Welcome to The Orchard
The Orchard, a corner of England where time stands still as the world rushes by. Relax, enjoy the genteel setting and soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era.
Tea drinking, that most quintessential of English customs is, perhaps surprisingly, a relatively new tradition for, whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China, it was only popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II.
It was later in 1840 that afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at 8 o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess, who would become hungry around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter (some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread) and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her. This pause for tea became a fashionable social event. During the 1880s, upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between 4 and 5 o’clock.
The Orchard was first planted in 1868. One late spring morning in 1897, a group of Cambridge students asked Mrs Stevenson, of Orchard House, if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees, rather than as usual on the front lawn of her house, unaware that they were starting a great Cambridge tradition. The students enjoyed their rural tea and word spread around the colleges. Very soon the Orchard became a popular upriver resort with students walking or cycling along the Grantchester Grind and through Grantchester Meadows, or by punting upstream on the River Granta.
In fact, for over 700 years, students such as Newton, Darwin, Cromwell, Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson, Marlow and Spense have walked, ridden or boated from Cambridge to Grantchester Village.
In taking tea at the Orchard, you are joining an impressive group of luminaries including Rupert Brooke (poet), Virginia Woolf (author), Maynard Keynes (economist), Bertrand Russell (philosopher), Alan Turing (inventor of the computer), Ernest Rutherford (split the atom), Crick and Watson (discovered DNA), Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author) and HRH Prince Charles (future King of England).
Please take your time. Delight in your own thoughts, marvel at nature and enjoy your friends, for you are in a place which, thanks to the benefaction of Mr Robin Callan, will, in the words of Rupert Brooke, remain ‘forever England’.
Orchard Tea Garden is under new management. We are trying to blend the traditions of the Orchard, which are so important to so many, with a customer-focused experience. We are seeking a slow pace of evolution keeping everything which so many people have loved about coming here for so long, but being “just a little bit better every day”. We truly value your feedback and if you find anything to be less than perfect, please tell us immediately and we will try and make changes; alternatively you can email us at email@example.com
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