Monday 22 August 2016

Afternoon Tea at The Ickworth, Suffolk

Afternoon tea is somewhat of a favourite past-time of mine - it fulfills my inner Marie Antoinette: pretty cakes, beautiful surroundings and oodles of tea. My best-loved versions are themed; the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych in Covent Garden is perfect for chocolate lovers, while the Mad Hatter's tea at Sanderson is a whimsical dream (find more themed afternoon teas here). However, a simple afternoon tea is sometimes the best kind, with less showboating, more finesse.

The Ickworth, in west Suffolk's countryside, is a Georgian Italianate palace maintained by the National Trust. It features a restored servant's basement, walled garden, and a magnificently airy conservatory where you can enjoy afternoon tea looking out over the stunning grounds. I would recommend this place on views alone - especially when it's sunny.

I came here with my mum and sister for a girls' day out; we already had a table booked, which I secured about a week in advance. The conservatory wasn't busy, which contributed to a relaxing atmosphere. 

Taking place between 3pm and 5pm daily, the afternoon tea consists of the standard selection of crustless finger sandwiches, crisp-on-the-outside soft-on-the-inside scones with jam and clotted cream, and an adorable selection of cakes including meringue sandwiches, mini mousse ice creams and iced layer cakes. Enjoyable, simplistic and nothing out of the ordinary. This is complimented by a decent selection of teas - I had rooibos, followed by Earl Grey.

At £21.50 per person, I'm sad to say that I expected a little more than I got. The service was polite and available when needed, but we weren't taken through what was on our afternoon tea stands before we began, and were not offered more tea once it looked like we'd finished what we had. I would say that these are niggly little points, but it just makes afternoon tea that little bit more special when the hosts get it exactly right.

I might come here again just for the gorgeous aesthetic (everything is so pretty and white!), but it may be a while. I'd rather go somewhere new, than revisit.

Overall rating: 3.5/5


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