Tiptree Tea Room at The Courtyard, Saffron Walden
The Courtyard is a bright and airy tea room in Rose and Crown Walk just off the main square in Saffron Walden. Customers enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of this traditional tea room or on warmer days perhaps, sit outdoors in the sun-trap courtyard.
You’ll be spoilt for choice: every day except at Christmas The Courtyard offers full breakfast, a range of light lunches and very special Little Scarlet cream teas – with a glass of bubbly if you prefer! The daily ‘specials’ menu offers regular favourites such as ham, egg and special chunky chips as well as a great range of handmade dishes, gluten-free and vegetarian too.
Saffron Walden is one of those towns with a past, a place to wander the streets and byways and reflect on its history. Over the centuries the people of Saffron Walden have reported many mysterious happenings: one story tells of the ‘Basilisk Dragon’ which allegedly laid siege to the town. This awesome creature killed so many people that the town was becoming severely depopulated. As in all the best stories, a gallant wandering knight delivered the townspeople by covering his armour in crystal glass. On seeing its own reflection the monstrous dragon fell down dead and the town was saved.
Luckily, today there are no dragons and you can relax and enjoy this beautiful town. Tuesdays and Saturdays are the days to visit for the main square market, held here since 1141. Just a short stroll through Rose and Crown Walk, you will find The Common, the oldest of Saffron Walden’s open spaces. Look out especially for its turf labyrinth, the largest still surviving anywhere in Europe, situated on the eastern side of the common.
The Rose and Crown Walk, named after the Rose and Crown Inn, once served as that popular hostelry’s yard with stables and outbuildings for guests and staff. The inn, situated where Boots the chemists is now, was once a beautiful building known to attract the most prestigious of guests.
Some will tell a tale that even Shakespeare once performed at the Rose and Crown Inn, during a visit in 1606. Unfortunately due to a devastating fire in 1969 in which 11 persons died, the building and yard were completely destroyed. The fire is believed to have prompted the government to look at the whole structure of national fire safety legislation, and as a result, a new act was published in 1971.
After the fire, the owners Trust Houses Ltd decided they were going to sell the land and despite some local resistance, were not persuaded to reopen the Rose and Crown Inn. Once sold, the renovation of Rose and Crown Walk in 1973 meant that the passageways were made smaller - the need for deliveries of large barrels of wine and beer were no more. The Courtyard tea room is a relatively new development, situated in what was, before the fire, the former stables area. Previous to present The Courtyard tea room opening, there was a well-known eatery called Gluttons which started business around 15 years ago. Some regular customers still have fond memories of that cafe but appreciate the warm welcome afforded them today, whenever they care to drop in.
Visit The Courtyard. Saffron Walden is easily reached from London via the M11 (exit junction 8, initially follow the signs for A120 Hertford, then B1383 for Saffron Walden). If you are travelling from Cambridge, exit M11 at junction 10 and follow the signs to Saffron Walden (A505, A1301, B184). Parking is available in the common car park with a charge.