Devonshire Cream Tea – updated 2019
I love a cream tea and if time and money allowed I’d be out every week trying out all the best places for a cream tea in East Devon. All in the name of research of course. It turns out talking about cream teas is a very contentious subject!
There is endless debate over cream or jam first (please don’t stress, life is too short)! Even the origins of a cream tea are up for debate. Apparently the term Devonshire Cream tea is ranked with the Yorkshire Pudding and Cornish Pasty for it’s regional status. Well let’s not get into a debate. I really I don’t care what county I’m in, as long as the basic ingredients are all good. Quality jam, light scones and clotted cream – and yes, cows from any county can be persuaded to produce clotted cream!
Having done some research (it’s been tough!), I have put together some top Cream Tea spots in East Devon, largely based on recommendations. Now there is a lot of choice, so I have decided to include places that are all quite different. Then you can pick one depending on what sort of outing or experience you are looking for.
Being so close the Somerset and Dorset I couldn’t leave them out. So at the end of the post there’s another list (sorry I just don’t want to offend anyone!)!
Best Places for a Cream Tea in East Devon
I have thought hard about this relatively short list to allow you to choose where you go based on who are you taking and why you are going.
So whether you are celebrating a birthday or special occasion or just really love a Devonshire Cream Tea whatever day it is, then I hope you find this post useful. Let me know if you have enjoyed any of these suggestions or have others to add.
The Fairwater Head Hotel – Afternoon Tea in Style
If you are looking for a special celebration and fancy more than just a scone then this is the place for you. The Fairwater Head Hotel has undergone a transformation and now has a lovely new Laura Ashley Tea Room, a great place for a little more up market treat.
Set deep in the East Devon countryside near Axminster, this Edwardian country house hotel is a great escape. You can enjoy the full afternoon tea with a little fizz as well! Then take a stroll in the gardens and enjoy the stunning views over the Axe Valley. You might even find yourself planning a mini break at The Fairwater Head Hotel.
Seaton Tramway Cafe
This is a great option for a family afternoon outing that all ages will love. Join the tram at Seaton and take one of the traditional narrow gauge line trams along the Axe Estuary. It’s a lovely journey with birds to spot along the way, and it’s a dog friendly attraction. Look out for their dinosaur and fairy special trams as well the chance to drive one. (details on the Seaton Tramway website).
Stay on all the way to the Colyton terminus and get off there to enjoy a lovely cream tea or light lunch at The Tramstop Cafe. Hop back on when you are ready for the ride home.
Of course if you are happy just to spot the trams then you can also park at the Colyton end. Nearby is the quirky vintage and antiques centre “The Vintage Shed” which is great for a browse.
Combine a look round an historic working water mill with the chance to browse at locally produced gifts and crafts as well as regular art exhibitions and music events. At Otterton Mill there’s an onsite cafe and bakery and local food store so you can expect some great scones here!
Voted in the Sunday Times as one of the best places in the UK for afternoon tea – sounds like high praise.
Then if you are feeling ever so slightly guilty you can walk around the pretty village of Otterton or head off along the River Otter. Enjoy the route of this tranquil river and nature reserve as it flows out at Budleigh Salterton. It’s 2.5 miles to the sea along a well established flat path.
Otterton Mill is open all year, events and exhibitions change so do check the website for details.
Clock Tower Cafe – Sidmouth
This has been recommended to me and is a great choice by the sea with huge scones! The cafe is set in a Grade 11 listed building, perched over Jacob’s Ladder in the Connaught Gardens. With access to the beach at Sidmouth, this makes it a great location for a walk along the beach or to take the children for the day.
The Clock Tower Cafe is open all year so a good choice for a hot drink after a winter stroll as well.
Burrow Farm Gardens
On the edge of the Blackdown Hills close to the A35 this is a great spot. You can pay to look around the beautiful Burrow Farm Gardens, featured in numerous gardening magazines (a season ticket is available) or just use the tea room.
The gardens are a mixture of formal and natural areas with a small lake to walk around, azaleas and rhododendrons a blaze of colour in the spring. You can purchase plants from the nursery. They also host various outdoor theatre events in the summer.
The tearoom serves a selection of light lunches, homemade cakes and of course cream teas. Open from 1st April – 31st October.
Royal Oak Farm – Award Winning Quintessentially English Cream Tea
Royal Oak farm is under new ownership and not currently serving teas. Everyone local is hoping that the new owners will retain the great reputation for teas – watch this space for an update!
In the summer you can sit outside in the garden. Then there is the chance to do some fruit picking or browse the small farm shop as well.
Royal Oak Farm was one of the first places I wrote about for my blog – I think it’s about time I went back! It is near Stockland, just off the A30, about 6 miles from Honiton or 9 miles from Axminster.
I hope you enjoy my list and have a chance to enjoy a great cream tea very soon.
Here are some more places to discover!
Lucy’s Farmhouse Tea Room (great for kids)
Forde Abbey Gardens
The Potting Shed Cafe (Chard Garden Centre)
Bell Cliff Restaurant (Broad Street, Lyme Regis)
Courtyard Cafe (Town Mill, Lyme Regis)
Downhouse Farm (Eype)