Text and Photography by Annie Meadows
The delights of afternoon tea are memorable enough, but when enjoyed in the quaint village of Near Sawrey in the Lake District of northern England, something magical happens. One travels back to a genteel time of charm and grace, tradition and warmth. For me, it evokes my first memory of teatime. When I was a wee girl, my mother purchased my first tea table with matching chairs and a small teapot and cups, allowing me to pretend I was a grand English manor lady attending to my friends with my perfectly appointed table. So when I found myself in Near Sawrey taking tea in a humble cottage, the grandeur was the same, if only in my mind. Yes, I have taken tea in the likes of The Ritz London and beyond, yet there was something unique about this unassuming situation.
Near Sawrey, which dates to the 14th century, is located in Cumbria between Hawkshead and Windermere Lake. Nestled in the emerald green hills that are dotted with an abundance of Herdwick sheep, you will find the enchanting Belle Green cottage. This lovely bed-and-breakfast is also the home of proprietors Ann and Steve Crabtree and is the ideal place to enjoy a superb room with a view, a hot breakfast, a warm welcome, and a cordial afternoon teatime. With its low ceiling and plaster walls, the atmosphere of the downstairs parlor reminded me that I was in a cottage built in the 17th century. The antique furniture was beautiful, and the tea table was large and adorned with a pretty tablecloth. I was thrilled to receive moist buttery English crumpets with ample slices of Cheddar cheese, warm homemade scones with strawberry jam (also made in-house), and a perfectly brewed pot of English Breakfast tea, served piping hot. Ann and Steve were kind and attentive hosts.