A tiny corner of the National Trust’s Wallington house in Northumberland has been brought to life by the opening of a tea room inspired by the war diaries of Mary, Lady Trevelyan.
The tea room transports you back to the Second World War at a time when Wallington was home to a number of evacuees. The children had fled the dangers of city living in Newcastle for the safety of this Northumberland estate owned by socialist Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan.
On the 10September 1939, a large group of parents made the journey from Elswick to Wallington to visit their children, and Lady Mary, or Molly as she was fondly known, saw an opportunity. The following week she arranged for the parents to be served with tea at the cost of two pence a cup, and she comments in her diary that they ‘made a tidy profit on the transaction’.
Now, in the spirit of bringing to life the stories behind the special places that they look after, the National Trust is offering the chance to take ‘Tea the Trevelyan Way’ in the house at Wallington.
The tea room is furnished of the era with a mixture of antique and replica furniture, china and serving utensils. War time and tea dance music drifts across the room from a mock-gramophone and a 1930’s newspaper sits on the side for people to read. Even the waiting staff, who offer table service, have got into the spirit by wearing plus fours or 1940’s pinafores and a simple menu of tea, coffee, finger sandwiches, cake or cream scone is available for a set price of £5.95.
Gillian Mason, visitor experience manager at Wallington told us:
“The idea for Tea the Trevelyan Way grew from our work with performing arts company November Club, who last year started to tell some of the stories of the Trevelyan family at Wallington through a unique performance. We’re working with November Club again this year on a performance about the evacuees in September, but we wanted to incorporate some of the stories and experiences into our daily offer.”
In the tea room you may spot a tea cup and saucer that has been stapled together. Legend has it that Sir Charles was a tad clumsy and when famous actress Sybil Thorndike was staying at Wallington, her husband would take pleasure in fixing Sir Charles’ latest breakage. You will also see images of the evacuees who lived at Wallington during the war which are decoratively displayed in small war time suitcases along the walls of new tea room.
“Tea the Trevelyan Way is a really unique experience. It’s not often you get to sit down in a National Trust house to enjoy your surroundings and soak up the history over a cup of tea. We hope the tea room will provoke intrigue into the story of the Trevelyan family who led such an unconventional life here at Wallington."
Tea the Trevelyan Way is served daily except Tuesdays in the house at Wallington from 12 – 4pm.