Afternoon tea at The Cornwall

I love afternoon tea. Not just for the selection of sweet and savoury treats, but because it’s so very British, an occasion and usually eaten in a lovely location.

Originally introduced by the Duchess of Bedford in 1840, afternoon tea bridged the gap between lunch and dinner. At this time, it had become fashionable to serve dinner later, at around 8pm and so the Duchess found herself peckish later in the afternoon.

Although originally consisting of tea, bread and butter, it became a stylish social event during the 1880s – when upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats especially for the occasion.

Fast forward to late-May this year and the first and only Laura Ashley The Tea Room opened in Cornwall. Beautifully decorated and with views out over the garden and parkland, the tea room is light, bright and welcoming.

These days there’s no need to wear your best hat, but you can still expect to feel the sense of occasion. Deciding to forego lunch, the two of us were hopeful that there’d be enough room to try a little of everything.

The only decision we needed to make was which of Tregothnan’s delicious teas to choose from. I’m normally very much an English Breakfast Tea type of person but was encouraged to try the Afternoon Tea blend – a lighter, more delicate combination.   

Soon after the tea arrived, a three-tiered stand appeared, laden with food. Deciding against eating all of the finger sandwiches of beef brisket and horseradish, egg, and cucumber and cream cheese before sweet, we mixed it up (just in case we got full!) Also on the savoury tier was a mini spinach and Cornish Yarg quiche and salmon blini.

 A duo of buttermilk scones (plain and golden raisin), accompanied by Rodda’s clotted cream and strawberry jam sat on the second tier, with carrot cake, raspberry macaron, chocolate brownie, lemon posset and triple layer cake at the top.

We surprised ourselves by being able to try a little of almost everything, with the option to take anything we couldn’t manage home with us in a lovely branded box. Everything was delicious and we left feeling very relaxed and still full at dinner time.

A trip to The Cornwall for afternoon tea this summer is a must. With the option to sit outside on the terrace if the weather’s warm and sunny, it’s the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon. If you’re looking to make a day of it, you can even spend time at the on-site spa or enjoy a walk around the grounds.

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