One of the most enjoyable things about living in Dorset is exploring the beautiful countryside and dramatic coast – and ending your day with a Dorset cream tea. Here are a few of the best afternoon teas in Dorset, with suggestions of some places to visit which have easy access for the less mobile and those in wheelchairs.
1. Moreton Tea Rooms
Housed in the old school building and close to the perfect little church of St Nicholas, this is one of the country’s finest tea rooms, a multiple award winner, which offers delicious light lunches and wonderful teas. The cakes – made on the premises – are displayed on the bier on which the body of Lawrence of Arabia was carried. The funeral took place in the little church, which is also famous for the etched glass windows by Laurence Whistler, which replaced the original windows destroyed in a wartime blast.
TE Lawrence is buried just a couple of hundred yards from the tea-room in the little Moreton cemetery. And for those who enjoy a gentle walk around a beautiful garden, the walled garden at Moreton is a joy. It is wheelchair-friendly, and for the slightly more able, there are easy walks around this natural wild garden.
2. Beaton’s Tea Rooms
Beaton’s Tea Rooms in Blandford is also a bookshop. The cakes are great, the service is good – and you can sit and read without anyone making you feel you need to leave. What’s not to love! You can park in the Market Place and the cafe is just across the road in the old Greyhound building. It’s a short walk to Blandford’s handsome Georgian church, which is well worth a visit. In the other direction you can walk to the Stour water meadows, and watch Dorset’s famous river slowly flowing along. If you are lucky, you may even see an otter!
3. Worth Matravers Tea Rooms
Close to the famous Square and Compass Pub and the dramatic Jurassic coastline of the Isle of Purbeck, Worth Matravers was named as one of the 30 best tea rooms in the country in the Daily Telegraph in April 2017. Enjoy delicious cream teas served on pretty vintage china. Depending on your level of fitness, there are some fantastic walks in this area, not all of them involving rib-crunching hill climbs!
4. Clavells Café
Clavells Cafe at Kimmeridge, a few miles west along the Purbeck coast, is on the South West Coast Path, but you can take it easy and drive down to Kimmeridge Bay and watch the tide go out over the rocky shelves. If you feel up to it, climb down and take the grandchildren rock-pooling, and then return to the cafe for delicious cakes and tea.
You can also visit the new Etches Collection just over the road next to the village hall. This is a state-of-the-art fossil museum, housing the remarkable collection of self-taught paleontologist Steve Etches, who lives in the village.
5. Seaside Boarding House
Seaside Boarding House, further west along the coast at Burton Bradstock, has breathtaking views from Portland Bill to Start Point in south Devon. The teas are pretty good too.
6. The Three Wishes Afternoon Tea in Dorset
The Three Wishes in Cheap Street, Sherborne, is a traditional cafe and tea-room, which happens to be located in one of the most perfect towns in the country. Take a walk around Sherborne Abbey, built in the same beautiful golden stone as much of the town, and then relax with tea and cake at the cafe, which is owned by Nicky and Paul King who also have the lovely Eastbury Hotel just round the corner in Long Street.
7. Summer Lodge Hotel
Summer Lodge Hotel at Evershot is a treat – it’s a lovely country house hotel, with beautiful gardens, a mouthwatering kitchen garden, a spa, and a light and airy conservatory where you can enjoy a luxurious cream tea if the weather isn’t being kind. Evershot is an interesting village – just across Fore Street is The Acorn, a traditional village inn which features in Tess of the D’Urbervilles as The Sow and Acorn, which a fearful Tess trudges past on her way to Emminster (Beaminster) where she hopes to see Angel Clare’s disapproving parents.
Other places to enjoy an afternoon tea in Dorset
These are just a handful of the special places for afternoon tea in Dorset. There are many more, but not all have easy access or their own car parks. Some involve a steep climb from the car park and others are in wonderful old buildings, which can be awkward or impossible for the less mobile or those in wheelchairs.
Most National Trust properties have their own tea rooms – there’s a good one at Corfe Castle, but Corfe is often crowded and the car park is quite a walk from the castle and the tea-room.