Today's Food and Frivolity comes from beautiful Belstone on Dartmoor. A village surrounded by Dartmoor's familiar wind-sculpted trees, Belstone has recently entered into my folklore research rather by accident. There was an intriguing anecdote in one of my books which I really wanted to follow up and, as I hadn't been to Belstone for some time, I thought I'd see what foody treats the village has to offer.
In the centre of the village, not far from the old stocks, you will find the Old School Tearoom, tucked away behind the Methodist chapel. Look out for the advertising board or you might miss it! Marion has been running the tea room for just over two years now - and it has a fascinating history.
The Old School was actually the local Sunday School - the only Sunday School in the village. Marion told me that when the new vicar arrived in Belstone, the Methodist minister made it clear that he wasn't keen on a new Sunday School being started, as all the children already attended his!
Over a warming pot of tea and a fantastic vegan/dairy free/gluten free flapjack, while sitting on a comfy sofa next to a woodburning stove, Marion told me that when she initially took on the premises, it was not in a good way and needed a full renovation. And it's a wonderful space - a high ceiling making it feel light and airy, yet incredibly cosy due to the stove's flue being internal and acting as a giant radiator. The Old School was built onto the back of the chapel in 1928 (the chapel itself dates from 1891) and the adjoining wall between them has been exposed after the crumbling plaster was removed in the renovation, making a great feature wall!
All of Marion's delicious-looking cakes are home-made, so if you have any allergies, you can be 100% confident that you're eating something that is safe for you. Marion finds that her customers like familiar favourites, with one or two new varieties to try.
The flapjack was every bit as moist, flavoursome and delicious as it looked and, even though it did not contain honey, there was a real honey taste to it - slightly floral, slightly spicy - which complemented the various seeds and the oats. It was light and went down beautifully with a cup of tea. In a china cup, too.
The Old School Tearoom has a lot more on offer, however. There is a range of handmade tea cosies for sale (with or without teapot! - the little guy below was my favourite), soap, books, periodicals, cards, local art, home-made chutney, jam and marmalade, knitted accessories - and if you have just come in from the moor with wet, muddy boots, you can leave them in the porch and pop on a pair of slippers while you warm up by the fire with your tea and cake. There's also treats and towels on hand for your muddy four-legged friends, too. Sounds like home from home, doesn't it? So what are you waiting for? The Bank Holiday weekend beckons, so get yourself over to Belstone and try the Old School Tearoom's delights for yourself!
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(top photo is an open source image from pixabay, the rest are my copyright.)
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