If it’s coffee or tea near a cathedral you’re after, Brentwood is actually not a bad place to try…
You’d better be Catholic if you’re wanting to attend a Mass, but otherwise stick your head round the door and see the 22 chandeliers or the hundreds of ‘Essex chairs’ in the nave.
I didn’t even realise there were chair designs for each county till I saw these in Brentwood. (Will have to check what a ‘Yorkshire Chair’ looks like some time…).
Poor old William Hunter wasn’t a Catholic when he was killed for continuing to read the Bible in 1555. You tend to see more memorials to Catholic martyrs round the country but there were obviously times in our past when being a protestant was not good for your health either…
His memorial obelisk is part of a car park now. But then so is most of Brentwood, after 1,000 bombs fell on the town during World War II.
The High Street survived amazingly well, though. And our chosen place for coffee is not far from that Hunter obelisk at the top of the High Street.
Rossi was so busy around 11am that I had to wait half an hour for the crowds to clear a little. They obviously stick by traditional Elevenses in Brentwood…
The coffee was worth waiting for, though. Made personally by owner Mark, who was keen to find out how I liked my cappuccino before he began to make it (he reckons he knows nearly all his customers now and doesn’t need to ask anymore once you’ve been in a few times, but it was very nice to be asked…).
The cakes were not baked in-house, but if you’re going to have factory-made cakes, it’s not so bad when you have a jam and cake specialist operating a few miles away in Tiptree. Yep, this is the home of Wilkins, who make the Tiptree jams and have a cakes arm to their business these days.
I’ll have to come back in summer for the home-made ice cream; meantime Wilkins’ lemon drizzle was actually not bad…
Afternoon tea was down at the other end of town; in fact a mile and a half away along the same road as High Street, but by then it’s called London Road.
This was the fantastically elegant 16th century manor house MaryGreen Manor. It has a wonderful history, with connections to Henry VIII, Samuel Pepys and even the Wright Brothers.
I’m sure any or all of them would have been delighted with the set Afternoon Tea on offer there today.
Excellent scones, with clotted cream so good it almost made me wish they’d provided four scones and skipped the lovely pieces of cake on top of the tiered platter.
The tea was from a company I hadn’t come across before. Newby Teas is London-based. The tea was in a tea bag rather than loose-leaf, but you know, it made a good strong brew, even when adding water from the re-fill jug. Altogether, an excellent experience.
Made me glow with pleasure from the day in Brentwood.
But you know what I forgot to ask?
Did Steve Davis ever have tea here when he lived in Brentwood in the 1990s? Has he been back lately? Did he know Mr Rossi? Or the new owners of the coffee shop in town?