01:16 27 May 2011
It's not known how this great English tradition first began. Both Cornwall and Devon claim the cream tea as their own, but historical records give Devon the crown. Eleventh century documents from Tavistock Abbey in Devon, contain monks’ descriptions of taking bread, cream and jam with tea.
The Devon tradition is to ladle cream onto a scone and add jam afterwards, whereas the Cornish camp first dress the scone with jam and follow with cream. Both schools of thought agree the scone ought to be plain (raisin-free), warm and freshly baked, the cream should be clotted and the jam must be strawberry. According to cream tea etiquette, raspberry jam is very untoward and applying butter is unspeakable.
However you take yours, you’re sure to enjoy them at one of these tearooms. Here is our guide to the loveliest places in Sussex to devour fluffy home-baked scones:
Litlington Tea Gardens, Litlington
Set within a large garden, in the heart of Litlington village, this is a lovely place for a cuppa. Created over 150 years ago, it is probably the oldest tea garden in Sussex. There are gorgeous walks from the village over the Downs and through Friston Forest. Satnav: BN26 5RB
T: 01323 870222
Open: 11-5:30 daily in summer.
Badgers Tea House, Alfriston
Cakes have been baked here for centuries because this was once the village bakery. Today it is a friendly tea room, serving scrummy cream teas. A sign reads: “We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.” They have a walled garden, in which (well-behaved) dogs are welcome.
Satnav: BN26 5UG
T: 01323 871 336
Open: 9.15-4 Mon-Fri, 9-4.30 weekends.
Metro Deco, Brighton
A 1930s Parisian-style tearoom in Brighton’s Kemp Town. Sit on art deco furniture (all for sale), listen to jazz and sup one of eighteen different blends of tea. The scones and gluten-free cakes are delicious.
Upper St James St, BN2 1JN
T: 07956 978115
Open: 8.30-10 Mon-Fri, 9.30-10 Sat and 10-9.30 Sun.
Duddleswell Tea Rooms, Ashdown Forest
Duddleswell has been brewing pots of tea and baking scones since 1936. Nestled in the heart of Ashdown Forest, this is the perfect place to re-fuel after a walk. The forest is Pooh Bear country, home to the 100 Aker Wood, the North Pole and the Gloomy Place.
Satnav: TN22 3BH
T: 01825 712126
Open: 2-4.45 Thurs-Mon.
Heaven Farm, near Uckfield
This working farm has a craft shop, a farming museum and a tearoom. There is also a nature trail if you want to walk off your scone(s) – the paths wind through the dappled shade of a woodland, past glades full of foxgloves. Satnav: TN22 3RG
T: 01825 790888
Open: 10-5 daily.
Post Office Tea Rooms, St Leonards on Sea
In the cosy surrounds of what was the old post office, this is an eccentric tearoom with a charming, retro feel. Switch off your phone (house rules), choose from regular or gluten-free scones and browse the vintage tea china on sale.
40a Marina, TN38 0B
T: 01424 426885
Open: 10.30-4 Wed-Sun, wheelchair access.
The National Trust bakes a lovely scone and this is one of the best places to sample one (or two). Bateman’s was the home of Rudyard Kipling and its rooms and gardens are a joy. The tearoom spills into the walled garden when sunny.
Satnav: TN19 7DS
T: 01435 882302
Open: 10-5 (closed Thurs and Fri), wheelchair access.
Winchelsea Farm Kitchen, Winchelsea
Formerly the award-winning Tea Tree tearoom, this is now foodie paradise. Relax with a tasty cream tea in the coffee shop or the courtyard, before shopping in the deli, which is jam-packed with a great range of organic and free-range local produce.
Satnav: TN36 4EA
T: 01797 226287
Open: 8-5 Mon-Sat.
Avocet Gallery & Tea Room, Rye
Situated between Rye Harbour and bird reserve, this is a tearoom and art gallery in one.
Savour cream teas and interesting home-made cakes, such as pear and Earl Grey loaf, while you admire the paintings hanging around you.
Ceramics and jewellery are also available for sale.
T: 01797 223005
Open: Wed-Sun 10.30-5.
Norton House Olde English Tearoom, Henfield
This quaint tearoom was once given the accolade of Tea Shop of the Year by the Tea Council.
Inside, the décor is traditional and there are two pretty gardens to sit in.
There is also a small (and rather eccentric) gift shop.
High Street, BN5 9DB
T: 01273 492064
Open: 9.30-5 Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon.
The Tea Rooms, Wiston
Children adore this Darling Buds of May-esque establishment at the foot of the South Downs. Ducks waddle about and locally grown produce and plants are for sale.
Enjoy a cream tea in the garden after, perhaps, walking down from Chanctonbury Ring, which towers above. Satnav: BN44 3D
T: 01903 892330
Open: 10.30-4.30 daily except Wed, wheelchair access.
Hiker’s Rest, Saddlescombe
A new tea stop on the footpath of the South Downs Way.
Everything is served from a portable building, but this is a charming place to enjoy a cream tea.
Tables cheered with fresh flowers sit within the 17th century walls of the National Trust’s Saddlescombe Farm.
Satnav: BN45 7DE
T: 01273 857712
W: southdownsway-hikersrest.com Open: 11-3 weekdays (closed Wed), 11-4 weekends.
Gorge yourself on scones in the booth of a gazebo before strolling about Nymans. View the house and gaze
dreamily at the romantic ruin, the rose garden and the views.
Satnav: RH17 6EB
T: 01444 405250
Open:10-5 daily (house 11-3 except Tues), wheelchair access.
Amberley Village Tea Room, Amberley
This is a nice pitstop after a walk along the river, over the fields of Amberley. A traditional tearoom, with a courtyard garden for fine weather. Everything is served on crockery made by the village potter.
Satnav: BN18 9SR
T: 01798 839196
Open: 10-5.30 (closed Wed), wheelchair access.
Swanbourne Lodge, Arundel
This tearoom is in the old lodge at the gateway of Arundel Park, beside the boating lake. You can stroll around the 1,000-acre park or hire a rowing boat for just £3.50 before enjoying a Swanbourne cream tea. Satnav: BN18 9PA
T: 01903 884293
Open: 9-5 daily, wheelchair access
A lovely waterside tearoom in the village of Bosham, near Chichester. Gaze out over the mud flats and the swans on the water, as you munch freshly-baked scones. Remember to move your car from the waters edge when the tide comes in!
Satnav: PO18 8LS
T: 01243 572960
Open: 10.30-late afternoon daily, wheelchair access
Moonlight Cottage, Cocking
A hop, a skip and a jump from the South Downs Way, this friendly establishment was once the village bakery. Today it is a relaxing tearoom and bed and breakfast. If it’s sunny, enjoy a delicious cream tea (made with fresh strawberries) in the garden.
Satnav: GU29 0HN
T: 01730 813336
Open: 10.30-5.30 Fri, Sat & sun, wheelchair access
The Pavilion, Stansted Park
Stansted Park is an Edwardian house and garden within 1,800 acres of woodland on the West Sussex – Hampshire border. Explore the craft workshops and lose yourself in the new maze before devouring a cream tea in the walled garden.
Satnav: PO9 6DX
T: 02392 413432,
Open: 9-4 weekdays, 9-5 weekends, wheelchair access