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The Great House

Who doesn't love a fully laden cake stand? We tried Afternoon Tea at very handsome pub, The Great House in Hawkhurst. Pass me another macaroon!

THE LOWDOWN
Sometimes you want to meet a friend or the mother-in-law for a catch up cuppa somewhere nice, but without splashing out on a big meal or long lunch. That’s when Afternoon Tea hits the spot perfectly. Another macaroon? Don’t mind if I do!
But it’s not just trendy cafés, garden centres or historical homes that offer them. I recently discovered one of my favourite cosy pubs, The Great House, does an impressive menu.
So I squeezed in a trip just before school pick up (slave to the job) that fuelled me in advance of the evenings’ obligatory sports clubs/homework marathon.
THE LOCATION
The Great House is a country pub found just outside Hawkhurst, in the heart of the Kentish weald. It’s sitting pretty with a white weather-boarded exterior and cute beer garden out back.
THE VIBE
Like all the Elite pubs The Great House, is a rather handsome pub with stylish interiors – and down-to-earth, decent pub fare.
It’s got a good reputation for its Sunday roasts, which include Traditional Sirloin of English Beef, Rosemary infused Leg of English Lamb, Gammon or Nut Roast. All served with the usual sides. Decent children’s menu too and a Wood Fired Soughdough pizza oven (see below) – so a firm family favourite.
The pub has lots of great pockets of space – a relaxed, but smart bar area with tables for food – which, when we visited, was impressively buzzy for 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon. My friend, Suzie, and I ate in the more restauranty area, over-looking the pub garden. Think wooden floors, high ceiling – light, bright and colourful.
SCOFF & QUAFF
So to the Afternoon Tea! We started ours with a glass of Prosecco (this is optional). As a working mum this is not a normal afternoon indulgence for me (er, no sniggering please – it’s true!). But we were celebrating, so bring it on.
The tea is presented traditionally on tiered plates and consists of a selection of finger sandwhiches (Kentish ham & English mustard, Free range egg mayonnaise & watercress, Scottish smoked salmon & lime crème fraîche, cucumber & cream cheese. Alongside traditional plain & fruit scones, Tiptree jam, Cornish clotted cream, Lemon, lime & orange cake, strawberry tart and Chocolate muffin & macaroons.
The scones were warm and delicious – the sandwiches fresh and far too easily eaten. All the food was a real treat actually (there’s always something so indulgent about this extra meal in the day, isn’t there?!)
All served with unlimited tea and coffee (see below).
 THE COST
The Traditional Afternoon Tea costs £20 per person. (Add a glass of Prosecco for £6pp).
KID-FRIENDLY?
Most definitely from the Kids Menu to the pizza oven this place is great for families. And I would have felt very comfortable including them in the Afternoon Tea celebrations had it been in the school holidays.
OUT AND ABOUT
This pub is well positioned. Here you’re surrounded by plenty of great walks and dogs are welcome – with blankets, water bowls and doggy treats available. Perfectly located for a day out – why not visit near by Bewl Water or Bedgebury Forest first to work up an appetite?
Or check out this link on The Great House website for a suggestion of walks that start and finish at the pub (they really have thought of everything). Then hoover up the menu (you’ve earned it).
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Girlie get-togethers, or somewhere to take granny; laid-back lunchers; big group diners; sunny day trippers (cute beer garden, remember); families hoping to find a pub that won’t be too ‘on ceremony’ to put up with their children. A down-to-earth launch pad for exploring the area.
Not for: Anyone looking for the sedate and serene Afternoon Tea experience – this is a lovely pub but not a country manor house. No pretentious pinky-fingers in the air here!
The Great House, Hawkhurst, TN18 5EJ, 01580 753119, elitepubs.com

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