Spying Lumley Castle in the distance and knowing I was visiting for Afternoon Tea was a really good feeling. I absolutely love this place and travelling up the drive surrounded by beautiful parklands overlooking the River Wear in Chester-le-Street in, this 600-year-old castle perched at the top of the hill is a majestic site.
Once parked up we made our way inside, passing under the archway and through the cobbled area with photo opportunities aplenty! It’s beautiful and the architecture is amazing. There are a myriad of twists and turns through pretty gardens and walled areas and this continues as you make your way inside. It was so tempting to linger for even longer and take a stroll around the stunning grounds, but cake was calling!
Inside the castle it’s a feast for the eyes as with every turn you make there are more wonderful paintings and sculptures to see. It’s like a mini museum visit before you even experience the food.
For our Afternoon Tea, we were seated in the Black Knight Restaurant. This is an elegant softly-lit restaurant with a vaulted ceiling . The staff were attentive and very efficient. We had already booked our table and our 3 tiered cake stands and coffee and tea were served quickly after we were seated.
Each cake stand serves 2 people. The bottom tier comprised of cute finger sandwiches with fillings of tuna and cucumber, salmon and cream cheese and beef with rocket and chutney. There were homemade sultana scones with jam and cream on the middle tier and a few small cakes and macarons on the top tier.
There are a few options for the afternoon tea. I opted for the Champagne afternoon tea (would be rude not to!) which was tea or coffee plus a glass of fizz. There is also a Prosecco and a Pimms option, and the rest of my party had the Grand Afternoon tea. The difference between them is just in the extra beverage served (and the cost).
If I’m honest it wasn’t the best afternoon tea I’ve ever had. I’ve read other reviews and seen many photos of the cakes served (including on their own website) and ours looked very different. While the finger sandwiches were delicious, the scones were unfortunately quite dry and mostly cracked when we tried to eat them. The top tier of the cake stand had some what I can only describe as ‘very different’ types of cake, which were mostly a type of mousse with a gelatine layer on the top. There was also a small Nutella-type of filling in a pastry case, plus a zingy, lemon macaron.
Perhaps this is the standard right now for the afternoon tea, but I would have liked to have seen some sort of traditional sponge cake served instead of the jelly-type offerings that we had.
And so all in all, it was a little disappointing, even with the magnificent setting and extremely pleasant staff.