Going to the cafe and the gift shop has become as much a part of a museum visit as enjoying the collections themselves but the National Railway Museum has gone one better – a tearoom you might want to visit with the added bonus of trip to see its remarkable collection.
The Countess of York is a charming tearoom inside a beautifully restored railway carriage with decor that evokes a bygone era.
It’s only offering is afternoon tea – but it’s a tea worth travelling for.
The traditional tiered serving of finger sandwiches, scones and fancies proves plenty to while away the time.
Unusually there’s also a mini soup course – currently a warming and spicy butternut squash for the autumn which, together with the warm scone, is a welcome rise in temperature.
The sweet collection includes a light creme brûlée as well as a tantalising macaroon.
And the selection of teas on offer is second to none. I sampled a robust South African estate tea and a light and perfumed China rose tea.
Both served in solid silver pots and at just the right temperature. In a world where the coffee drinker is king, this place elevates the tea drinker to be queen.
With the uniformed waitress rushing through the carriage to serve everything or offer advice, it’s easy to forget that this is a train that’s going nowhere – sometimes you’ll need to take a quick check out of the window just to be sure that you’re not travelling down the tracks.
The afternoon tea is served each day between 12pm and 4pm. and costs £19.95 (children £14.50) or £27.50 with champagne. A visit to the tearoom includes free parking, and of course, the museum with its outstanding collection of locomotives is available for a gentle stroll after tea.
Countess of York is situated between Great Hall and Station Hall in the Museum’s South Gardens.