Indulge in a Suffolk-style afternoon tea

Vintage Holidays

Posted by Kate W on 24th September 2018

Remember the good ol’ days and the slower pace of life? Me neither. Yet somehow afternoon tea always creates a feeling of nostalgia for times gone by. It’s an old favourite, as traditional as fish & chips or a classic English fry-up.

The quaint custom of afternoon tea has lasted the test of time and the meal is now being served in the finest big-city establishments, in village cafes and at rural hilltop fayres. This custom is so entrenched in British life that it has given rise to the South West’s pride and joy: the cream tea.

As might be expected, we have an aristocrat to thank for this delicious dinnertime treat. Duchess Anna Russell, a lifelong friend to Queen Victoria, always enjoyed dinner fashionably late at 8pm but found that those long afternoons gave her what she complained of as ‘that sinking feeling’. In order to overcome it she took to having a cup of a tea and a snack in her bedchambers during the mid-afternoon. She soon introduced friends to this ritual and it took off among hostesses as a fashionable way to socialise.

Afternoon tea

These days the quintessential afternoon tea is made up of dainty finger sandwiches and tea brewed to perfection in a teapot. Everyone makes it slightly differently so on your holiday to Suffolk try out the tearooms below and let us know what you think!

Sailing Barge Victor, Ipswich

Known for inspiring its great namesake, George Orwell, the River Orwell is a startling place to set sail and spectacular way to enjoy a delightful afternoon tea. Birdwatching schedules are provided and there’s the chance to hire the entire ship for your special event.

The Swan, Southwold

Home of Adnams, one of the oldest breweries in England, The Swan is colourfully kitted out with antique furniture and pastel walls. Afternoon tea takes place in the drawing room of this hotel, where you can cosy up around a blazing fire. Afterwards, take a walk down Southwold Beach to the pier where you can try your luck in the arcades and see the eccentric Under the Pier Show.

Hintlesham Hall, Ipswich 

For a touch of class, try the high tea at Hintlesham Hall on the outskirts of Ipswich. Get dressed up for dining at this gentile venue, and there is a spa and golf club on-site if you’re looking for an additional extra.

Nancy’s Tea Shop, Newmarket 

In the north of Suffolk, you’ll discover Nancy’s Vintage Teashop. It’s pretty and pink, with chandeliers hanging down and pastel decoration. This delightful eatery is on the high street of Newmarket, a town that is home to a spa, tennis club and leisure centre and famous for its horse racing heritage, so there’s plenty of ways to work off those sweets treats.

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Applaud Coffee, Ipswich 

Started by two sisters, this stunning little delicatessen bakes cakes and scones fresh each day and there’s a gorgeous courtyard garden for dining on warm days. It’s in the centre of Ipswich so stop off at this cafe for a snack amidst shopping and exploring the bustling town.

Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Leavenheath 

This hotel is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the owners have taken full advantage of their stunning surroundings with the Gallery Restaurant where you’re welcome to dine while taking in panoramic views of Constable Country. Stoke by Nayland offers unique experiences that you can buy as a gift including the option of a gin & tonic afternoon tea!

The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds 

A contemporary vine-covered boutique hotel, this venue offers wine nights as well as a luxury afternoon tea option. Settle down on cosy sofas set around a coffee table and you can dine on scones and cupcakes while a fire crackles in the centre of the room. The perfect place to while away a few hours during those dark autumn/winter months.

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The Barn Café, Ipswich 

Proudly using locally-sourced ingredients, this café is located on their Alder Carr Farm meaning plenty of the fruit and veg is completely homegrown. Before snacking on scones and finger sandwiches you could go on a tour of their working farm and meet the animals. Bespoke hampers are sold on-site so you before you go you can have one made for you or select a few goodies and make it yourself.

Ufford Park Woodbridge, Woodbridge

Take the kids for a scrumptious afternoon tea as they have created a menu for adults and a special second menu catering to children. Dine on sweet treats while snuggled up in The Aldous Lounge or sit and gaze out over the golf course from the large terrace of the Park Bar.

Bannatyne, Bury St Edmunds

Famed for its Dragon’s Den-star entrepreneurial founder and part of a famous branded chain, this spa affords you a place to relax and get pampered before enjoying your tea. Treat yourself to a day at the spa where you can swim a few lengths in the pool and try out the hot loungers.

Milsom, Ipswich 

Enjoy your afternoon tea in the lounge or outside on the sheltered patio with views across the grounds of Milsoms Kesgrave Hall. It’s a wonderfully relaxed area and there’s even a large lawn area for kids to run about and blow off steam.

Ravenwood Hall, Bury St Edmunds 

Take your meal while outside on the patio and you can dine beneath grapevines while overlooking the pool, how very English! This old estate is set in lovely grounds and again there is a large flat lawn area where kids can run about after scoffing down a delicious afternoon treat. 

The Clockhouse, Southwold Pier 

As it sits on Southwold Pier you can enjoy your meal while overlooking the ocean, it’s in an incredible setting. The pier itself has plenty of great activities to get involved with including an arcade, Under the Pier Show and an eccentric water clock that was originally installed as a feature about water recycling and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. It’s great fun for kids and perfect for families after an entertaining day out.

The Tally Ho Tearooms, Mettingham 

As you might have guessed, they specialise in afternoon teas and have a delightful selection for visitors to choose from. They have cream teas, sovereign teas and can cater for romantic couples or parties. This tearoom is up near the Norfolk boundary in the stunning Suffolk Broads, so you could spend the rest of the afternoon walking the area or hire a boat and go sailing along the river.

There’s always time for tea

When you begin to feel ‘that sinking feeling’ complained of by the Duchess Anna Russell, mimic that fashionable Victorian aristocrat by heading out for a light snack.

The tearooms of Suffolk have captured that very British feeling with delicate and fanciful options for anyone in need of a peaceful afternoon of dining and relaxing. Whether you prefer to take your tea outside on the lawn or curled up around a log fire, find the perfect choice from this selection.

For a longer break, spoil yourself with a stay in one of our cottages. We have stylish holiday homes and quaint cottages throughout the region, so you can drop by one of these tearooms on your travels.

Get inspired by browsing our collection of cottages in Suffolk.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.