The Jane Austen Centre, at 40 Gay Street in Bath, aims to be not only informative but exciting and illuminating; it has a lovely period atmosphere, exclusive film, costume, contemporary exhibits, maps and books. It is the perfect starting point to an exploration of Jane Austen’s Bath since Jane Austen actually lived in Gay Street (higher up the hill on the same side, at No.25) for some months in 1805.
Recently I have been so lucky as to ask few question to Donna Lodge from this reknown centre about the Regency Tea Room: a perfect tea room in perfect georgian style!
– How did the idea of the Regency Tea Room come out?
The Tea Room was opened when another floor became available in the building. (Originally, the Centre only occupied the two lower floors) The idea was that it would provide a service to our visitors to have a cafe in the building.
– Did you try to create an atmosphere that embody Jane Austen’s love for tea?
We definately tried to create a Jane Austen atmosphere, from the decoration of the room to the Georgian music that is played in the background. We knew that tea was quite a luxury in Jane Austen’s day as it was very expensive and generally kept under lock and key within the household. In Jane’s home, she herself was responsible for the ‘tea key’.
– How did you link your menu with Jane Austen’s novels?
A local tea company created a tea for us, called Jane Austen blend which is extremely popular. It is a blend of Chinese black tea which was popular in Regency times. Our afternoon tea is called ‘Tea with Mr Darcy’, and until very recently each item on the menu was named after an Austen character. We still have a Dashwood’s Tea, Crawford’s Crumpets and Mr. Bennet’s Toasties!
– What is the tea people like the most?
The drink of tea that is most popular is either the classic English Breakfast tea or the Jane Austen blend. The afternoon tea which is most popular is definately the ‘Tea with Mr Darcy’ which consists of a pot of tea of your choice, sandwiches, homemade cake and of course scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
– How did you succeed in taking part of the “Tea Guild”? Is it for the wonderful idea of linking one of the most beloved English author to a most beloved English ritual or is it even for the excellence of our service?
It is very prestigious to be given the Tea Guild award for Excellence so of course we wanted to be part of that. To gain it you need to serve a wide variety of tea, give excellent customer service, have a lovely ambience etc. We wanted the award so that we would be recognised as one of the best Tea Rooms in the country.
Here’s the menu of the Regency Tea Room!
What can I say more?
I wish you would all be able someday to go to Bath and enjoy a pefect brew in this lovely spot!