In 1840 the Duchess of Bedford shared her guilty secret of enjoying tea and snacks a few hours before dinner, not knowing at the time that it would start a trend that would one day evolve to become a national tradition that enjoys celebratory status. However, as life has moved on, afternoon teas are now not just for special occasions but a great opportunity any day to enjoy with loved ones. Flutes of bubbly, pretty pastries, scones with clotted cream and carefully cut finger sandwiches are just the best way to enjoy an afternoon.
Visit Swindon have sat down to countless cups of tea, to bring you our reviews of the best afternoon tea in the area – from the traditional spreads to the modern interpretations that roll on into evening drinks.
Best for: Tea connoisseurs
Set in a 18th-century manor with 12 acres of stunning gardens situated in Malmsbury. Afternoon tea here is hosted in the manor's scenic garden room. The manor offers a traditional version of delicious savouries, classic finger sandwiches, scones and an elegant selection of cakes and sweet treats.
They also have an extensive tea menu to complement your experience.
Jacks Old Town
Best for: Drinks that keep on flowing
Jacks provides everything you could want from an afternoon tea, but with the bonus of bottomless prosecco or gin if you are feeling in the mood to carry on and explore the local night spots. Jacks is located right by many trendy bars so it’s a great base to check out more of what is around.
Best for: Lakeside views
Enjoy afternoon tea at the wonderful Stanton House and enjoy their sprawling lawns, patio areas, enchanting conservatory and a great menu choice. Whether you choose to go for celebratory tea with bubbles, cream tea for the smaller appetite or go all out with their full afternoon tea you can be assured it will be a good day out.
Buscot Tea room
Best for: A cute village feel
Situated in charming Buscot, a small, picturesque village with a lovely weir and lock. The Buscot tea room has a glorious garden filled with flowers, is dog friendly and has a cream tea menu complete with locally sourced ingredients, making it extra special.
Best for: A quintessential English experience
The Polly Tearooms has been ranked 15th in The Sunday Telegraph's top 30 places in the UK for afternoon tea and the number one place to go in the South West and if you visit you will quickly see why, with its ‘Bridgerton-esque’ interior and plump and moreish scones, Polly Tea Rooms afternoon tea is one of the best you will find.
Best for: Variety and style
The award-winning country house hotel is set in the stunning Marlborough Downs and offers a variety of different afternoon teas and stunning views, so try High Tea, Champagne Tea or Hendricks Gin Tea and let us know what your favourite is.
Best for: Tea followed by a spot of shopping
The well-known Patisserie Valerie is in Swindon’s Designer Outlet and serves afternoon teas that come with a pot of freshly brewed tea, scones and jam, mini raspberry eclairs, praline tarts and an array of sponge cakes and tarts. Once you have recharged you can explore the designer brands and fashion in this popular Outlet mall.