A Brief Encounter Over Tea

Brief Encounter tea roomAs a tea enthusiast, I’m always on the look-out for anything related to tea. As an Anglophile, I’m always on the look-out for that English connection. And as a lover of cinema, I’m always on the look-out for a good film.

I found all three in a 1946 English film called Brief Encounter.

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter is the quintessential English romantic drama. It was filmed in black & white and is very atmospheric thanks to the well-known and talented director David Lean. What makes it absolutely brilliant, of course, is the fact that a large part of the film’s action takes place in the refreshment room (i.e., tea room) of a train station. It is a bittersweet love story, enhanced in the film by the haunting melody of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter was filmed at a railway station (Carnforth) in the North of England during the war. This particular location was chosen partly because it was far enough from Southeast England that, should there be one, sufficient warning of an air-raid attack could be given allowing time to turn out the filming lights to comply with wartime blackout restrictions.

Carnforth station and it’s real-life refreshment room has become a bit of a mecca for Brief Encounter fans. It’s on my Bucket List, that’s for sure! (Read my post about another real-life refreshment room in Hampshire.)

I have owned the Brief Encounter DVD  for many years and I never, ever, ever tire of watching it. It’s a love story – a sad love story – and stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard (whom I adore).

Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

The Brief Encounter Story

At a railway station refreshment room, housewife Laura Jesson meets doctor Alec Harvey. Although they are both already married, they gradually fall in love with each other. They continue to meet every Thursday at the station, although they know that their love is impossible.

Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter

The film was released amid the social and cultural context of the Second World War when ‘brief encounters’ were thought to be commonplace.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

If you have never seen it, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of the Brief Encounter DVD, brew yourself a pot of tea, and spend a couple of blissful hours watching this beloved English film. It will satisfy every tea-drinking Anglophile film fan.


Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter


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  1. Kathleen Bond says:

    I’ve only caught bits of this on TCM channel (Turner Classic Movies). I always seem to come in on the middle of it. I will make an effort now to keep my eyes open and catch it from the beginning. Love those old WWII romances!!

    P.S. Love your blog!

  2. I have to see this now! I’m going to be living just outside of Carnforth for two months this spring, so hopefully I’ll be able to spend more than enough time in this station 🙂

    Thanks for the suggestion!


  3. I first saw this movie many years ago, and I didn’t want to like it because the characters were both married to other people. But as you say, it’s very atmospheric and combines those three things we love – tea, English and cinema!

  4. Christy Kay says:

    I remember this movie. I loved it! Unfortunately, these days no one shows black and whites anymore. They think classic movies are from the 1980’s. Geez. I long to see alot of the older movies again because they were always the best!

  5. This is one of my all time favorite movies. We have an extremely large dvd collection, and I watch this one quite often. I love the train station in this. As a child we frequently took the train and I remember how posh those train coaches and stations were. It was wonderful! I am only 50, but things are very different now.

  6. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this one!

  7. Now this is a movie I need to find and watch. It looks like my cup of tea.

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