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Sunnycroft’s Tea Room Through the Ages

June 11, 2014
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Entering through the veranda, you hear 1940’s music being played, a counter in front of you full of tempting cakes and treats. A menu filled with a delightful choice of drinks, snacks and light lunches. You sit down and are greeted with embroidered tablecloths on each table, a beautiful view onto the lawn and rose garden. You tuck into your delights from china cups and saucers, plates and teapots. This is your chance to relax and unwind: You’ve entered Sunnycroft’s tea room.

In 2004, catering came to Sunnycroft for the first time! Volunteers opened up an outdoor kiosk, located by the back door open Sundays and Mondays 2-5pm to raise income to pay for the upkeep of Sunnycroft. We served tea, coffee, hot chocolate all in takeaway cups. All we had was a fridge to hold milk, juice cartons and cans of drink. For a sweet tooth, we had individually wrapped cakes and biscuits.

After much deliberation the old smoke room was turned into Sunnycroft’s unique Tea Room in 2006 by Graham Rogers from Attingham Park.

Sunnycroft ground floor plan

Sunnycroft ground floor plan

This room has had many uses over the years. Originally designed as a drawing room for John George Wrackrill and his family it became Mary Jane Slaney’s morning room following her remodelling of the house. When Thomas Offley Lander bought the house he used it as an informal sitting/tv room which became known as the smoke room.

Thomas Offley in Smoke Room

Offley Lander in Smoke Room

When Offley became ill it was used as his bedroom, then by Joan Lander, his daughter as her morning room. When the National Trust began to care for the house it slowly started to develop to the tea room we know today.

Volunteer Anna serving from a wallpaper trestle table circa 2006

Volunteer Anna serving from a wallpaper trestle table circa 2006

The Welsh dresser that was left by the last owner Joan Lander was used to display the china teacups and teapots and a wallpaper table with a tablecloth was used to serve the cakes.

The Welsh dresser circa 2006

The Welsh dresser circa 2006

There was a small cool box to hold milk and juice cartons and the boiler from the kiosk was brought in and used to make teas and coffees. Volunteers had to run to and from the kitchen with jugs of water to keep topping up the boiler! The cakes were made by Mrs Dixon who lived at Home Farm at Attingham.

At this time Fridays were also added to Sunnycroft’s open days. Washing up was all done by hand in the scullery inside the house and the sales were done by hand using a calculator and some paper! Usually there was only one person in the tea room each day and takings reached to about £30 a day. Cups of tea and coffee were served in china tea cups with saucers, with top ups from large teapots on the counter.

Tea room volunteers receiving Marsh Heritage Volunteering Award

Tea room volunteers receiving Marsh Heritage Volunteering Award

In 2008 Sunnycroft’s tea room was entered into the Marsh Heritage Volunteering Award. We came in 2nd place and won £500 towards the tea room! With this generous prize plumbing was fitted into the tea room and the boiler arrived so serving hot drinks became a lot easier!

Volunteer Sandra and Custodian Sonia Batten in 2008

Volunteer Sandra and Custodian Sonia Batten in 2008

We set up Handmade in Ludlow as our main cake supplier, which is where we still buy our delicious cakes from. A coffee machine was also added to make pure filter coffee served in a mug and saucer. The extra opening days of Friday and Saturday meant that more volunteers were needed; it now took 3 or 4 a day to run!

Tea room volunteers raising a tea-cup in 2008

Tea room volunteers raising a tea-cup in 2008

2012 introduced a member of staff in the Tea Room with the volunteers on all 4 days of opening. This was to help with the progression of the tea room, as our offer was increased, selling soup and homemade sandwiches. In the April we also gained a new till to make sales a lot easier!

Teapots were brought in for customers to serve themselves, rather than being poured straight into their individual cups.

Sunnycroft Tea room in 2011

Sunnycroft Tea room in 2011

Following feedback from visitors in 2013 we set up a new supplier, Cariad Cakes, to provide us with lovely gluten free cakes. Now in 2014 we are always looking to increase our offer as much as we can for our customers and making their day out as special as can be.

Looking back at the development of Sunnycroft’s Tea Room, it’s clear to see how far we’ve come over 10 years! The tea room is our main source of income in funding conservation projects at Sunnycroft and in the past years customers have helped raise funds to repair the wallpaper in the house and install environmental monitoring which helps us protect the contents. Volunteers continue to be instrumental in running the tea room and the homely atmosphere along with the china cups, jugs, teapots and period music playing, continue to keep the spirit of Sunnycroft alive.

We set up Handmade in Ludlow as our main cake supplier, which is where we still buy our delicious cakes from. A coffee machine was also added to make pure filter coffee served in a mug and saucer. The extra opening days of Friday and Saturday meant that more volunteers were needed; it now took 3 or 4 a day to run!

 

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