The Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester
The Orchard Tea Garden is in the small village of Grantchester, on the outskirts of Cambridge. The village was made famous by Rupert Brooke in his poem, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, and it has been a popular destination for poetry lovers ever since.
I have visited Cambridge many times and made my first trip to the Orchard in 2009. Yes, there is honey still for tea, as well as delicious sandwiches and cakes. After tea you can take a look in the little Rupert Brooke Museum or wander around the corner and take a look at the Old Vicarage itself (from a distance, as it is not open to visitors and is currently the home of Jeffrey Archer).
History of The Orchard
The Orchard has been serving tea for more than 100 years. It was a popular destination for Cambridge students, and became an important literary meeting place after Rupert Brooke moved to Grantchester. He became a lodger at the Orchard in 1909 and many of his set, dubbed the neo-pagans, would visit him there and take tea.
The Orchard has strong Bloomsbury connections thanks to Brooke's literary friendships. It has also been visited by many other well-known names, including poets, writers, actors, philosophers and scientists. The following list of famous names is a very small selection:
- EM Forster
- Virginia Woolf
- Lytton Strachey
- Edward Thomas
- Sylvia Plath
- Ted Hughes
- John Betjeman
After a long literary history, in 2009 the Orchard was immortalized in fiction. Much of Jill Dawson's novel The Great Lover takes place at the Orchard and follows the last few years of Brooke's life, including a fictional love story with a young maid name Nell.
The Rupert Brooke Museum
For more than ten years the Orchard has been home to the small Rupert Brooke Museum. Entry is free and inside you will find a small collection about Brooke's short life, as well as a number of souvenirs. You can also join the Rupert Brooke Society and buy copies of their newsletters.
Getting to The Orchard
Grantchester is only a short drive from Cambridge, straight down the Grantchester Road, off of the A6043. Alternatively, and in my mind the best way, is to take a walk across the Grantchester meadows, alongside the river Cam.
If you're a fan of Rupert Brooke, or even just a lover of poetry and literature, then tea at the Orchard is a must during any visit to Cambridge. Even if you are simply a lover of good tea and cakes then this is the place to visit. I cannot wait to go back.
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