Jesmond Dene House afternoon teas have just broken the 110,000 barrier. This means an awful lot of us are enjoying an awful lot of tea and cake…

Since opening 11 years ago, Newcastle’s leading independent hotel has served up over 110,000 afternoon teas. The traditional afternoon ‘snack’ of finger sandwiches, scones and cream, plus miniature cakes served on a tiered plate-stand, is now the hotel’s most popular meal.rsz_pap_0005_jesmond_dene_newcastle_

To celebrate, the hotel commissioned renowned – and north-east-based – cartoonist David Haldane to capture the spirit of afternoon tea in a cartoon that now hangs at the entrance to the hotel. As a further celebration, a prize of afternoon tea for two is being offered to the person who comes up with the best caption. The competition can be entered via the hotel’s Facebook page, which also shows the cartoon.*

David, who is one of The Times newspaper’s regular cartoonists, won’t be drawn on whether any of the depicted figures are actual guests at the hotel – other than to say he enjoys watching people, and enjoys the hotel’s afternoon tea.rsz_pap_0013_jesmond_dene_newcastle_

The most recognisable figure in the cartoon is Kristian Branch, the hotel’s head pastry chef, who has been with Jesmond Dene House since its early days. “We were one of the first places in the area to do a proper afternoon tea, making everything in-house. And we continue to make everything in the kitchens, including the jams,” he says. “I think one of the reasons afternoon tea has become so popular is because, in a world of fast food and eating on-the-go, it’s a meal where you’re positively encouraged to be lazy and take your time! Plus people like the fact it’s a bit old-fashioned.”rsz_afternoon_tea_1_jesmond_dene_newcastle_

At Jesmond Dene House afternoon tea is a relaxed affair; you can order it anytime between midday and 5pm (slightly shorter hours at weekends) and choose to eat in the bar, the lounge, the dining room – even on the terrace on sunny days. Over 15,000 afternoon teas are served each year, around triple the number of its early years.

The meal is proving just as popular at sister property, St Mary’s Inn, near Stannington, where there is also a copy of the cartoon on display.

* To enter the competition, go to https://www.facebook.com/jesmonddenehouse. Entries must be submitted by midnight on Sunday 25th September 2016 and will be judged by David Haldane and Nicky Sherman, PR and Media Manager for Jesmond Dene House and St Mary’s Inn. The judges’ decision is final. The winner will receive a complimentary afternoon tea for two people which can be taken at either Jesmond Dene House or St Mary’s Inn.

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