Date visited: Monday 13th June 2022
Beatons Tearooms & Bookshop in Tisbury was once the heart of a franchised chain of tearooms, with franchises in Blandford, Chester, Crowthorne, Morton-in-Marsh, New Milton, Wellington (near Telford) and Petersfield. The original Tisbury tearoom is now all that is left of the chain, and a new proprietor, Harry, took over in March of this year having worked in the tearoom for eleven years. Vestiges of the chain remain, with Beatons having branded crockery – something rare even in well established tearoom chains.
Beatons occupies the ground floor of a modern building – built in 2010 – and has a single tearoom with ten tables for those taking tea, as well as four tables outside at the front. There’s not much evidence of the ‘and bookshop’ side of the business, other than a single bookcase with a small selection of books. When I visited on a Monday lunchtime the tearoom was busy, with only a few empty tables, but had emptied by 2pm. As well as being open daily during normal daytime hours, under the new proprietor the tearoom has branched out to offer a cocktail evening on most Fridays.
Those taking tea appeared to be a mixture of local regular customers known to Harry and his team, and passing tourists. Tisbury is a village, and it is surprising that such a small place can sustain a tearoom as well as a delicatessen serving light meals and a pub. But a 15th century tithe barn – now an art gallery – and an ancient yew tree in the parish churchyard between them bring a small number of tourists to the area and supplement the trade from locals.
There are separate menus for brunch (served until 11.30am), lunch (served until 3pm), dessert, and afternoon tea, as well as a drinks menu. Only the lunch and drinks menus were available during my lunchtime visit, though with five cakes and bakes on display on a central table the dessert menu wasn’t really missed. The brunch and lunch menu each offer a choice of twenty or so items. The drinks menu offers a choice of thirty loose leaf teas – all displayed at the counter – as well as coffees, hot drinks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
A traditional rarebit with poached egg, a slice of cherry and coconut cake, and a pot of green sencha tea came to £18.10. The rarebit was filling but rather runnier than I would have preferred. The cherry and coconut cake was akin to a cherry bakewell without almonds, and very enjoyable. And a rare delight was that the green tea, though a little weak, was actually green rather than yellow!