Tea at 78 Derngate may be the best Afternoon Tea value in England

78 Derngate decorated for Christmas

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish architect and designer of both the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements.  My interest in Mackintosh began many years ago when I learned about the furniture and interiors that he and his wife Margaret Macdonald created for The Willow Tearooms in Glasgow.  I haven’t made it up to Glasgow (yet) to see The Willow Tearooms, but I was fortunate enough recently to have been invited to see 78 Derngate in Northampton – the site of Mackintosh’s only domestic commission in England.

The modest house at 78 Derngate was a wedding gift in 1917 to Northampton businessman W. J. Bassett-Lowke from his father.  Not entirely to his liking, Bassett-Lowke hired Mackintosh to help with a renovation. The end result took portions of the house from modest to remarkable – a hybrid mix of geometric Mackintosh (the hall/lounge) and cosy Mackintosh (the dining room, below) – which is the Mackintosh style I favour.


78 Derngate decorated for Christmas

The Dining Room, 78 Derngate


I highly recommend a visit to 78 Derngate in Northampton. The staff are very friendly and accommodating, and the house tours are led by knowledgeable guides. Exhibits, special events,  and educational activities are held there, and you will also find a gift shop. More importantly, I am happy to say, is that there is also a place for Afternoon Tea.


 The Bassett-Lowkes at tea, 78 Derngate

Tea in the Dining Room, 78 Derngate, the Bassett-Lowkes


A balcony tea at 78 Derngate

Tea on the balcony, 78 Derngate



Afternoon Tea at The Dining Room tea room 78 Derngate, Northampton

Tea in The Dining Room restaurant, 78 Derngate


The Dining Room restaurant at 78 Derngate provides home cooked fresh food for breakfast, lunch, dinner – and Afternoon Tea.  The space is very welcoming: lots of windows with a simple but classy ambiance.

But the real attraction of The Dining Room is the food. I have had many an Afternoon Tea – and the tea food here ranks tops.


Afternoon Tea savouries from The Dining Room at 78 Derngate, Northampton     Afternoon Tea at The Dining Room, 78 Derngate, Northampton     Afternoon Tea scones and sweets, The Dining Room, 78 Derngate, Northampton

The full Afternoon Tea at The Dining Room is served on two – yes, two! – separate cake stands. The first arrives with savouries. On the day Mr. Tea and I visited, the first stand had sandwiches of egg; ham; and cucumber on the bottom tier; warm tarts and cheese scones on the middle tier; and coronation chicken filo cups on the top tier. All savouries – one of each per person – were freshly made and contained plenty of flavour and plenty of filling. We consumed it all, and it was superb!

At this point, we didn’t think we could eat another morsel, but when the second cake stand arrived – laden with warm scones; cakes (including a cupcake topped with mini-marshmallows which had been lightly toasted – scrumptious!); tarts; macarons; and truffles – we couldn’t resist giving it our best shot. Perfection on a plate is the only way I can describe it all.  There truly is more food here than two people can eat, but fear not – a takeaway box will gladly be provided.

At £16.50 per person, which includes unlimited tea or coffee, Afternoon Tea at The Dining Room has to be one of the best – if not the best – Afternoon Tea values in England.

The designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh at 78 Derngate aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but tea at The Dining Room, 78 Derngate is certainly mine.



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  1. You make everything sound soooo good! Wish I could come to Surrey (and other parts of England) and enjoy this tea. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  2. This looks like a fabulous place to have a cuppa! The outlay of dainties sounds amazing (and I don’t think I’d have any trouble polishing off two cake stands!). To get a look inside the Willow Tea Rooms, check out my blog post: http://www.picturebritain.com/2012/04/glasgow-experience-willow-tea-rooms.html

  3. What a wonderful tearoom! The food looks wonderful and two cake stands! Oh my! Thank you for sharing your tea and the information! So interesting! Merry Christmas to you!

    • Nancy, it was absolutely superb – first time I have ever encountered so much food at Afternoon Tea, and all of it just lovely. Merry Christmas to you, too, my friend! x

  4. Denise, I’d love to join you there for tea in that lovely dining room. The menu sounds delightful!

  5. Oh, this is beautiful. I love the old photos of tea in the home and then the NEW photo: that you can still have tea there today! I love the idea of having tea in an architectural gem. How delightful. By the way, how do you get your photos to look so beautifully out-of-focus? I love that atmospheric blurry look.

    • Glad you liked it. Well …. lol …. some of my beautiful out-of-focus photographs are probably just the result of someone who doesn’t have a clue on how to use a camera: ME!! But otherwise, I edit them in Picasa. It’s really, really easy and Picasa is free.

  6. Look at your sweet face there having tea in that lovely tea room! Wish I were there with you sipping and indulging in goodies! Almost Christmas! Have a wonderful, merry, happy day!

  7. Dear, Denise
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and happy holidays!

  8. Gorgeous. And I like that there was a good proportion of savoury food with the tea: usually, I get sugared-out too quickly!

  9. This looks fabulous. I am both a Rennie Mac and an afternoon tea fan. My Mum stencilled her home based on Rennie Mackintosh designs and Willow Tea Rooms was on our list of ‘day outs’ now 78 Derngate will join that list, Thanks.

    • Hi Helen, and welcome. You will not be disappoitned with 78 Derngate! And I do hope you will be able to enjoy their Afternoon Tea as well.

      I absolutely cannot WAIT to spend some time on your blog. Have just nipped over for a look and W.O.W. You and your mum are very talented!!

      See you soon! x

  10. How I would love having tea here.
    Love this architecture too.
    So double DELIGHT!

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