Down to a tea

When par­tak­ing of a pip­ing-hot cup of tea and a crum­blingly de­li­cious slice of cake, where bet­ter to in­dulge than in the Cotswolds? Kevin Pil­ley takes a tour of the re­gion’s finest teashops

Country Life Every Week - - My Week - Pho­to­graphs by Mark Wil­liamson

TAK­ING af­ter­noon tea is a very Bri­tish art­form—some would even call it a rit­ual. There is a def­i­nite eti­quette to pro­ceed­ings and, at Aunt Martha’s tea­room in Dry­brook, Glouces­ter­shire, there are small tomes on the ta­bles in­struct­ing cus­tomers on their be­hav­iour: ‘Of para­mount im­por­tance, one must en­sure that your host­ess re­mem­bers your at­ten­dance be­cause of your repar­tee and not be­cause of the stains you left on the table­cloth.’

It isn’t only the big­ger pic­ture that’s of con­cern at Aunt Martha’s ei­ther: ‘First and fore­most never hold your teacup with your lit­tle fin­ger ex­tended. This is im­proper. The bot­tom of the han­dle should rest on your third fin­ger.’ The card fur­ther coun­sels adding milk first to save the bone china and al­ways tak­ing the cup to the pot, not the pot to the cup. You must stir sound­lessly. And never swirl. Or slosh.

When per­form­ing such a rit­ual, set­ting is ev­ery­thing and the staff at this Forestof-dean es­tab­lish­ment take their role very se­ri­ously in­deed. The mo­ment you step through the door, you’re trans­ported back in time to 1897, the year of Queen Vic­to­ria’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee, and greeted by pro­pri­etress Mrs Martha Tre­herne and her work­ers in

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