In my starving student days, this was a big treat, yet it was just across the road from the Jodrell Gate, taunting me with its bakery goods. Christopher was fond of the pastries called Maids of Honour. In hindsight, they are obviously Portuguese tarts, but since they were expensive little treats, I rarely had them. Plus, I’d forgotten all about those chinese dan tart, which were essentially the same thing. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Now, being gainfully employed, I can afford to eat here, so after the long day traipsing through the Botanic Gardens, we came here for high tea, which is much like a cream tea, but includes some savory by way of little sandwiches. There’s a choice of sandwiches: cheese, salmon, and ham, and we opted to have a selection of all of them. There’s also a choice of the pastry, with an array to choose from at the bakery counter, but we opted for the Maid of Honours. For old times sake.
This bakery has been around since the days of Henry VIII, who lived just a hop over in Richmond at Hampton Court. This building housed his maids of honour and apparently he was also gahgah over these tarts. ahem.
Maids of Honour
If Shakespeare were around today, he would be protesting – eloquently – to the council at all these commercial businesses overrunning the quiet residential neighborhood his home was once in. Then again, these businesses wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for him. So nevermind, I guess.
The childhood home of William Shakespeare is now in the center of a bustling tourist street lined with souvenier shops and tea rooms. Did someone say cream tea?
I go cuckoo for cream teas and Devonshire clotted cream seems very readily available now, so you can have a good one in just about any town, including Stratford which is nowhere near Devon. The Henley Street Tea Room is about 50 feet away from Shakespeare’s house, as my second photo at the top of this page shows from my seat at the Tea Room. While there were many places to choose from, and most offered a cream tea for about £4, this tea room specifically baked their scones on site, and also didn’t appear to be a chain.
The tea is freshly brewed, loose in the pot, so the service comes with a little strainer to place atop your teacup. After pouring the tea, milk and maybe sugar is added. Not before! That’s how it’s done, sir.
The scones are served warm, dressed with a little strawberry and powdered sugar. They’re also very generous with the cream and jam. It’s so good! Slather on as much as you can onto that scone, clotted cream is not to be wasted. The cream tea, including tea, scones, cream and jam was £3.95.
Henley Street Tea Room