Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Battle: Pilgrims Rest

On a recent jaunt to Battle to meet up with my Mum, we had a wander down the high street to search out a promising tearooms for a place to sit down and have a good natter. Battle is a town we don't normally visit but it has some lovely independent shops along with some fab little places to grab a tea or coffee. 

Towards the end of the high street, right next to Battle Abbey sits the Pilgrims Rest. Dating back to 1420, this magnificent Norman building is one of the oldest properties in Battle, said to be haunted by a Monk and with a secret passage under the fireplace to the Abbey. How could we resist!

Padding down a path fringed with luxuriously unruly lavender bushes giving off a delicious aroma, we entered through the enormous oak door. Once inside, the building is even more imposing as you walk into a huge hall. It's easy to imagine this place filled with pilgrims who had come to visit the Abbey and Battlefield, site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, which was the purpose of this building. 

I can imagine sitting in this great hall in mid Winter all cosy and warm with the log fire burning. This large but practical fireplace allegedly houses a secret passage under the iron hearth which leads to the Abbey gatehouse. They hope to investigate it soon, very Famous Five! 

Anyway, secret passages aside, we admired the cakes on offer - coffee and walnut, carrot, lemon drizzle, Victoria sponge along with plain and cheese and onion scones and meringues. All homemade on site in the kitchen just through the back and presented well. 

Although the great hall has seating we wanted to enjoy the sun and take in the view of the Abbey. Picking up some menus, we headed back out to the courtyard to find a table in the sun.

Spindly cream metal chairs with tables draped in vinyl green gingham pepper the courtyard area, surrounded by delicious lavender hedges alive with bumble bees. Studying the menus, we decided on our choices as a young waiter scribbled it down in his book.

Popular with holiday makers, even at 4.30 pm this tearooms was busy. Having such a great location smack bang next to the Abbey must help lure hungry passers by in. Our view of the Abbey behind the explosion of lavender was a highlight of our visit.

Our order arrived a while later, Assam tea for moi, English Breakfast for mum and an Orchard Pig Cider for him. I shared a toasted teacake with mum whilst he went for a plain scone. We had to go inside to retrieve some knives and I was disappointed that the butter was in tiny packets. The Cider apparently was very good as was the scone, which he just had with butter. Our toasted teacake was OK but nothing special and didn't taste very homemade. I really wished I had gone for a slice of the scrummy looking cake. 

Nevertheless we really enjoyed our afternoon out and I would recommend coming here for a a piece of cake and tea. There is plenty of seating both inside and out, a loo and a great view.

The Verdict?
A great spot to stop for a cup of tea and cake. It will be very touristy during the school holidays as Battle is such a famous place to visit but that is now nearly at an end. A lovely tearooms with plenty of seating for all weathers, great view of the Abbey Gatehouse and reasonable prices.

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