Since the 18th century the United Kingdom has been the largest tea consumer in the world, with each person consuming on average 2.5 kg per year. Tea, which was originally an upper-class drink in Europe has become somewhat of a tradition of every class, wether it’s a row of builders stopping at the side of the road for a ‘brew’ or a bunch of well-to-do ladies taking in High Tea, drinking tea has become an integral part of everyday life in Great Britain.
As tea increased in popularity in the United Kingdom during the 19th century, people started to lay out tea gardens and hold tea dances. Nowadays much of the time, tea drinking is not the delicate, refined cultural expression that some might imagine, a cup of tea is something drunk often, similar to how our American friends drink coffee, with some people drinking six or more cups of tea a day. Employers in the United Kingdom generally allow breaks for tea. I’d be the first to admit I enjoy a good cup of tea, can you tell by my face? today I’d like to pay homage to the well-established British tradition of drinking tea by recommending 5 fabulous places to enjoy a ‘cuppa’ in and around Manchester.1. Ordsall Hall: Regular readers will remember my previous post about Ordsall Hall. Ordsall Hall is a short walk down the River Irwell just outside of Manchester’s city centre. Ordsall Hall has a very colourful past, originally the home to generations of the Radclyffe family, since its sale by the Radclyffes in 1662 the hall has been put to many uses as a working men’s club, a school for clergy, and a radio station amongst them there are even rumours that the Hall was used by Guy Fawkes during the time of the gun powder plots. I always feel very much at home and very inspired roaming around these large stately homes. What better way to spend an afternoon than sitting down to a slice of Victoria sponge cake and a pot of tea with your Dad? Walk around the Hall, settle down in the cafe for tea and cake, enjoy the perfectly decadent surroundings. The cafe has a great selection of homemade cakes and you can be happy in knowing your money is funding the upkeep of such a historically significant building.
2. Dunham Massey: Dunham Massey Park, formerly the home of the last Earl of Stamford and owned by the National Trust since 1976. The Georgian hall, with the remains of a castle in its grounds, is a personal favourite. The manor of Dunham is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086!! Parking is free, it’s a short drive from Manchester city centre. Dunham Massey has a large garden, a wealth of history, incredible interiors and deer park perfect for a brisk walk before heading to the cafe for a cuppa and bite to eat.
3. The Town Hall: Slap bang in the heart of Manchester City Centre is the impressive Victorian, Neo-Gothic Town Hall. BBC Art Historian Dan Cruickshank described the Town Hall as “arguably the greatest Gothic Revival public building anywhere in the world. It remains a glorious confection – functionally organised yet rich in inventive Gothic detail” Built in 1877 the Town Hall is located at Albert Square and offers a welcome oasis of style, ostentatious interior design and a cracking little tea room. The ideal spot for afternoon tea, the large windows and city centre location also offers great people watching opportunities. Have a cup of tea and watch the world go by..
4. The Wharf: Situated at the side of the canal in historic Castlefield is The Wharf pub. Castlefield is an inner city conservation area of Manchester in the North of England, home to the world’s first industrial canal built in 1764, plenty of cobbled tow paths, a Roman ruin, waterway locks, geese, picture perfect barges as well as several bars and restaurants. Castlefield was the site of the Roman era fort of Mancunium which first gave its name to Manchester! The Wharf (in my humble opinion) is one of Manchester’s best new bar/ restaurants to open in recent years. There’s nothing greater than sitting with a pot of Earl Grey at The Wharf, watching the barges sail past along the canal. The food menu at The Wharf is every bit as impressive as the local history with an array of traditional British dishes served in a timely fashion to a very high quality. Main courses approx £10.
5. The Midland Hotel: Built in 1903 The Midland is a 400bedroom, Edwardian- Baroque style grand hotel located in Manchester city centre. In 1908 The Railway News described The Midland as a “Twentieth century palace” The Midland was where Charles Stewart Rolls met Frederick Henry Royce leading to the formation of Rolls-Royce Limited in 1904. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother dined in the hotel’s Trafford Restaurant in November 1959 after attending a Royal Variety Performance at the Palace Theatre, the first time a crowned head had dined in a public restaurant.The Beatles were famously refused access to the French Restaurant for being “inappropriately dressed”. The Midland is undeniably a more lavish venue to enjoy high-tea but could be an ideal place to take your ol’ Mum for Mother’s Day.
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James
The Fabulous Times