Last week our London girl, Charlotte Vowden, ventured out of the City for an afternoon of sheer indulgence at one of the country's prettiest afternoon tea destinations. Here's how she got on...
For my latest afternoon tea outing I ventured to Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire. The 18th century country retreat has just opened the doors of its grand ballroom for Heritage Afternoon Tea and I couldn’t resist a trip out of the city now the good weather has arrived.
Less than an hour from central London by car, Brocket Hall feels like a lifetime away. The ballroom has been so immaculately preserved and restored it feels as though you’ve travelled back in time. There were moments when I thought I might see a man in period costume gallop by on a horse rather than a man in a golf buggy on the course below.
A warm welcome is guaranteed as a butler service begins as soon as you enter the Hall. Friendly without being over-familiar the smartly attired butlers keenly share their knowledge - I learnt that the ballroom’s decorative ceiling dates back to 1760 and depicts the signs of the zodiac. It’s stunning, and I found it impossible to not gaze at it during tea to find all twelve signs.
The sandwiches, scones and sweets are presented on silver platters as and when you are ready so I took my time to appreciate both the food and ambience. A pianist played throughout my visit and the repertoire included both classic and contemporary numbers. The butler even checked I was comfortable with the volume.
Following the deeply-filled finger sandwiches, which included salmon and dill crème fraîche, the scones were served warm, just how I like them. With a choice of butter, clotted cream, jam and lemon curd there was plenty to dollop on them.
It was on the sweet platter that I found my only criticism of the tea as the lemon drizzle cake and battenberg slice were dry. I rectified the problem with some of the cream leftover from the scones so they were still very much enjoyed.
Each of the seven teas on the menu were accompanied by information on either their origin, their composition or their flavours. I had chamomile tea in a two cup teapot with a little honey which was supplied in a tiny jar on a plate with a doily. It was on recommendation from the butler as I had told him I had a particularly sweet tooth and I found it to be utterly delicious.
|Time for tea!|
As a former home to two British Prime Ministers and a favourite destination for members of the Royal Family, Brocket Hall has been a honeypot for prestigious gatherings for hundreds of years and The Heritage Afternoon Tea marks a new chapter in the ballroom’s rich history of entertaining.
If there was ever an afternoon tea that warranted a pretty frock for the ladies and a smart shirt for a men then this is it. It’s a place where happy memories are made beneath a twinkling chandelier over tea and cake.
|A Room with a View|
Tea is served every Sunday and is priced at £29.50 per person, or £42.00 with a glass of champagne. To make a reservation visit www.brocket-hall.co.uk or call 01707 368 700
Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.
DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.