AFTERNOON DELIGHT AT STONELEIGH ABBEY
By Ann Evans
Photographs by Rob Tysall at Tysall’s Photography
There’s nothing more English than an afternoon cream tea. Dainty sandwiches, cakes, fresh warm scones with clotted cream and jam and a pot of tea – or coffee if you prefer.
And if you’re going to treat yourself, then what better setting could you ask for than The Orangery at Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire.
This Victorian addition to the Abbey looks out over tranquil green parkland, ancient trees and the River Avon. Surrounded by acres of greenery and woodland paths it’s perfect for walking off a few of the calories after enjoying your afternoon treat.
We’d decided to explore Stoneleigh, booking in for a guided tour which I would highly recommend. You’ll learn the secrets of the Leigh family who took over what was a 12th century Cistercian monastery, maybe discover a ghost or two, and learn of the links between Stoneleigh and novelist Jane Austen. A fascinating tour. But after all that culture, it was time to eat!
We went for Afternoon Tea, which as well as a cream tea of fruit scones, clotted cream and jam, also includes dainty sandwiches and a choice of cakes. For me it’s the spectacle of being brought a three-tiered display of mouth watering delicacies that makes it such a treat.
We started with sandwiches. There were three different filling with white and brown bread and a little salad on the side, which were all very nice. And then there’s the fruit scones, which I have to say, were my favourite. Big, warm, soft and flaky served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve – heavenly!
Finally, if you’ve room, move onto the selection of cakes which included petits fours – those dainty little cakes – and then a large slice of whatever sort of cake you ordered. I went for chocolate, and photographer Rob chose carrot cake. Neither of us could manage them though – but it’s no disaster as the friendly staff are used to giving diners a ‘doggy box’ to take home whatever they can’t eat at the time.
It certainly was a lovely way of spending the afternoon.
It’s always best to book your table in The Orangery. For details of opening times and prices please visit: http://www.stoneleighabbey.org/ or call 01926 858585.