Best gardens for tea

Nothing could be more British than tea in an English country garden.

Here is a selection of the National Gardens Scheme’s best tea gardens. For more details and this year’s opening times, see the NGS’s annual Yellow Book or visit

The Old Rectory, Manston, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 1EX
Enjoy Judith’s fine home-made teas and take a stroll round her beautifully restored 5 acre garden boasting a S-facing wall with 120ft herbaceous border edged by old brick path, an enclosed yew hedge flower garden, a wildflower meadow marked with mown paths and young plantation of mixed hardwoods.
Visitors welcome by arrangement May to September for groups of 4+.
Admission £4.50, children free.

5, St Regis Close, Alexandra Park Road, London, N10 2DE
Take your tea in a secluded alcove in this whimsical garden of colourful temples and glazed Chinese dragons. Susan Bennett offers a range of herbal teas, but is man (or woman) enough to wield a mighty stainless-steel teapot for the real thing.
Sunday 1 May, Sunday 19 June, Sunday 17 July (2 – 6.30pm).
Admission £3.50, children free.

Ty Glyn Walled Garden, Ciliau Aeron, Lampeter, Ceredigion, SA48 8DE
Secluded walled garden in beautiful woodland setting alongside R Aeron, developed specifically for special needs children. A terraced kitchen garden overlooks herbaceous borders, orchard and ponds with surprises amidst unusual shrubs and perennials.
Sunday 14 February (12 – 3pm), Sunday 17 July (1 – 5pm).
Admission £3.50, children free.

334, Belper Road, Stanley Common, Derbyshire, DE7 6FY
Is one kind of cake insufficient? Here, up to 20 different sorts are on offer. Work off tea with a walk around the woods and lake.
Sunday 24 April, Sunday 22 May, Sunday 5 June (12 – 5pm).
Admission £3.50, children free.

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Upper Chalford Farm, Sydenham, Oxfordshire, OX39 4NH
Tea in the garden ought always to be in a bower of roses, and this is the perfect place: a garden full of old-fashioned blooms. If it feels familiar, that could be because it was a location in the Midsomer Murders series.
Wednesday 25 May, Thursday 23 June, Thursday 7 July (4 – 7.30pm).
Admission £4.00, children free.

Hole Park, Rolvenden, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 4JB
Coffee-and-walnut cake, lemon sponge, chocolate brownies and bara brith are among the Sunday attractions that regularly draw visitors to the glorious 15 acres of gardens surrounded by parkland and fine views.
Sunday 10 April, Wednesday 4 May, Wednesday 15 June, Sunday 9 October (11am – 6pm). Admission £7.00, child £1.00.

Preen Manor, Church Preen, Shropshire, SY6 7LQ
A fascinating and large garden with modern leanings—provocative without being wacky.6-acre garden on site of Cluniac monastery and Norman Shaw mansion. Kitchen, chess, water and wild gardens.
Visitors welcome by arrangement May to July for groups of 10+. Not evenings or weekends.
Admission £6.00, children free. Tea Coffee/tea & biscuits £1.

Austwick Hall, Town Head Lane, Austwick, Settle, North Yorkshire, LA2 8BS
Set in the dramatic limestone scenery of the Dales, this garden boasts extensive drifts of common single and double snowdrops. Sculptures dotted along the trail add further interest and the home-made teas are delicious.
Wednesday 24 February (12 – 4pm).
Admission £4.00, children free.

Narborough Hall, Narborough, Norfolk, PE32 1TE
Yes, there are formal gardens, topiary, a walled garden, a park and a lake, but the focus here is sensuousness and flavour. Bits of every border find their way into the cakes (in the nicest sense): geranium leaves, rose petals, lemon verbena, and all picked that day.
Wednesday 8 June (11am – 5pm).
Admission £4.00, children free.

Stockton Bury Gardens, Kimbolton, Herefordshire, HR6 0HB
A garden of intimate spaces and delightful planting, with Leominster church as an eyecatcher at no extra charge. Tea on the terrace is the real thing.
Friday 1 April (12 – 5pm).
Admission £6.00, child £3.00. No children under 3. 

Clinton Lodge, Fletching, Sussex, TN22 3ST
Six acres of garden re-creating various period styles, from the 17th century to the present day. Tea is served in the lemonery. Look out for a splendid chocolate cake, which you can eat on a balustrade while you gaze at the park.
Sunday 24 April, Monday 13, Monday 27 June, Monday 8 August (2 – 5.30pm).
Admission £5.00, children free.

Moretonhampstead Gardens, Devon, TQ13 8PW
Two classic country gardens in one village, with fine views of Dartmoor. Tea is taken in the conservatory, naturally, if it rains. And, as it’s Devon, there are heavy-duty, clotted-cream teas (a good job the NGS gives so much of its money to medical charities).
Saturday 28, Sunday 29, Monday 30 May, Saturday 3, Sunday 4 September (2 – 6pm).
Combined admission £5.00, children free. Dogs on leads welcome.

** Read more on English country gardens