National Trust cafes get a makeover
PUBLISHED: 17:43 10 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:43 10 June 2013
The National Trust’s name has become synonymous with spectacular houses, glorious gardens and beautiful countryside. Yet for many, the opportunity to stop for a bite to eat or a drink during a visit is an equally important part of the experience. Emma Brien reports
With this in mind, we have been concentrating on improving and expanding four of our popular cafes in Surrey and London this year.
Anita Goodwin, Visitor Experience Consultant for the National Trust, says: “Our cafes form an integral part of the day out for our visitors and we felt it was important to express the spirit of the property in the ambience and new design of the cafés. The London Café project has refurbished the interiors of these four spaces to help tell the story of the people and places that used the buildings in the past and we hope this will provide a more enjoyable experience for all our visitors.”
Ben Duffy, Commercial Consultant for the National Trust, adds: “We hope that the pilot with our four London cafes will be the start of a journey that will transform more of our cafes to reflect what is happening on the High Street. To keep up with what visitors expect we will make sure that our London cafes have new seasonal menu items introduced throughout the year, more variety and more locally sourced produce.”
Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher
Claremont Landscape Garden was designed by some of the top names in gardening history and was once owned by royalty in the guise of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and his wife, Princess Charlotte. So it seems fitting that its tea-room should be developed to provide refreshments fit for a king or queen this summer.
The new tea-room design has taken inspiration from the gardeners who have shaped the renowned landscape garden - and those who continue to make sure it remains looking its very best today. The tea-room is set out like a gardener’s ‘bothy’, or shelter, and serves hot and cold drinks and snacks daily, with plenty of seating from where visitors can enjoy the delightful views.
It is also located close to the children’s play area and the entrance to the garden, making it an ideal stopping point, whether you have just arrived or are refuelling after a long walk or play session.
Ham House, Richmond-upon-Thames
The Orangery at Ham House was one of the first of its kind to appear in this country and was built for William Murray, a childhood friend of King Charles I. Today, it is the location of a newly refurbished cafe, with views over a well-stocked kitchen garden, where the fruit and vegetables grown by our gardeners is picked and used in seasonal dishes for the cafe.
Alongside its home-grown ingredients, The Orangery Cafe is honouring another of Ham House’s traditions by serving tea - a drink favoured by the Duchess of Lauderdale, who lived and died there in the seventeenth century. She was a woman of considerable political influence and was among the first courtiers of her time to make drinking tea fashionable.
Coffee is available too, of course, along with a good selection of light lunches, cold drinks and seasonal treats including ice creams and ice lollies.
Osterley Park and House, Isleworth
Just across the county border is Osterley Park and House - one of the last surviving country estates in London. Created to impress the aristocracy by architect and designer, Robert Adams, the magnificent house and grounds still delight visitors today.
The tearoom can be found in the former stables and the refurbishments have made the most of original features, such as feeding troughs and cobbled floor.
As well as summer treats to keep visitors cool, our new tearoom will serve light lunches, drinks and snacks throughout opening hours.
Sutton House, Hackney
Another National Trust gem close to the Surrey border, this former Tudor courtier’s home built in 1535 offers a welcome respite from the relentlessly hectic London life. Its attractive interiors, peaceful courtyard and fascinating history, which includes more recent use as a car breakers yard, are highlights not to be missed during a summer in the capital.
Sutton House’s cafe is situated inside the house, with its Georgian tea parlour design influenced by the diverse stories of the property’s long and varied history. Cream teas are very popular, as are our delicious cakes, coffees and house blends of tea.
Another popular attraction is Sutton House’s second hand bookshop, also located inside the main house. Visitors with time to spare can pick up something new to read and settle down to enjoy it in the cafe or courtyard over a cup of tea or coffee.
Log on to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast for more details of our cafes, houses and gardens, as well as our wide-ranging programme of summer events and activities.