Where to find Cream Teas...
Your guide to where to find the best cream teas in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Our corner of the country has so many fantastic places to visit and explore and this guide will give you plenty of inspiration for family days out – from trips to the coast or glorious gardens to historic homes or adventure playgrounds.
Once you have decided where to explore our at-a-glance map highlights nearby places to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea. And if you want to bring some of that tearoom style back home check out our selection of products, then once you’ve got the look, fill your kitchen with tearoom aromas with our delicious recipes from Billington’s.
There’s no excuse – start planning your exciting days out and tearooms to visit and relax in now.
Whether you are looking for a fun day out, a short break or a family holiday, Kent has so much to offer from beautiful beaches and historic houses, to delicious dining and fun-filled family entertainment.
With more than 4,000 miles of public footpaths taking you through parks, woodland and areas of outstanding beauty there is no excuse not to get away from it all, breathe in some fresh air and discover new places.
Rich in cultural heritage, Kent has so many stories to tell, nowhere more so than on its coast where you will find castles standing testament to the vast role coastal spots played in the defence of our country in times past.
The largest in England, medieval Dover Castle has been described as the ‘key to England’ and on a trip there you can roam through centuries of history and examine the Secret Wartime Tunnels within Dover’s White Cliffs. Further along the coast you will find castles at Walmer and Deal.
Kent’s coast is also home to more than 50 beaches – boasting more blue flag ones than any other county in England – and along its 350 miles of coastline you will find plenty of fun for all of the family, including the recently reopened Dreamland amusement park with its traditional seaside funfair and busy line-up of entertainment.
If walking miles along promenades seems a little too energetic for you, then hop aboard the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway which stretches 13 miles across Romney Marsh to Dungeness letting you explore while also sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the views.
If you discover this style of sightseeing is for you, then why not discover new places further inland by taking a trip on The Kent & East Sussex Railway travelling from Tenterden, through Rolvenden and Northiam to Bodiam, or head to the Spa Valley Railway which is located in one of the Seven Wonders of the Weald – Royal Tunbridge Wells? Make sure while you are there you take a wander around the spa town with its mix of historic spots such as The Pantiles, plus the modern shopping and theatre offerings. Other great shopping destinations in Kent include Ashford Designer Outlet, which is currently under expansion, and Bluewater, which is celebrating its 20th birthday.
Moving inland you will also discover plenty of historic sites to visit including Leeds Castle with 500 acres to explore; the ruined Norman Canterbury Castle; the 16th century Tudor Chiddingstone Castle, which was remodelled in the 19th century to a medieval style; Hever Castle, the home of Anne Boleyn; Lullingstone Castle in Eynsford with its World Garden, and Rochester Castle, which is regarded as one of the best-preserved and finest examples of Norman architecture in England. Plus there’s also Scotney, Sissinghurst, Sutton Valence, Tonbridge, Upnor, Eynsford, and Chilham castles to explore.
Step back in time
Kent’s museums are another way to delve into the county’s history. The Historic Dockyard Chatham will let you set sail on a voyage of discovery, which you can continue at the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum, Manston, the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham, or the Dover Transport Museum. Just a taste of what else is on offer includes The Powell-Cotton Museum, Birchington, Turner Contemporary, Margate, and Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs.
You can bring history to life at The Canterbury Tales by immersing yourself in five of Chaucer’s tales, or head to The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, but while you are in the city don’t forget to visit Canterbury Cathedral with its romanesque crypt and medieval stained glass windows.
Take the opportunity to soak up some cultural inspiration at one of Kent’s many theatres, including the Gulbenkian in Canterbury, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells and The Marlowe, Canterbury. Plus there is also the Winter Gardens, Margate, Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable, Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone, and EM Forster Theatre, Tonbridge, among many others.
Being the ‘Garden of England’ you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what glorious gardens to visit. From Riverhill Himalalayan Gardens in Sevenoaks, Hole Park Gardens in Rolvenden, and Westgate Gardens in Canterbury to Penshurst Place and Gardens, Great Comp Garden, in Platt, and Mount Ephraim Gardens in Hernhill, plus not to forget Goodnestone Park, Canterbury, there are a whole host of different styles of landscaping, design and plants to discover.
Animal lovers too will not be short of options for a great day out in Kent. Head to The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood where there are plenty of cuddly creatures to get up close to, or see some feathered friends in the flying demonstrations at Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation in Eynsford, The Kent Owl Academy within Kent Life or at Willows Birds of Prey Centre, in Knockholt.
Meanwhile at Wildwood Trust in Herne Bay you can see all kinds of animals, from bears and wolves to boar and badgers, and at Wingham Wildlife Park in Canterbury there is the largest number of animal species out of all wildlife parks and zoos in Kent including tigers, flamingos, bats and a red panda. Hemsley Conservation Centre, Sevenoaks, offers the chance to see some of the world’s most endangered and least understood species and The Big Cat Sanctuary in Ashford is another must-visit attraction.
Fancy going on safari but want to stay a bit closer to home? Then check out Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve in Hythe (home to Kent’s only giraffe) and Howletts Wild Animal Park in Canterbury, which is home to more than 400 animals including the largest herd of African elephants in the UK.
Other attractions for a great day out for all the family include Groombridge Place, near Tunbridge Wells, with its treetop walkway, Crusoe’s World and Enchanted Forest; Kent Life, a heritage farm park in Maidstone; Bewl Water where you can take a boat trip on the reservoir; the National Trust’s Ightham Mote, Chartwell or Knole House, or if you are looking for some adventure try Go Ape at Bedgebury Forest or Leeds Castle.
Home to Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame, pop along to its visitor centre in Faversham to try a few tipples and if you get the taste for local food and drink take a trip to the vineyards at Chapel Down in Biddenden or Hush Heath Estate in Tonbridge, or discover the delights at Brogdale’s National Fruit Collection.
Places to go
With a wealth of unspoilt beaches, captivating countryside, historic houses and vibrant culture, Sussex boasts picture postcard settings where you can enjoy wonderful walks, have exciting days out or learn something new.
There’s lots of family fun to be had along the Sussex coastline with the UK’s longest beach at Littlehampton, beautiful sandy dunes at Camber Sands and the lovely seaside town of Eastbourne with its pier, bandstand and dotto train, as well as Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park, Treasure Island and Fort Fun Super Splash Park. While in town, enjoy the sight of Beachy Head, Britain’s highest chalk sea cliff, as you go on a boat ride to the iconic lighthouse.Along the coast, Brighton offers its own fair share of traditional seaside fun too with a pier packed with funfair rides, the Sealife Centre and Brighton Karting. Plus marvel at the views from British Airways i360 or go shopping at Brighton Marina.
Having a rich and diverse history, you can take a trip back in time in Sussex to 1066 Country with a visit to Battle Abbey, housing the historic battleground and atmospheric abbey, or by visiting one of the castles built by William the Conqueror – Pevensey with its dark dungeons and Hastings, the ruins of which can still be visited.
While in the area learn about the history of smuggling at Smugglers Adventure – and if seafaring heritage captures your imagination then head to the Shipwreck Museum, the Fishermen’s Museum, the Napoleonic Redoubt Fortress in Eastbourne, Newhaven Fort, or take a trip to the village of East Dean, which has many historic stories of smuggling. While in Hastings pop along to the Blue Reef Aquarium or take a ride on the East Hill Cliff Railway and wonder at the beautiful views from the top of the cliff.
There’s lots more to be learnt about days gone by with a trip to one of the county’s many museums, including Amberley Museum near Arundel which is dedicated to preserving the industrial heritage of the South East and Arundel Museum, plus at Fishbourne Roman Palace in Chichester you can see the largest residential Roman building discovered in Britain.
Castles well worth a visit include Herstmonceux, the 14th century moated Bodiam Castle, Camber Castle in Rye which was built by Henry VIII, as well as Lewes Castle & Barbican House, home to the Museum of Sussex Archaeology.
Historic homes to put on your to-visit list include the Royal Pavilion in Brighton with its Indian architecture contrasted with interiors inspired by China, Anne of Cleves House Museum in Lewes where you can explore how the Tudors and Elizabethans lived, or the National Trust’s 17th century Jacobean house Batemans, home of Rudyard Kipling.
Sitting between the North and South Downs, the Sussex Weald has more gems to discover with the sprawling Ashdown Forest, the inspiration for the Winnie the Pooh books and home to Pooh Corner in Hartfield, as well as Ashdown Forest Llama Park. Outdoor fun can be had at Wilderness Wood and Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve. At the South Downs National Park you can travel by foot, bike or horseback along the 90-mile long South Downs Way.
Also in the Sussex Weald is Petworth House & Park with a 700-acre deer park and National Trust’s finest collection of art, and Seven Sisters Country Park.
With some of the finest landscaped gardens and parks in the UK, you will be spoilt for choice if visiting a garden is top of your list. At Michelham Priory House and Gardens near Hailsham you can see England’s longest medieval water filled moat surrounding the site which dates back to 1229. At Pashley Manor Gardens, Ticehurst, discover 11 acres of beautiful borders and vistas, while at Sheffield Park and Garden, there are acres of landscaped garden bordered by historic parkland and woodland as well as four lakes.
There’s also West Dean Gardens near Chichester, Standen House & Garden, in East Grinstead, Borde Hill Garden, in Haywards Heath or the National Trust’s Nymans and Wakehurst.
Get up close to nature at Castle Hill Nature Reserve with its rare early spider orchids and butterflies, while Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve has a great variety of habitats, plus there’s also Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and the botanical treasure trove at High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden.
Great days out for all the family can be found throughout the county and those with a love for animals can see their furry and feathered friends at Blackberry Farm, Middle Farm or Spring Barn Farm, all in Lewes, Drusillas Park Zoo, in Alfriston, Coombes Farm Experience in Lancing, Arundel Wetland Centre, or the animal rescue charity Raystede Centre For Animal Welfare in Ringmer.
Even more family fun can be found at Knockhatch Adventure Park in Hailsham with a petting farm, owl sanctuary centre and boating lake, Tilgate Park and Nature Centre (home to more than 500 animals) and Tulleys Farm, with its unique entertainment experiences. Or make a date to visit Paradise Park in Newhaven with its Planet Earth Museum, heritage train and playzone or call in at the Weald and Downland Living Museum with its rescued rural homes.
Spectacular hands-on science and discovery can be found at The Observatory Science Centre in Hailsham, or experience the magic of the night sky in comfort at South Downs Planetarium, Chichester.
Transport enthusiasts will enjoy a ride on the Kent and East Sussex or Bluebell railways or the Lavender Line in Isfield, while Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, in Chichester, has a unique collection of military aircraft and artefacts. Alternatively head to Goodwood, home of the festival of speed. While in Chichester visit its cathedral and if that inspires you then pop along to Arundel’s.
If you are looking for a little culture why not visit one of the county’s art galleries? Try Jerwood Gallery in Hastings – set to relaunch as Hastings Contemporary in the summer – De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, or Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne. Alternatively, take in a show at Chichester Festival Theatre or Glyndebourne opera house in Lewes.
The South Downs
A stunning range of chalk hills housing bustling market towns, picture perfect villages, ancient woodland and rolling hills with breathtaking views, the South Downs extends for around 260 square miles across the South East from the Itchen Valley of Hampshire in the west, through West Sussex and East Sussex to Beachy Head, in Eastbourne in the east.
The South Downs has become a National Park for so many reasons, including its diverse, inspirational landscapes, rich variety of wildlife and habitats, tranquil and unspoilt places, an environment shaped by centuries of farming, great opportunities for recreational activities and a rich cultural heritage – and on top of this it has also been designated as a National Character Area.
There is so much history to discover in the Park, with more than 5,000 listed buildings and 166 Conservation Areas many of which are situated in Lewes, Petworth and Midhurst, plus there are also dozens of historic villages to explore.
If you love the great outdoors then The South Downs is just the place for you, especially as its ethos is of being one of ‘Britain’s Breathing Spaces’.
Having more routes than any other National Park in the UK it offers 3,300km of footpaths, bridleways and byways with routes connected by pubs and places to enjoy an afternoon tea, plus, if after a day in the open you fancy spending the night in the great outdoors, head to Blackberry Wood campsite.
The 100-mile length of the South Downs Way offers panoramic views to the sea and across the weald and on your travels look out for The Long Man of Wilmington – a chalk carved figure in East Sussex.
Key places to visit if you’re heading to The South Downs include the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (one of the largest wetland conservation organisations in the world), Seven Sisters Country Park, the National Trust’s Woolbeding Gardens, plus RSPB Pulborough Brooks – a nature reserve with a great variety of habitats.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in culture stop off at Chichester Festival Theatre, or the world famous Glyndebourne for a spot of opera, or why not head to Jane Austen’s House Museum? – you may get some literary inspiration from the location where she wrote all of her books.
Home to many great attractions for all the family to enjoy, as well as rich history and culture, Surrey has plenty to discover in its vibrant market towns, picture postcard villages, rolling countryside and woodland. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were a million miles from the country’s capital rather than just a stone’s throw as you wander through its ancient heathland, waterways and scenic landscapes.
The county is also home to a specially protected area of countryside – the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – which runs from Farnham in the west to the border with Kent in the east. Popular with walkers is the North Downs Way, a national trail extending 153 miles where you can take in the spectacular scenery, stopping off at picturesque villages as you make your way through the rolling countryside.
Wildlife enthusiasts should take a trip to Bocketts Farm Park or Godstone Farm, where you can get up close to some of their furry or feathered residents or go on an Animal Encounter tour at Merrist Wood. Alternatively put a date in the diary to visit the British Wildlife Centre or pop along to Birdworld – Britain’s largest bird park and garden.
If you’re one for exploring a historic house then put Hampton Court and Loseley Park on your list, alongside the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey and Hatchlands Park. The county also has its fair share of castles at Guildford, Farnham and Reigate.Then discover more of its history at one of its many museums including Brooklands, Shere, Godalming and the Rural Life Centre or visit the internationally famous ancient site of the sealing of the Magna Carta in Runnymede.
Garden lovers will find some great locations to visit including Painshill, RHS Garden Wisley, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Savill Garden. While for those who love walking, Surrey has some of the most extensive footpath networks in the country as well as many mountain bike trails, plus road cyclists should try out the 2012 Olympic Cycle route up Box Hill.
Looking for some adventure? Then take a trip to Go Ape in Alice Holt, Wild Wood in Guildford or Skywalk Adventure near Esher.
Kent - © Visit Kent; © Visit Kent / British Tourist Authority
Sussex - © VisitBritain / Rod Edwards; © VisitBritain / Chris Gorman; © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett
The South Downs - © Visit Britain / Andrew Pickett
Surrey - © Visit Britain / Joanna Henderson