Monday, 29 October 2018

Southern Cross Tea Rooms, Newton Poppleford, Devon

I took these photos in July 2009, and didn't really intend to do anything specific with them at the time. A few years later I did some research for a project involving pebble buildings in East Devon and this building came to my attention as having a pebble wall. So, I checked out my photos to see if I had the said wall. I didn't find anything conclusive, but decided to scan them anyway and have a look to see if the building has any interesting history.

Interestingly, it's been a tea room for more than 50 years. Founded in the 1950s by the Irish actress Eileen McKenna, she had a trademark of the 'clotted cream mountain', which was a super-sized version of the traditional Devon Cream Tea comprising scones lathered in jam and clotted cream together with a pot of tea...and if you could eat one massive confection, you received another one free!  Apparently, some of the celebrities who dined there included Bruce Forsyth and Prince Edward. The challenge remained for four decades during her tenure.

A Grade II listed building, it was built in the early 18th century, modernised in C19 and extended during the 20th century. The building is plastered cob on stone rubble footings, topped with brick and a thatched roof.

Something I did discover, is that from the rear corners the high garden walls were made from local large river cobbles. Newton Poppleford is taken from the Saxon words for 'new town by a pebble stream'...popples being an old Devon name for pebbles.

I only visited here once, but it holds a special place in my heart. I was just coming out of an especially dark time in my life, and chilling out in the garden with coffee (I can't remember if I had a cream tea, but it would be nice to think that I did!) coincided with the start of much happier times.

The photo above shows a wall, which may be one of the pebble walls indicated...although it's difficult to ascertain, as there's not much of it visible, and it's been painted white. Below is a photo of the front. It was difficult to get a decent photo, as it's on the busy A3052 road to Exeter. Hopefully, I'll be visiting the village again in order to look for more pebble buildings, at which time I might get some more photos of the tea rooms too...and treat myself to a cream tea! :)

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