By Andrea Fanning
From the moment you enter the English Rose, cares melt away as the word welcome becomes more than a greeting. It’s the feeling that completely surrounds you and continually warms your heart as you prepare for an afternoon of sheer delight.
Located in the pedestrian-friendly downtown area of Chattanooga, Tennessee—just minutes away from excellent outlet and antique shopping—this charming tearoom is housed inside a historic brick building that was once the Grand Hotel. But the hustle and bustle of guests moving about the busy lobby has long since faded away, replaced by the peaceful hum of friendly conversation and the soft clinking of teacups and saucers.
Sunlight pours through large windows, illuminating rows and rows of china, filling the room with a cheery glow. And this sense of merriment echoes in the bright smiles of the tearoom’s excellent staff.
“The majority of our staff is British,” says owner Angela Becksvoort, who is a native of the British colony Rhodesia—now Zimbabwe —and longtime resident of Surry. “But even more than that, we are all really good friends.” And it shows. The engaging environment, paired with the unmistakable British influence, is truly what makes this tearoom such a delight. It is also exactly the kind of place Angela wanted it to be.
“I wanted this to be a place where people could come to enjoy each other’s company,” she says. Though her background was in nursing, a pursuit that brought her to the United States, Angela found that opening a tearoom was more than just an idea she had tossed around; it was a way to combine her love for her homeland with her desire to care for others. She says, “I’d never done anything like this before, but I felt there was a place for it here in the South.
“I first decided it was important that we have Royal Doulton china. After that, I focused on gentle colors and some of the Victorian influence, but I didn’t stick to a specific time period,” says Angela. She also wanted to highlight the building’s grand heritage and architecture, she explains. “I didn’t want anything that would be stuffy or standoffish. It was really more about having something nice, with good china, good cutlery, and good linens. And most importantly, everything needed to be absolutely English.”
From the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to the lace table trimmings and fresh roses, the tearoom does indeed reflect all that Angela had envisioned. And that’s just the décor. “We stick to authentic British fare,” says Angela. “It’s what truly sets the English Rose apart.”
The authentic English menu ranges from traditional tea to pub-style offerings, such as crumpets and cottage pie. Both the afternoon tea and the Victorian tea are served throughout the day, and, along with a pot of tea, they include the choice of assorted finger sandwiches, English biscuits, and a scone served with Devon cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd. The Victorian tea also offers English cheeses with crackers, as well as a dessert. And there are many delicious delights to choose from, such as sherry trifle, sticky toffee pudding, and a tearoom favorite known as Eton Chaos.
For the English Rose, adding a taste of Britain to events and celebrations is another of their specialties. Angela says, “We host children’s tea parties, etiquette classes, and receptions. We’ve even had weddings here, small, intimate weddings where they get married on the stairs—just lovely. We celebrate British traditions and holidays, and at Christmas, we host a series of special teas.
“Both children and adults can enjoy themselves here. We have many groups with special needs who like to come here. Several of the staff members, like myself, have a background in nursing, and many of our ex-patients come here. We want people to feel comfortable, whatever their needs.” And not only comfortable, the former nurse adds, but healthy and happy as well. To that end, many of the menu offerings at the English Rose are, by design, health conscious. Angela’s Welsh loaf recipe, served with preserves at the tearoom, is not only fat-free, it mixes in minutes and is a wonderful way to make use of leftover tea.
The English Rose is located at 1401 Market Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Tearoom service is available Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the gift shop remains open until 6 p.m. Reservations are required for parties of six or more. Call 423-265-5900. For more information, visit englishrosetearoom.net.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication, the information listed above was correct. However, please be sure to verify this information before making plans to visit to ensure it has not changed.