The Bell Tower Tea Rooms based in what was once home to the Vicar of the Close, are now open and offering a refined fayre with high teas in the grand English tradition. A breath of fresh air with its bay windows, hand printed wallpaper and fresh-as-a-daisy décor, the tea rooms offer a chance to retreat from the busy world for a moment and enjoy a cuppa and a fine view of the beautiful medieval building and its lovely Close.
High tea at The Bell Tower is an elegant affair served on old fashioned china at small tables reminiscent of the Edwardian front room. High Tea for Two with its cool as cucumber sandwiches, pretty pastries and heavenly homemade cakes costs just £20. Over summer, the tea rooms’ homemade juices and delicious New Forest Ice Creams made with fresh dairy cream are a welcome antidote to the warm weather
Kevin Oborne, catering manager said: “We wanted to offer a historic experience to our visitors with a modern twist – a perfect complement to a busy cathedral visit. Along with fresh ingredients and delicious loose leafed teas, there’s fine coffee and of course, the ever popular cream teas on the menu. The ambience of the new tearooms creates a sense of the past alongside clean modern lines, convenience and comfort.”
A key feature of the tea rooms is the fine china, redolent of Downton Abbey and 'upstairs' tea parties. Kevin and Cathedral Volunteers Co-ordinator Christine Keegan sourced all the china – not a matching set amongst them, declares Kevin with delight! Christine also made all the tearooms cake stands, putting a lifelong hobby to very practical use on behalf of the Cathedral.
Said Christine: “I’ve been collecting vintage china and related items for the last 20 years. I find that antique markets, charity shops and friends of friends a good source to find the type of vintage china I like, and wherever I am I will always keep an eye open for a bric-a-brac shop, home or abroad. Occasionally I do vintage fairs to make room for more! Last year after realising I had a lot of mismatched plates I decided to make some cake stands to add interest to two vintage stalls I had coming up, armed with the internet and advice from a local hardware stall I started to drill away! Luckily making very few mistakes but it did take time to carefully drill through each piece. A neighbour who was interested offered to help and between the two of us over a few days we soon had a production line going and created mad hatter stands as well as cake stands. Being able to help the new tea shop out with all things vintage has been a pleasure and now means I have enough room to carry on collecting!”
Alongside the tearooms, the Refectory Restaurant offers a complementary menu for visitors with homemade soup and hot lunches, afternoon tea - and plenty more besides. There’s a selection menu for younger children, with crayons and a Cathedral play trail. Opened in April 2000, this unique glass-roofed area provides a wonderful space in which to relax, meet up with friends and enjoy food and drink, with views of the spire soaring 123m (404 ft) above you.
Both the Refectory Restaurant and The Bell Tower Tea Rooms are for hire and make a stunning venues for private functions, corporate hospitality, wedding receptions, dinners and presentations. For all reservation enquiries contact Kevin Oborne, general manager, on 01722 55175 or k.oborne @salcath.co.uk
For any other enquiries contact Marie Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org 01722 555148