Saturday, 15 November 2014

Bloomsbury Secret Tea Party

To celebrate my forthcoming book MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party (pre-order now, out November 27th), which has a directory of UK secret teas in the back, I will occasionally be featuring other secret tea parties, that is private tea rooms in people's homes. I did my first secret tea party back in April 2009, a few months after I started my underground restaurant. I've always loved the ritual, the prettiness, the sandwiches and the baking that goes into an afternoon tea. I like to drink multiple cups of tea, from a pot, intermingled with the odd glass of champagne or teapot cocktail. I adore the gossipy potential of afternoon meetings, dressing up for the occasion. 
One such secret tea room is run by Australian cookbook author David Herbert from his house in Norbiton, London. David is a collector and devotee of the Bloomsbury period of art. When you visit his tea room, you are surrounded by valuable china, ceramics, paintings from the Bloomsbury era. You even get to sit on Virginia Woolf's chairs, the seat cushions were sewn by her.
Plus you get exquisite baking, dainty smoked salmon fingers, the lightest sponges, a beautifully decorated cake (David decorated cakes for the Downton Abbey set and this was a similar example) and relentless silver pots of tea (keep 'em coming, that's how I like it). The table was dressed with delicate linens, original Edwardian glassware and enormous brightly coloured dahlias from his garden. 
David has a wonderful eye, he chose the props and backgrounds for the photo shoots for my V is for Vegan book due next spring. It was an education visiting prop houses with him. 
Below is a photo gallery, an unashamed visual feast, a riot of colour and texture, just because his house is so gorgeous, every little bit of it, down to the teaspoons.
Bloomsbury ceramics, stained glass door, David Herberts secret tea

Hand painted lampshades, bloomsbury era,David Herberts secret tea

Mini Victorian sponge, David Herberts secret tea

Blackberry friands, David Herbert's secret tea party

Bloomsbury ceramics, David Herbert's secret tea party

Edwardian glass, David Herbert's secret tea party

Edwardian decorated cake,  David Herbert's secret tea party

slice of cake David Herbert's secret tea party

David Herbert in his garden

salt and pepper collection, ceramics, David Herbert's secret tea party

smoked salmon sandwich,  David Herbert's secret tea party

tiny chocolate croustades, David Herbert's secret tea party

Textiles and colour, David Herbert's secret tea party

Bloomsbury ceramics,David Herbert's secret tea party

Bloomsbury ceramics,  David Herbert's secret tea party

David Herbert meets the Duchess of Cornwall

Virginia Woolfs chair,  David Herbert's secret tea party

bloomsbury ceramics David Herbert's secret tea party

Beautifully laid tea table, bloomsbury ceramics,  David Herbert's secret tea party

Quentin Bell painting, David herbert's Secret tea party
David Herberts Bloomsbury Tea can be booked via


  1. This goes to the top of my favourite of all your blogs. The subject, beautiful photographs, smoked salmon finger sandwiches, Tattingers are all my cup of tea.

  2. I'm very intrigued and happy to find this post. I have recently inherited my Mamas home it's a old little cottage type in San.Francisco view of the bay and bridge.. It has a dinning room which has never been used as, always been an extra bed room. My moms grand parents who came from Russia purchased it in 1925, anyhow been thinking of having a private tea room this post made me believe it's possible. I have collected depression dishes tea pot cups etc. since years ago I used it all but I love to cook bake have tea parties.. Would be. Fabulous idea thanks for sharing. I loved this post with love Janice

    1. Hi Janice, thanks for your comments! Tea parties are perfect for us homeware aficionados!

  3. I remember your first secret tea party so well :-) I just re-read your post on the afternoon and the mention you gave me made me chuckle.

    1. It's funny looking back. Why did I put the pictures so small? I think it was because I was trying to make a change from being a photographer to a food writer and chef so I didn't want to emphasise them or something...

  4. Gorgeous! I love the idea of secret meetings and even more so when then include tea and food!

    1. Exactly!! I've got my next Secret Tea Party on November 29th if anybody is in London that weekend.

  5. Secret Tea Parties are such a great idea. Actually, pretty much anything involving cake is a pretty phenomenal idea...

    1. You know, every time I blog about cake I get plenty of hits. You can't go wrong with cake.

  6. HI.. thanks for the blog post. Just ordered your secret tea party book.... nice to see its available before xmas dx

    1. David, it was an absolute pleasure. Thanks so much for ordering my book you absolute darling xx


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