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Let them eat cake! Outdoor afternoon teas

It's afternoon tea week - like we ever need an excuse for teeny sandwiches and cream-loaded scones....

Cream or jam first? Who cares?! As long as it’s served on porcelain, the sun’s out and the view is pretty, summer afternoon teas are our happy place. And if it’s in the glorious Wiltshire outdoors, even better.

Iford Manor cafe

New for 2021, this is such a great addition to the Wiltshire food scene. Head Chef Jaq’s cakes are already legendary, and regular readers will be aware of the unmissable frangipane tarts and carrot cake. Cream teas are also on offer, and they even have their own Iford blend teas (their Lavender Earl Grey is award-winning), which you might want to take home with you. You’ll love the terrace – it’s fancy enough for a special occasion, but let’s not just keep it for best heh? Life’s too short! For a super-duper day out, combine with a jaunt round the heavenly gardens. Teas served Weds – Sun & bank hols, 2-4pm.

Photo: William Cartwright-Hignett

Bishopstrow Hotel

This country house hotel outside Warminster, serves up a trad afternoon tea on a stunning al fresco terrace. Smoked salmon finger sarnies, cream scones and the option of, err, fries. Why not? We’ll give it a go!

Lucknam Park Hotel

Take tea like an aristo at this eighteenth century Palladian Manor, and walk it off in acres of unspoilt parkland. It’s all a bit extra, with options of dainty patisserie freshly prepared by the in-house pastry chef and Joseph Perrier champagne. Combine with shopping in Bath, or a turn around picturesque Castle Combe.

Stowford Manor Farm

Fancy something a bit more rustic? Well this down-to-earth place is less Brideshead and more Thomas Hardy, with mismatched china and hearty portions in a pretty little garden. Hosting a popular campsite and craft workshops, you’re unlikely to have the place to yourself. It’s a good option for kids – there’s the Farleigh Hungerford river swimming club with rope swing the other side of the field.

Bird & Carter Cafe, Fonthill

Everything here, especially the home-made cakes, is top quality, and there is a massive tented area in which to scoff them, whatever the weather. Should the sun shine, get a takeaway and sit by the little stream at the bottom of the garden.

Beechfield House Hotel

This West Wilts country house hotel, not far from Bath & Melksham, is family and dog-friendly and has a large, relaxed terrace – perfect for summer afternoon teas. Homemade patisserie? Fizz? We can’t think of a good reason why not.

Woolley Grange Hotel

Woolley pride themselves on not just tolerating kids, but designing around them. The adorable Wind in the Willows themed tea will keep the little ones both fed and entertained, while you indulge in the full afternoon tea, natch. There are several seating options here, including an elegant terrace with sunshades. The newer Hideout in the glamping field – an indoor-outdoor option – is perfect for when the weather looks a bit iffy (most of the time then), or when sugar-fulled kids need to let loose with the handy hula-hoops and croquet set.

The Hideout

The Old Bell Hotel

The oldest hotel in England, no less, has had a funky refurb. When you’re done cooing over the new wallpaper, relax in the garden of this Malmesbury beauty with a fancy tea. Go trad with buttermilk scones, or go off-piste with homemade sausage & cheese roll, slow-cooked brisket slider and gooseberry & whisky fool. You’ll want to work up an appetite at the amazing Abbey House Gardens nearby.

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