York and Bettys Café Tea Rooms

While I’m a long way from being considered cosmopolitan, traveling in Europe over the last few years has changed my perspective on the world and my appreciation of other cultures. Even the Tour de France feels different to me now. Not that I had watched it in recent years after all those scandals. But my trips to France this year (more on that in future posts!) and England in 2013 have compelled me to tune in a few times, both for the race and for the atmosphere and scenery. The second stage was of particular interest since it started in York, England, the final city that we visited last year and home to the famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms.

Betty's - York

Located in northern England, about 200 miles from London and a couple of hours away by train, York was founded by the Romans in the first century and over the next thousand years served as an important city for Anglo-Saxons, early Christians, Vikings, and Normans. Its significance continued to grow during the medieval period.

York has several museums focusing on different aspects of its history, and many buildings and structures remain from various eras, including:

  • The medieval City Walls and gates (known as bars). The well-preserved walls circle the city center and can be walked, with a few gaps along the way.
  • The Multangular Tower (left), part of which is an original Roman structure, and Clifford’s Tower, a remnant of the medieval York Castle.
  • Medieval houses and streets, including Goodramgate (left) and The Shambles.
  • And the most famous site, York Minster.

As one of Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals, York Minster takes a couple of hours to explore, with stained glass windows, religious artifacts, monuments, an undercroft, a tower, and more. (The Great East Window remains under restoration until 2016.)

And just a short walk from York Minster is Bettys Café Tea Rooms.

Swiss immigrant Frederick Belmont opened the original Bettys Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate in 1919, with the York café, now the flagship, opening in 1937 in St. Helen’s Square. Apparently the identity of “Betty” remains a mystery. (To read more, visit Bettys’ website.)

There are three ways to enjoy Bettys in York: the flagship location, which was our choice; the more upscale Art Deco Belmont Room, which has a separate entrance; and a smaller café on nearby Stonegate. We learned of Betty’s through our travel guidebooks, which said that there would be a line. And there was.

Betty's line - York

On the day of our visit, the line moved quickly. Many people chose to sit in the windowless lower level, known during World War II as Bettys Bar (for a story about the Bar, click here). We waited for an opening on the main floor and were seated within 15 minutes.

Bettys Café Tea Rooms offers a varied menu (click here for links to the menus). Dorene ordered her usual Afternoon Tea.

Dorene’s Assessment

  • Tea – Bettys Tea Room Blend, a non-flavored black tea described as a “traditional rich blend of top-class African and Assam teas.” Tea was served with extra hot water, always a plus.
  • Sandwiches – There were four on brown and white bread: salmon, ham, chicken, and egg & mayo. All were very good.
  • Scones – A medium-sized sultana scone served with strawberry jam, Yorkshire clotted cream, and separate serving spoons for each! As I mentioned in a previous post, using the same utensil bothers me because, as a jam-first person, I feel bad about sullying the cream. Dorene does cream first, so it matters less. Anyway, the scone had some substance and flavor, and it was not too sweet. “Sultana” was a new word for me. It refers to the fruit: raisins from white or pale green seedless grapes.
  • Pastries – This doesn’t happen often, but the scone was not Dorene’s favorite part. The fruit tart, mini-cake, and especially the lemon macaroon (a bit hidden in the above picture) were winners, an unexpected result.
  • Decor – Decorated in the Art Nouveau style, the windows are the highlight. A tree motif runs along the sides and top, reflected inside by mirrors. A high shelf of teapots identifies this as a tea room.
  • Service – Polite and efficient staff. However, the wait for the food was long. Fortunately, the desserts alone made the wait worthwhile.
  • Atmosphere – With a crowd packed into the large, bustling room, there was little atmosphere to complement the food and decor.
  • Overall rating

    Wonderful Experience
    Wonderful Experience

 

Diane’s Thoughts

Dessert at Betty's

While waiting in line to be seated, I had time to study the cake menu. That’s when I decided to order a light lunch of soup and bread so that I could indulge in a Chocolate and Raspberry St. Honoré. It looks small in this picture, but each bite of chocolate, raspberry, cream, and pastry produced a series of delights. Sadly, it is not listed as an option on the 2014 Summer Menu.

During the wait for food, I did enjoy the chance to look around and appreciate the effect of the windows and mirrors. While Bettys Café Tea Rooms may not have the sense of character that we encountered in other tea rooms, its history, decor, and food created a wonderful experience.

Side Hop

Along with York, Harrogate (home of the original Bettys) also hosted the Tour de France, providing the finish line for stage one (Le Grand Départ). Of course the English found a way to celebrate the rare appearance of the Tour de France in their country with…tea. Bettys is part of a larger firm called Bettys & Taylors Group, and one of their brands, Yorkshire Tea, served as Official Tea Partner of Le Grand Départ and created a commemorative tea, or rather Thé, for the event.

Yorkshire The

Apparently, the fans loved it. I saw posts on Twitter from people looking for the tea, and according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, it has even sold on eBay. I think the U.S. should take note!

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Sightseeing in Bath and Cream Tea at The Bath Bun

During our visit to England in 2011, Dorene and I experienced a week and a half of rain-free days. Not so in 2013. While the rain was not constant on our first day in Bath, showers would be followed by sunshine before another cluster of clouds would blow in with more rain. And there was wind. At least the weather gave us a perfect excuse to visit two of Bath’s tea rooms in one day — not that an excuse would ever be needed!

While we spent some time indoors (visiting Bath Abbey and the shops in Guildhall, where we each bought a much needed scarf), most of our sightseeing on this adventurous weather day was outdoors. We walked through the Parade Gardens during one of the sunny breaks. Non-residents must pay a small entrance fee, which is unfortunate but worth it. With beautiful plants and flowers, interesting statues and monuments, lovely views, and a few surprises (an old pet cemetery!), the Parade Gardens offer a wonderful outdoor experience.

Bath also has City Sightseeing hop on/off buses with two routes from April to October. The City Tour passes by or near most of the tourist attractions. Since Bath is walkable, the bus is not necessary for anyone comfortable with walking the slightly hilly streets. Instead, we used the City Tour as a convenient introduction to Bath. The other bus tour, the Skyline Tour, travels out to the surrounding hills. The lovely views of the hills and the city offer a wonderful sense of Bath’s architectural beauty as well as its place in the bucolic Cotswolds. While the exposed, slightly wet top deck of the bus gave us the best vantage point, the wind up in the hills could be fierce.

The Skyline Tour ended a few blocks behind the Roman Baths. There we found St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on a quiet side street, South Parade. The church celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013, and while it does not have the historical significance of Bath Abbey, the beautiful and quiet interior has several highlights, including the altar, stained glass windows, and memorials for both World Wars. Like many Bath buildings, it suffered damage during the bombings in World War II and was subsequently restored. The church has Bath’s tallest spire, and later in the day, the crazy weather rewarded us with a rainbow over the spire.

Rainbow over St John's spire

After leaving St. John’s, Dorene decided that it was a good time for tea. Earlier in the day we had enjoyed afternoon tea at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, so now we were in search of cream tea. Down a side street near the Roman Baths we arrived at Abbey Green, which has a small green with a very large plane tree that was planted more than 200 years ago. In one of the buildings surrounding the green we found The Bath Bun. While we did not order a bath bun, which is a type of sweet roll, The Bath Bun’s website includes a bit of history about the treat.

Dorene’s Assessment

Photo by Dorene
Cream Tea at The Bath Bun. Photo by Dorene.
  • Tea – There was a good selection of tea. Dorene ordered Lapsang Souchong, and it was served with additional hot water to add to the teapot, which Dorene always appreciates in case she wants more tea.
  • Scones – There was a choice of fruited and plain, and Dorene chose the plain. The large scone was not too sweet and was served with Wilkin & Sons Ltd strawberry jam and clotted cream topped with a tiny strawberry. The scone was excellent, and I love how it looks in the picture above!
  • Service – The servers were pleasant and dressed in black and white maids outfits. Service was quick.
  • Atmosphere – There were two floors, and we were seated at one of the few tables on the ground floor. With the takeout counter, cash register, and door nearby, there was plenty of activity, but it was not too distracting.
  • Decor – Pretty place settings, flowery table cloths, and wooden chairs all invoked a pleasing sense of the English countryside.
  • Overall rating

    Wonderful Experience
    Wonderful Experience

Diane’s Thoughts

While I would not have minded eating scones twice in one day, a list of tea cakes on the wall caught my attention as soon as I entered. Chocolate sponge cake was one of the options, and while not my preferred cake style, I could not resist. The lightness of the cake was actually very enjoyable, as was the chocolate flavor.

Our table on the ground floor offered the chance for some people watching, an interesting activity, especially when traveling. Among the unexpected sights for me: five men in their twenties and thirties who stopped in for tea. Dressed in jeans and sweatshirts or t-shirts, the men had a ruggedness about them, and two were so undaunted by the weather that they were wearing short sleeves, which revealed tattoos covering their arms. I loved these guys! They illustrated that despite its aristocratic origins, afternoon tea has a universal appeal. As I continue with my journey into the world of tea, I enjoy the traditions, but I also appreciate that the tea-drinking culture is about far more than expensive tastes, formal rules, and dress codes. There’s also room for tattooed men and novices like me.

Side Hop

We would return to Abbey Green a couple of times, including once as part of an evening comedy walk called Bizarre Bath. A combination magic and comedy show that moves at a leisurely pace around the center of Bath, it’s unlike anything I had attended before. With a suspension of disbelief and a willingness to laugh at silliness, the 90-minute show (there are no shows during the winter) is worth £8.

More traditional and expensive entertainment is at the Theatre Royal, where we went to see the Noël Coward play Relative Values.

Photo by Dorene

Our seats were on the right side of the royal circle (equivalent to mezzanine level), with a good view of the stage. Originally built in 1805, the building was destroyed by fire in 1862, rebuilt in a year, and then renovated in the 1980s.

Bizarre Bath and Noël Coward on consecutive nights: an unusual but entertaining example of what Bath has to offer.

Visiting Bath and the Mad Hatters Tea Party

When Dorene and I stayed in London in 2011, we ventured outside the city for a day on a bus tour to Bath, Stonehenge, and Salisbury Cathedral. This seemed like the perfect way to visit some of England’s most famous sites, but our plan had one problem. We didn’t realize that the schedule for Bath would allow time for only a tour of the Roman Baths, a brief glance at some of the buildings, and lunch. This was not a satisfying experience of Bath. Disappointed by all that we missed, we decided in 2013 to enjoy Bath properly over three days.

View of Bath from the Parade Gardens. Photo by Dorene

Bath is about 100 miles west of London, and we traveled by train from Paddington Station, a trip that lasted just under 1.5 hours and included many scenic views of the countryside. Located at the Southern end of the Cotswolds, Bath was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 for its cultural significance. (To read about our earlier visit to the Cotswolds, click here.) Like the rest of the Cotswolds, the buildings were constructed from locally mined stone, in this case a type of limestone known as Bath stone. As a dense city on the slope of a hill, the uniformity of the cream-colored buildings creates a memorable impression.

View of Bath from North Parade Bridge. Photo by Dorene
View of Bath from North Parade Bridge. Photo by Dorene

Bath has almost everything that Dorene and I hope to experience when we travel:

  • Historical sites – Including the nearly 2,000-year-old Roman Baths, Georgian-era buildings (the Circus and Royal Crescent), the reconstructed Assembly Rooms (destroyed during World War II), and more.
  • Religious buildings – Bath Abbey, St. John the Evangelist Church, and a few other interesting churches.
  • Literary significance – Jane Austen! (Check back in December for much more about our Jane experiences in Bath.)
  • Museums – Along with the Holburne Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery, we also visited the Fashion Museum and a unique industrial place called the Museum of Bath at Work.
  • Photo opportunities and general sightseeing – Bath is enjoyably walkable, and bus tours within and outside the city provide additional vantage points for seeing the sights.
  • Evening entertainment – We saw a play at the Theater Royal (Noel Coward’s Relative Values) and also experienced something completely different, the Bizarre Bath comedy walk (I’ll try to describe this in a future post).
  • Shopping – Bath has typical chain stores, souvenir shops, and a mall, and also plenty of independent and local businesses, including those in Guildhall Market, the Corridor, and on Pulteney Bridge.
  • Tea and scones (of course) – On our final day in the city, we discovered what would turn out to be our favorite tea room of all the ones we visited in England (I’ll share this experience in December).

During our brief visit to Bath two years earlier, we had rushed through afternoon tea at a little restaurant with an Alice in Wonderland theme. We decided to revisit the place and enjoy it at a relaxed pace. Remembering little about it, we knew that it was somewhere behind Bath Abbey.

In a compact city with buildings made from the same colored stone, Bath Abbey stands out as a dominating structure that serves as a beacon from various vantage points. Once the site of a monastery dating to the 8th century, a Norman cathedral was built there in the 11th and 12th centuries. After the Bishop’s seat moved from Bath to Wells in the 13th century, the building slowly began to decay. The current building, a parish church rather than a cathedral, was started in 1499. This was not good timing. With religious upheaval soon arriving, the building again fell into ruin. After being salvaged in the early 17th century, significant restorations occurred in the 19th century and late 20th century. For its history, stained glass windows, interior and ceiling, monuments, memorials, wall tablets, and even contemporary artwork, Bath Abbey provides a worthy opportunity for a leisurely stroll.

Dorene at Bath Abbey
Dorene outside Bath Abbey

Behind Bath Abbey (the East End), there is a small circular park called the Orange Grove. Could there really be an orange grove in England? A nearby sign cleared up this question for me. It was named for the Prince of Orange to commemorate his visit to Bath in 1734.

In the building seen in the photo on the left, we found the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

Outside sign and seating area. Photo by Dorene
Outside sign and seating. Photo by Dorene

There are only four tables inside, two on each side of the door, and a few more outside. Given that it was a cool day with off and on rain showers, sitting outside was not an option. There was one available table inside, so we sat down to order Afternoon Tea for Two.

Dorene’s Assessment

Afternoon tea at the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Photo by Dorene
Afternoon Tea for Two at the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Photo by Dorene
  • Tea – Standard, enjoyable tea fare.
  • Sandwiches – Afternoon tea usually includes a few varieties of finger sandwiches, but at the Mad Hatters Tea Party, we each had to chose one sandwich. There were multiple options listed above the counter, which caused us a bit of confusion as we tried to decide which ones to order, finally selecting one with chicken and one with brie. The sandwiches were served on soft, thick white or brown bread, and the quality of both sandwiches was excellent. However, as an afternoon tea traditionalist, Dorene would have preferred finger sandwiches. With scones still to eat, we did not finish the sandwiches.
  • Scones – Medium-sized with plenty of cream and jam. They were not too sweet, which is how Dorene prefers scones.
  • Service – Quick and efficient.
  • Atmosphere – The small space is slightly uncomfortable, but there is an enjoyable brightness and color throughout the room.
  • Decor – The many decorations relate to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books or to the spirit of the books, including backwards clocks, a trick teapot, and reproductions of John Tenniel’s illustrations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (there are just a few references to the 1951 Disney film). The plates and teapots coordinate nicely with the theme. Visit the Mad Hatters Tea Party website for photos of the decorations inside.
  • Overall Rating

    Good place to visit
    Good place to visit

Diane’s Thoughts

As part of my ongoing initiation into the world of afternoon tea, I discovered what now seems obvious: I should not expect traditional afternoon tea at a place that pays homage to the unconventional world of Wonderland, the Mad Tea Party, and the Hatter.

The Hatter

Many tea rooms in England and the U.S. are named “The Mad Hatters (or Hatter’s) Tea Party.” Technically the term “Mad Hatter” never appears in the Alice books, although the Cheshire Cat does describe the Hatter as mad. And the Mad Tea Party occurs in front of the March Hare’s house, not the Hatter’s.

A Mad Tea Party

No matter. It’s the Mad Hatter who has survived in popular culture, and his tea party continues to inspire and delight. While there may be more traditional and comfortable places for afternoon tea, the Mad Hatters Tea Party in Bath is worth visiting for its tribute to Lewis Carroll’s books.

Even the small space may bring to mind Alice’s tendency to find herself not quite the right size.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrations from www.alice-in-wonderland.net.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrations from www.alice-in-wonderland.net.

Side Hop

Not far from the Mad Hatters Tea Party and Orange Grove is Grand Parade, which offers views of the River Avon. Since the original meaning of the word “avon” is river, several unconnected rivers in England ended up with the same redundant name.

Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon. Photo by Dorene
Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon. Photo by Dorene

Apropos of the unconventional, the bridge crossing the river in this photo is Pulteney Bridge, one of only four bridges in the world lined with shops.

Shops on Pulteney Bridge. Photo by Dorene
Shops on Pulteney Bridge. Photo by Dorene

While the bridge has architectural significance and adds to the beauty of viewing the river against the backdrop of the buildings, having only four of these bridges in the world sounds just right to me. Our inn was on the other side of the bridge, so we crossed it several times each day. Most of the time I forgot that I was walking on a bridge. Of course this illusion makes the architectural achievement even more remarkable, and without question Pulteney Bridge works as a tourist attraction. In most cities, though, I would prefer to feel the experience of walking over a river and enjoy views of water winding through a city.

Tea Along the River Windrush

Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed. –Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog (part 2 of quote)

Visiting English country houses was one of the themes that Dorene had proposed for our travels in England in 2013. If this brings to mind a quaint English cottage nestled in a bucolic landscape, well…not quite. Dorene was talking about the ancestral homes of dukes and earls, houses with wondrous designs, architecture, interiors, furniture, artwork, and landscapes that would help to define aristocratic families for centuries. Still, the quaint English cottage has an authentic appeal, and we were fortunate on our second day in England to experience both types of country living. A full-day bus tour out of London brought us to the grandeur of Blenheim Palace and the picturesque scenery of the Cotswolds.

The final stop on our tour was Blenheim Palace. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the historical significance of its architecture and landscape, Blenheim Palace is home to the Duke of Marlborough and notable as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

Afternoon tea is served at Blenheim Palace, but we would not have had enough time for it. Bus tours carry the risk of unpredictability, and our tour was no exception. Between traffic delays caused by road construction and a tardy tour member whom the guide did not want to leave stranded, we had limited time to explore the house, gardens, grounds, and gift shop. Fortunately, we had already stopped for tea in the Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds are a range of hills west-northwest of London, about 2 hours away. Our tour guide translated the word to mean “sheep farms in the hills,” although some websites suggest that “Cot” refers to Cod, a 12th-century Anglo-Saxon chieftain. (By the way, our tour guide was not really a guide. He shared some facts and history, set the timetable, took lunch orders, and arranged tickets. Otherwise, we were on our own at each stop.) Among the facts that he shared: While 60% of England is made up of farms, 80% of the Cotswolds is farmland. The region has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the bus tour rewarded us with views of expansive fields, rolling hills, grazing animals, and, of course, Cotswolds cottages, all made from stone that was mined in local quarries. (For a comprehensive website about the Cotswolds, visit Cotswolds.info.)

Our first stop was the village of Bibury, with highlights including Arlington Row, a series of cottages that originally stored wool and were later converted to weaver’s cottages; a water meadow; the River Coln; “oreo” cows; and other picturesque scenes.

Next we visited Burford, which was once named by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 10 places in Europe to live. A highlight for tourists is the church of St. John the Baptist.

The third village that we visited was Bourton-on-the-Water. With stone buildings overlooking the River Windrush and several footbridges crossing the river, Bourton-on-the-Water is sometimes referred to, with a touch of imagination, as the Venice of the Cotswolds or Little Venice. This is where we had tea.

The River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water, with the Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms in the background (left of center). Photo by Dorene
The River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water. Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms are in the background center/left. Photo by Dorene

Lunch had been served earlier at The Mermaid, a pub in Burford, so we were not looking for the full afternoon tea experience. We just wanted a snack, or more properly, “cream tea”: a pot of tea and a scone. This was not a challenge. Everywhere you turn in Bourton-on-the-Water, a tea room is in sight. The one we chose, the Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms, happened to be in front of us when we decided to stop for tea.

The Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms in Bourton-on-the-Water. Photo by Dorene
The ice cream window at the Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms in Bourton-on-the-Water. Photo by Dorene

Dorene obviously wanted to order cream tea, and a server waited on her as soon as we entered. When the server asked whether we would like to sit inside or outside, “outside” flew out of my mouth before I remembered that I needed to check with Dorene. Inside was her preference. The afternoon was cool and breezy, not ideal conditions for eating a scone. Besides, Dorene felt satisfied that she had seen and photographed enough of the Cotswolds. All that remained for her was to have tea and then finally move on to Blenheim Palace.

Dorene’s Assessment

Cream Tea at the Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms. Photo by Dorene
Cream Tea at the Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms. Photo by Dorene
  • Tea – Enjoyable, standard tea fare.
  • Scone – There were three options for flavored scones, but no plain scone, Dorene’s preference. She chose the fruited scone, and fortunately there was not too much fruit. The scone was extra large and fluffy with good volume. As at Selfridges, the scone was a little sweet. Dorene is more accustomed to U.S. scones, which are less sweet. The clotted cream and jam were in containers: Rodda’s Classic Cornish Clotted Cream and Robertson’s jam, which both seem to be popular brands in England.
  • Service – Friendly staff. The tea and scone were brought to the table within a minute or two.
  • Atmosphere – Pleasant and peaceful. We were seated alone in the front room, near the door and windows. There were people in the back room and at the tables outside by the river. It was worth sitting inside for the comfortable environment.
  • Decor – There was a pretty French/Provence theme to the decor, with both natural and artificial plants and flowers. The tea room must also serve as an art gallery, because the paintings on the walls were for sale. There were additional paintings on the floor resting along the walls.
  • Overall grade – A-

Diane’s Thoughts

Now I must make a confession. Unlike Dorene, I sometimes stray from the purpose of the Tea and Scone Hop by failing to order tea and scones. I could claim that I want the blog to include other options available at tea rooms, but in reality my devotion to tea and scones still needs to grow.

During the bus tour, our tour guide had mentioned three times that we would be able to get Winstones (pronounced Winstons by the guide) Cotswold Ice Cream in Bourton-on-the-Water. When I discovered that the Green and Pleasant Tea Rooms carried it, I could not resist. I ordered chocolate ice cream, which was served in a plain cone and produced an extra delight: It had chocolate chunks as well.

If I had committed myself to drinking tea, either within the lovely tea room itself or outside in the cool breeze beside a river named Windrush, would I have approached the noble and spiritual experience Muriel Barbery depicts in the quote at the top of this post? Probably not, mainly because we were part of a bus tour, where time is of the essence, not sublimed. Still, even though I was only an observer, I was able to appreciate the quiet pleasure that the tea experience brings, especially when sitting in a quaint English village and not next to a department store escalator.

Side Hop

While I was still deciding what to order (there were also cookies to tempt me), an older couple came in and requested two scones to go. The server asked whether they wanted clotted cream and jam, and the gentleman responded, “What is a scone without jam? Or ‘scon,’ as my mother used to say.” The server noted that she always pronounced it as “scone” (rhymes with “stone”), although the alternate pronunciation made sense to me since our tour guide had pronounced “Winstones” as “Winstons.” (Keep in mind, these people are all speaking with British accents.)

I checked the OED, and both pronunciations are correct. I was curious whether the pronunciation varied by region and found this definition, which indicates that the “scon” pronunciation is associated with northern England and the working class, while what I thought was the standard pronunciation of “scone” is associated with the south and the middle class. However, the OxfordWords blog on the same website has a post How do you pronounce scone? that tells a different story.

According to a poll they did, a slight majority of the respondents from the United Kingdom voted for “scon,” while Americans overwhelmingly favored the pronunciation that rhymes with “stone.” Several British commenters, but not all, insisted that “scon” was the correct pronunciation. One commenter even invoked Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song to make his case. Yes, Monty Python.

So a simple pronunciation inquiry triggered by a kind British gentleman in a Cotswolds tea room ended up leading me to watch TWO versions of an imaginary, tea-drinking, scone-eating (or rather “scon”-eating) lumberjack who sings about cross-dressing. So much for the spiritual side of drinking tea. I’ll include a link to one version of the song on my Twitter feed on the right side of the blog, but be warned, it is typical Monty Python.

As for “scon” or “scone,” I’m definitely going to stick with the American pronunciation.