The Mock Turtle, A Brighton tea shop

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

Tell me, who can resist a tearoom overflowing with blue-and-white china, especially when it’s the Willow pattern? I certainly can’t.
There are conflicting stories behind the history of the ‘Blue Willow’ pattern. The most commonly held belief has the original engraving being done by Thomas Minton in 1790, inspired by the blue and white porcelain that the English were importing from China at that time.[pullquote]There’s a pleasure eternally new, ‘Tis to gloat on the glaze and the mark, Of china that’s ancient and blue. -Andrew Lang, Ballades in Blue China, 1880[/pullquote]
The marketing behind Minton’s Willow pattern was clever: tell everyone that the pictures in the design are based on an ancient Chinese legend about two lovers who are transformed into lovebirds. It’s a nice thought, but no such legend exists. The story is English in origin, and has no links to China.  It doesn’t seem to make any difference, however – ‘Blue Willow’ has been in production for over 200 years now and remains as popular as ever.
Speaking of china (the other kind of china), the picture above is what I call The Great Wall of China and it was taken at The Mock Turtle in Brighton, England on my last visit there.  The Mock Turtle has been a tearoom for decades. According to the authors of Fancy A Cuppa, 80-year old customers of The Mock Turtle tell the new owner that little has changed since they came for tea there more than 50 years ago.

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

It’s impossible to pass by The Mock Turtle and not be lured inside by its cosy front window display. It’s a very popular place and unless you get lucky, you will more than likely have to queue for a table. I happen to think it’s worth the wait.

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England
More beautiful blue and white china, this time on the walls.


The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

Food is homemade and has an excellent reputation for being delicious.  They carry a full breakfast and lunch menu (I have had their Welsh Rarebit before, and loved it), and serve Cream Tea, Afternoon Tea, and of course, a wide selection of cakes.


Cream Tea at The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

On this visit to The Mock Turtle, it was the perfect time of day for a Cream Tea . The tea was loose-leaf (their own Mock Turtle blend) and although the leaves were left in the teapot to stew brew (not an unusual practice in England), a small top-up jug of hot water was included. The tea was very good.
The scones looked similar to a bread roll and despite being a departure in texture from the more traditional ‘short’ scone, they were quite tasty. Jam, butter, and clotted cream was served alongside. I have seen some online reviews of the Cream Teas at The Mock Turtle that say whipped cream is used, but it has been my experience there (several times now) to have always been served clotted cream.
Cost of the Cream Tea was £5.75 and included 2 large scones (a choice of whole wheat or white), and a pot of tea.
The Mock Turtle is a 2-minute walk from Brighton Pier.
The Mock Turtle
4 Pool Valley
East Sussex BN1 1NJ
01273 327380 ‎
See the Tea in England Facebook page for related content, and more pictures of my visit to The Mock Turtle.

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by on 10/23/2012


  1. Ooh, if ever in Brighton I’ll definitely go to The Mock Turtle! Do they take reservations? Not that I would mind queueing there. I would feel so at home with all that blue and white china. Those rolls look delicious, but I have never seen anything like that called a scone!

    1. They don’t take reservations as far as I know, Jean; they don’t even have a website. I’m surprised to ‘hear’ you say that about scones as I thought you had spent quite a bit of time in the UK. Scones seem to come in all kinds of variations here. It has surprised me, actually.

  2. The goodies in the window remind me of an old-fashion bake sale. How fun to have the opportunity to visit this tearoom and see all that blue.

    1. It does resemble a bake sale – I never really thought about that, but you’re right. Sometimes – not very often, but sometimes – I can be overly forgiving about the food if the ambience is rocking my boat. The Mock Turtle would be one of those places.

  3. Those cakes! Oh me, oh my!! And Welsh Rarebit… one of my all time favourite lunch dishes. Or supper dishes. Or breakfast dishes, actually. Lovely looking tea shop, thank you for showing it to us.

  4. Lovely post that brought back two childhood memories; one of my grandma’s house full of willow pattern, including a soup tureen, which made me think of Lewis Caroll’s mock turtle…Whose namesake looks wonderful.

    1. Thanks Kitty. There’s something about blue & white, and especially Blue Willow. And thanks for bringing up Lewis Carroll’s mock turtle – I had failed to make the connection!

  5. This looks like a place I would enjoy visiting! Love all the blue and white, would absolutely enjoy sampling a cake or two, and those scones are intriguing. What a fun place!

  6. Looks like you had a great time! I’ve heard of the the mock turtle before, but never been which may need to be rectified soon – anywhere with pretty china is a winner with me 🙂

    1. Hi ya, A.L.B. and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Do go check out the Mock Turtle. Maybe the crowds won’t be so bad this time of year. I think a Cream Tea there, on a cold, wet, windy afternoon, would be perfect. If you go, let me know your thoughts as one of the, ahem, younger set.
      Just popped by your blog and must say well done to you and keep it up! I read your review about Legally Blonde the musical and now I wish I had seen it.
      P.S. Your chocolate banana bread looks delicious!! X

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