Having been asked a few times where to find a children’s afternoon tea, it seemed quite fortuitous I heard about Auckland Castle’s offering specifically aimed at the little darlings. I decided to take my niece along to try it out, with the intention I’d partake in the adults version. Also available with Prosecco, I ordered the ‘dry’ option with the driving and children! We gave 48 hours notice of our visit, as requested. Served up in the Castle’s Library Tea Room, we had a wander in the grounds first to build up our appetite. It was a glorious summer day, which allowed us to fully enjoy the verdant grounds. We also took time to wander round the Castle and to see some of the grand paintings it is home to. With a history spanning over a thousand years, it was long seen as a symbol of power and authority as the home of the Prince Bishops.There wasn’t time with Dinky to take a walk through the deer park, which historically used as a hunting ground. She was hungry and fussy, so we stayed close to the Castle’s facilities so I could take care of her. She enjoyed sitting on the grass and trying to help her cousin play Jenga.
Served in the Library Tea Room daily until 3pm, their tea for the under 12s includes a selection of sandwiches such as Ham and Cheese, as well as a scone with homemade jam, Chocolate Fudge Cake and a Raspberry Jelly and a Marshmallow. My niece appreciated the simplicity of the food, not being fond of overly fussy afternoon teas that we’ve had in the past.
Presented on a silver tea stand, like the adult version, the traditional accompaniment of tea or coffee has been replaced with a strawberry milkshake or hot chocolate for the younger guests. It is priced at £9 per child.
The grown-up version of the afternoon tea (£18) is definitely impressive, and is created with local produce. I was able to request a vegetarian version, and I believe egg and gluten-free dietary requirements can also be catered for. Taking a slight departure from tradition, I was served an Amuse-bouche to start. This Apple and Beetroot Soup, which also featured on a Tea Room’s lunchtime menu, was presented in a tiny teacup and was delicious. The earthiness of the beetroot definitely benefited from the sweetness of the apple. My sandwiches arrived next, with a salad ingredients fresh from the Castle’s kitchen garden. There was a Weardale Cheese Rarebit (my particular favourite), Cheese Waldorf and Cucumber and Cream Cheese. Everything was elegantly presented and tasty. My tea, which was loose leaf Taylors of Harrogate, was kept topped up. My niece was also offered some once she’d finished her milkshake too. Because of requesting a vegetarian afternoon tea, I was not served the Rhubarb & Custard Marshmallow or the Gin Jelly with popping candy other diners were enjoying. It was actually refreshing not to have to ask what the ingredients were and for the staff to be knowledgeable on restrictions. I’ve not found that in other dining establishments of late, having been served up Prawn sandwiches and marshmallows at Hawthorns recently (post coming soon). Instead, I was given a slice of Courgette & Pecan Cake and a Bakewell Biscuit. Along with the Lime & Ginger Cake, a Fig & Date Financier, a mixed Fruit and Chocolate & Hazelnut Scones, I was fit to burst with all these treats! There was the option to box up any remainder items, as most places do these days. The scones were served warm with castle-made Raspberry Jam. I could have just eaten these and been happy enough.
With the Castle closing towards the end of September to begin a two-year renovation project I wondered what was going to happen with the Library Team Room during this period. I was told that it will remain open until Christmas, with special events scheduled during the festive season. There will still be the grounds and the deer park to walk around, so a visit will not be in vain. The work planned sounds exciting, and I’m sure when we return Auckland Castle will be spectacular. The Walled Garden Restaurant will be a striking structure once completed, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing this.
Thanks for reading,