From the best cucumber sandwiches to the daintiest cakes, we’ve picked some of the most charming spots in the Cotswolds for the most British of pastimes
Afternoon tea originated in the Victorian era as a way of filling the long wait between lunch and dinner (supposedly by Anna Maria Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and a close friend of Queen Victoria). Custom dictates that it includes finger sandwiches (with staple fillings such as cucumber, coronation chicken, and smoked salmon and cream cheese), scones, cakes and – of course – a pot of our national drink: tea.
Tisanes Tea Rooms in the pretty village of Broadway, Worcestershire, is housed in a 17th-century stone building that is every bit as charming inside as its exterior suggests. It’s a small but popular spot, with a charming garden. Tea and cakes served from 10am-5pm
Huffkins is housed in a 17th-century building in Stow-on-the-Wold. It might even have been here when the Cavaliers surrendered to the Roundheads in the town’s market square in the final battle of the English Civil War, in 1646. Today the market town is more sedate – all antiques shops, art galleries and fabulous Cotswolds views from its position high above the ancient Fosse Way. Open Mon to Sat 8.30am-5pm; Sun 10am-5pm
Barnsley House is in a beautiful Tudor manor house near Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. Afternoon tea is served in the Potager restaurant, with views over the gorgeous gardens. Sandwiches includes cucumber, alongside ham and mustard, plus the posh-sounding Arlington White egg mayonnaise, and Severn & Wye smoked salmon. Afternoon tea is served from 3pm-5pm
At The Kitchen, in the town of Minchinhampton, four miles south of Stroud in Gloucestershire, you can choose between classic, traditional and vintage afternoon tea. The last one comes in china cups and the table is dressed for the occasion with fresh linen and flowers. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3pm-5pm.
The Methuen Arms stands on the site of an older Tudor building just outside Corsham Court and has been an inn since at least the 18th century. The restaurant with rooms is set in a grand Georgian house and serves an elegant afternoon tea using local ingredients. Afternoon tea is served between 3pm and 5pm
At Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa, you can enjoy tea in an 18th-century country house hotel on the outskirts of Malmesbury. Tea can be taken in one of the refined dining areas, or on the lawn in summer, from where you can admire the ivy and wisteria around the mullioned windows. Afternoon tea is served 3pm-5.30pm Mon to Fri; 3pm-4.30pm Sat & Sun
The Palladian mansion of the Lucknam Park Hotel is just six miles from the centre of Bath and is set in 500 acres of Wiltshire countryside. You can take tea in the delightful drawing room, in the library or on the terrace. Available Mon to Sat 2.30pm-5pm; Sun 3pm-5pm