There are some heritage tea-rooms that deserve a special mention, and this includes NT Mottistone on the Isle of Wight. First, there was a warm welcome that makes a big difference. Second, tea was served in a proper teapot and cups and saucers were provided. Third, the scone was well above the normal standard for NT fare. Fourth (and outside the control of the NT), the sun shone.
Tea with the National Trust has become a rather mixed affair with a move away from quality tea blenders, and with a very bland, and often disappointing, range of cakes on offer. At least there is a corner of an island that takes pride in what it has to offer.
1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)
The hospital of Maison Dieu was built in the 13th century at Ospringe in Kent and stood on the line of the main road from Dover to London. The earliest records date back to the reign of Henry III. The building was placed in State guardianship in 1947.
S.E. Rigold wrote the official guidebook (1958) consisting of a history and a description. There are a number of black and white images. G.C. Dunning added a section on the museum; there is a plan showing the layout of the display cases. Dunning includes a review of Roman finds in the area of Ospringe. He also includes a note on the Ospringe finds now in the British Museum.
Chesters Roman Fort tea room © David Gill
What enhances the visit to a heritage site? High up on the list will be the tea room. And the experience will be judged by the range of cakes, choice of blend, and (most significantly at the moment) the option to have an extra jug of water. (Am I alone in thinking that most tea outlets only expect you to drink one cup of tea?)
And what else makes the visit memorable? Probably the name of the tea room.
Here is a memorable name for the (former) establishment at Chesters Roman Fort now replaced (so I am reliably informed) by an English Heritage outlet.
I have met with new colleagues and contacts at the County Council, the Borough Council and the Hoteliers’ Association over the past couple of weeks. Discussions generally focused on non-heritage topics such as hotel occupancy levels and booking systems and followed through to community safety and bar/pub operations, including the Best Bar None and Purple Flag schemes. However all this “tourism talk” had clear parallels with ideas being discussed on aspects of museums, archives and conservation service planning (the more hard-core heritage operations!). What has been interesting is that the glue linking such topics and meetings was a shared aspiration for what heritage and culture can do in an specific urban setting such as Ipswich, or a wider County context for Suffolk. The physical infrastructure that surrounds us – the very material of the historic environment – has a lot to offer a location that recognises and understands that diversity in, and care of, the physical built environment draws people to places, makes people feel safer as they walk about, and provides opportunities to explore the culture of a locality away from the bubble of a car’s interior. People linger longer… The twilight and night-time economy, and the visitor experience of a hotel or pub within its cultural environment is enhanced through the literal and metaphorical ‘footfall’ of lingering, but much more needs to be understood about how people move about in a location, what they do, and how many there are. There are a variety of evidence bases which can be put to use, and much data does exist – but a research aspiration over the next few months is to establish a clear data requirement and help design a useful multipurpose evidence base that will link place, hospitality and economy to underpin some some of those local aspirations.