Deco // Brighton // www.metro-deco.com
Metro Deco is a 1930s Parisian style tearoom in the heart of Brighton’s Kemp Town. Here you can immerse yourself in another time, and even take some of it home with you (all the furniture – in the art deco style – is for sale). Listen to jazz, unwind in style, and enjoy some of the 18 different blends of tea available here. There are even tea cocktails on the menu, each one bringing out something new and entirely different when it comes to the country’s favourite drink. As for afternoon tea itself, it is said to be one of the most popular in Brighton, and includes not only home baked scones with clotted cream and jam, but also petit fours, freshly made mini bread rolls, and various “French fancies” too.
Avocet Gallery & Tea Room // Rye // www.avocetgalleryandtea.co.uk
Close to Rye Harbour, this tearoom is also an art gallery, so not only can you enjoy a scrumptiously traditional mid afternoon snack (with some lovely modern variations including pear cake and Earl Grey load), but you can also admire the paintings hanging all around you. Afternoon cream tea consists of two fluffy, fat homemade (on the premises) scones, locally made gourmet jam (strawberry or raspberry), and real, thick clotted cream as well as a pot of tea or coffee.
Heaven Farm // Uckfield // www.thestabletearooms.co.uk
There is more to Heaven Farm that cream tea, although it is delicious, and should most definitely be enjoyed. Here you can also browse the wonderful craft shop, enjoy the farming museum, walk the fantastic nature trail, and indulge in the tearoom. Cream tea consists of the most delectable scones, double cream, jam, unlimited tea, butter, and of course a selection of luxurious cakes including such wonders as Dutch chunky apple pie, hot chocolate fudge cake, and a zesty lemon meringue pie.
Bateman’s // Burwash // www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans
Bateman’s, one of the many National Trust properties dotted around Sussex, does a wonderful cream tea. This is where Rudyard Kipling lived, and the house and gardens are a fascinating, joyful experience of a day out – but what better to top it all off than a tasty treat in the tearoom? You can enjoy your cream tea in the walled garden if the weather lets you. The Mulberry Tearoom is where you can sample the incredibly moreish delights of Bateman’s, with a multitude of cakes, bakes, and pastries as well as scones, clotted cream, and succulent local jam.
Goodwood House // Chichester // www.goodwood.com
Racing isn’t the only thing Goodwood is famous for; its cream teas are excellent as well. Served in the magnificent ballroom, you can enjoy the stunning artwork and treat yourself to something just that little bit special. Traditional cream tea consists of a warm, freshly baked scone, delectable jam, Rhodda clotted cream, and lashings of tea (or coffee if you prefer). Upgrade to the luxury cream tea and add finger sandwiches and a selection of cakes and pastries to your good looking Goodwood platter.
The Grand // Brighton // www.grandbrighton.co.uk
Voted one of the top 14 afternoon teas in the UK by The Independent, The Grand – iconic in so many ways – really outdoes itself when it comes to giving you something to remember and savour. Here you can have hand cut sandwiches with a choice of sensational fillings, a pot of Grand blended tea (or your choice from a number of other varieties), freshly made scones with strawberry preserves, and real West County clotted cream to boot. And that’s not all; don’t forget the homemade cakes and pastries all made that day by the chef patisserie. Enjoy your tea in the Victoria Lounge where you can look out over Brighton’s wonderful seafront and let the world go by as you indulge in deliciousness.