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Afternoon tea in North Devon

No trip to the west country is complete without an Afternoon Tea in North Devon. So indulge your taste buds and enjoy Britain’s most loved tradition. 


Afternoon Tea History, Then and Now

Quintessentially English, Afternoon Tea in North Devon is a must when visiting the area.

Dating back to the 1840s, afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford.

Anna would become peckish around four o’clock in the afternoon and would ask that a tray of tea, bread and butter, and a cake be brought to her room around that time. It became a habit of hers.

Eventually, she began inviting friends to join her. During the 1880s this became a fashionable social event among the upper class and has since continued to this day.

A traditional afternoon tea consists of finger sandwiches, scones served with cream and jam, as well as a selection of cakes and pastries. 

Devonshire cream tea is infamous around the world and consist of scones, strawberry jam, and the all-important Devon clotted cream. No matter where you go in North Devon, cream tea can be found in almost every cafe, coffee shop, or tea room. 

Our guide to afternoon tea in North Devon will give you common etiquette when part-taking in this British tradition as well as a list of places where you’ll find some of the best afternoon teas North Devon has to offer.


Afternoon Tea in North Devon

Use the quick links below to navigate to a specific place or read on for our comprehensive guide to Afternoon Tea in North Devon:


Afternoon Tea Etiquette

Apart from complaining about the weather, is there anything more British than Afternoon Tea? But what a lot of people don’t understand is there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do. According to Visit Britain, these are the top three afternoon tea etiquette tips to remember:

  • The Order of Consumption

Your afternoon tea should always be consumed in the following order; finger sandwiches first, warm scones second, and those delightful cakes last. No matter how tempting it might be to eat them first. 

  • How should you eat your scones?

This is a hotly debated topic, but generally, scones should be broken in half using a fork or by hand. Each section should be consumed separately and never sandwiched back together. But what about the cream and jam? 

Well depending on where you are will depend on what goes first. If you’re eating your afternoon tea in Devon then it’s always cream first then jam, in Cornwall however, it’s jam then cream. 

  • Tea Time

One person is elected ‘mother’, they must then pour the tea for everyone at the table. But before this happens, you must remember to put the milk in your cup first. The tea must then be stirred back and forth, not in circular motions and you must never bash the spoon on the side of the cup. 

When holding your cup it should be held with your thumb and index finger meeting in the handle and your middle finger resting on the handle. Never hook your fingers through the handle.


Where To Eat Afternoon Tea in North Devon

Woolacombe Bay Hotel

Woolacombe Bay Hotel afternoon tea in North Devon

Image Credit: Woolacombe Bay Hotel

Served daily between 1.30pm and 3.30pm, you’ll find the culinary delights of Afternoon Tea at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel. Enjoy three tiers of treats, both savoury and sweet, with stunning seascapes as your backdrop. 

Their afternoon tea comes with homemade scones, lashings of clotted cream, huge dollops of jam, a selection of finger sandwiches and other homemade cakes, pastries, and desserts. Upgrade to an Afternoon Tea with Bubbles and enjoy a freshly brewed tea as well as a glass of champagne. 

Sandy Cove Hotel

No trip to North Devon is complete without an afternoon tea. Whether you’re just looking for a north Devon cream tea or you’re wanting the whole lot – sandwiches and all, there’s nowhere more special than Sandy Cove Hotel. 

Located on a cliff top, Sandy Cove Hotel offers unrivalled views over the sea, north Devon’s rugged coastline, and the rolling hills of Exmoor. Creating the perfect backdrop for a luxurious afternoon tea. 

Served daily between 12 and 5pm, you’ll be able to feast on finger sandwiches, freshly made cakes and pastries, fluffy homemade scones and a delicious freshly-brewed tea. 

Saunton Sands Hotel

Saunton Sands Hotel for afternoon tea in North Devon

Overlooking miles of pristine sands Saunton Sands Hotel offers the perfect setting for a quintessentially English Afternoon Tea in North Devon. Indulge your taste buds with one of their delectable afternoon teas, comprising of scones with cream and jam, a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly-brewed tea, and other homemade treats.

Booking here is essential as it fills up fast. They often have festive afternoon teas around the Christmas period as well as other events that are worth checking out. 

If you’re looking to really treat yourself, why not celebrate a birthday or anniversary with a champagne afternoon tea with your nearest and dearest?

The Corn Dolly Tea Shop

If you’re looking for one of the best cream teas in North Devon, The Corn Dolly Tea Shop might just be the place for you. This family-run tea shop has been serving home cooked food, scones, cakes, treats for the past 30 years.

Enjoy a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with friends and family, even your four legged friends are welcome too. On a cold wet day the log burner makes The Corn Dolly Tea Shop even more inviting.

Royal & Fortescue Coffee House

Set in the heart of Barnstaple, The Royal & Fortescue Coffee House, provides a delightful setting to take some time out. With a mouthwatering array of cupcakes, pastries, and of course, a North Devon cream tea, you’ll be disappointed if you don’t stop by.

The Royal & Fortescue Coffee House is famous for its range of speciality coffees and warming hot chocolate. 

If you’re looking for something a little more substantial inside the hotel grounds you’ll also find a delightful cocktail bar, a brasserie, and cosy lounge serving both lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Nelly May’s Parlour

Nelly May’s Parlour in Ilfracombe, is an award-winning traditional tea room oozing with olde worlde charm and character. It’s the perfect choice to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast, lunch, coffee, or afternoon tea. 

Although currently closed until the end of June 2022, they will be open Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. Bookings are recommended so you aren’t left disappointed as all food is freshly baked. 

Licensed to hold events, it’s the perfect place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, Christening, and more. 

Hele Corn Mill & Tea Room

Hele Mill afternoon tea in North Devon

Image Credit: Hele Corn Mill & Tea Room

Having been voted Best Tea Room in Devon for 4 years, Hele Corn Mill & Tea Room is a definite must on anyone’s list. This stunning 16th Century water mill in North Devon is located just 300m from Hele Bay Beach. Making it the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Devonshire cream tea in the sun. 

Their delicious treats are baked fresh on the premises by the miller’s wife. All treats are made using stoneground flour from the water mill. 

Have kids? You’re in luck, they have a small area where the kids can participate in games and challenges arranged by the tea room so you can sit and enjoy your cream tea. 

Check their website for full opening times as they change depending on the time of the year. 

Highbullen Hotel

The Highbullen Hotel offers a range of dining options, from fine dining to a traditional afternoon tea. Located in Umberleigh, North Devon, The Highbullen Hotel provides guests with breathtaking views over the North Devonshire countryside. 

Enjoy a leisurely cream tea or lunch in the Drawing Room or Morning Room before enjoying a walk around the town or exploring the lovely surrounding countryside. Just like its rural surroundings, their afternoon teas change depending on the months, offering the very best of the seasons.  

Expect delicate finger sandwiches, scrumptious scones, thick Devon clotted cream and fruity jams as well as decadent cakes. They require 24 hours’ notice for afternoon tea so be sure to book to avoid disappointment. 

Tea by The Taw

Tea by the Taw is a vintage tea room run by Sandra Wiggins and Lesley James, both local ladies with a dream to bring their love of baking to the masses. 

They began their venture in 2014 and have since been serving traditional vintage High teas, cream teas, lunches, and cakes. 

Located in Barnstaple, Tea by the Taw is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 4pm. Fancy an afternoon tea at home? You’re in luck! They offer delivery within 15 miles of Barnstaple on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 am and 4 pm. So you can enjoy a delicious treat from the comfort of your own back garden.


Holiday Cottages in North Devon

Saltwater Granary holiday cottage North Devon

At Helpful Holidays, we have a range of properties across Devon that are perfect for a breakaway. Whether you’re searching for dog-friendly cottages, romantic holiday cottages, or even a cottage by the beach, we’ve got you covered. 

From country cottages to first-floor apartments, from shepherd’s huts in the middle of the Devonshire countryside to converted barns with stunning coastal views, you’ll find a home away from home.