I’ve been meaning to recommend this place for a while, but had to get back there to check it out and make sure it was as good as I remembered.
The Tea House Theatre is hidden in plain sight in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, which are hidden in plain sight behind the Vauxhall Railway arches. The Tea House is, according to its website, “based in an old Victorian public house that opened in 1886 on the site of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens; immortalised as the ‘Vanity Fair’ in Thackeray’s eponymous novel.”
It wins bonus points for me as one of the few places in London devoted to tea. In fact, they have a decidedly anti-coffee policy – they don’t serve it, and won’t let you bring in your take away cup of it from any other establishment. A welcome change among the proliferation of coffee-based establishments around the city!
They have an impressive menu of teas, served by the pot, with elegantly mismatched cups and saucers (or, for the less refined among us, a good mug of Yorkshire tea!). There is also food available all day, including enormous slices of fabulous cakes and pies. Non-tea-based drinks include fruit juices, milkshakes, hot chocolate and alcoholic beverages.
The ‘Theatre’ part of the name is somewhat curtailed at the moment, though the ‘What’s On‘ page lists regular debate clubs and open-mic poetry nights, as well as a couple of dramatic performances. I’ve never yet made it to one of these, but I imagine they’re beautifully atmospheric – especially in winter with a roaring fire in the hearth. On the weekend closest to St George’s Day (23 April) they usually host a huge St George’s Day festival in the Pleasure Gardens, with falconry displays, sword fighting displays, performances, food, and activities for children (and adults who are young at heart).
They are dog-friendly (but beware of the cat, apparently!), child-friendly (“we have high chairs, a chest of toys, and milkshakes”) and creativity-friendly (I can’t see it on their website now, but they used to warmly invite local writers to spend their days their drinking tea and creating beautiful works of literature). They have board games you can play, daily newspapers you can read, and comfy armchairs you can relax in.
It is a delightful, friendly, quirky little place, and if you’re not quite ready to visit indoor places yet, there are tables outside to sit at nicely socially distanced from other germ-bearers.
What: While away an afternoon at the Tea House Theatre
Monday-Friday – 9.30am-10pm
Saturday – 9am-10pm
Sunday – 9.30am-10pm
How much: Teas cost from £5 to £9.50 per pot, Afternoon Tea for two is £25, for meal prices, check the menu.