Bridge Tea Rooms
Taking Tea in Victorian Times
Step inside The Bridge Tea Rooms and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve passed straight through a time portal. Based in an old cottage dating back to 1502, in the historic town of Bradford-on-Avon, the teashop is decorated throughout as if it is unchanged since Victorian times.
With stone walls, dark wood panelling, formal portraits on the walls, and chamber music adding to the old-fashioned ambiance, the setting is rounded off perfectly with the waiting staff dressed in traditional Victorian costume.
If walls could talk
The cottage has a long history. Originally built as one storey, it had a second level added in 1675. It’s been the home and workshop of a tailor, and then the local blacksmith who ran his business from the forge next door. After being used as an antique shop for a while, it eventually became a tearoom in 1989. Roy and Alison Hayward took over as owners of The Bridge Tea Rooms seven years ago after the previous couple retired.
“When you think of the history this building has seen,” said Alison,” it’s amazing. If only walls could talk.”
Is there anybody there?
With such an interesting past, we had to ask if the place is haunted. And it seems it may be. Alison told us how some years ago a customer who was a medium said they could ‘sense a presence’, albeit one with a happy feel to it. Other customers have mentioned seeing a figure of a woman out of the corner of their eyes, dressed in crinoline and rushing around busily.
Roy and Alison have been contacted by paranormal investigators who are visiting during an evening this summer to carry out a series of tests in the hope of establishing if there really is a spirit in residence.
The idea for the Victorian theme at The Bridge Tea Rooms was introduced by the previous owners, in keeping with the history of tearooms which began in 18th century Britain. In a time of strict moral standards, tearooms provided one of the first places where women of the Victorian era could take a drink without a male escort and not risk their reputations.
Today, The Bridge Tea Rooms welcomes many different customers from all over the world. Situated only eight miles from the spa city of Bath, and Bradford-on-Avon itself a popular tourist destination, the business is a regular stop for coach parties.
“We meet a lot of overseas visitors,” said Alison. “They are looking for the quintessential English tea rooms, and you don’t get much more traditional than this.”
Take a visit to Tea Rooms and you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea. With over 35 different types of tea, all of the fine leaf variety of course, there are plenty to choose from, including one of the only two varieties which are grown here in the UK - Tregothnan Estate Tea from Cornwall.
Drinks are served in delicate bone china on tables decorated with white lace cloths. There is also a fabulous range of home-made cakes displayed on the wooden Victorian dresser, beautifully set out on traditional tiered cake stands.
Top tea award
In 2009, The Bridge Tea Rooms was announced as a winner of the Top Tea Place Award after it gained a near perfect score from The Tea Guild’s anonymous inspectors. Their comments included being ‘hugely impressed with the exceptional tea expertise and the warm charm of the staff.’
Take a peek back to Victorian Britain with their Business View tour below. You’ll find The Bridge Tea Rooms at 24a Bridge Street, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1BY. Tel: 01225 865537. Email queryatthebridgeatbradford.co.uk. They’re also on the web at www.thebridgeatbradford.co.uk
and you can look them up on Facebook by searching for
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Date: 22 May 2014
Author: The 360 Company