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Saturday, 11 August 2018

The Orchard - Grantchester

Grantchester's Orchard Tea Garden, just outside Cambridge, is something of a local institution.

A short and pleasant stroll from the edge of town by the river takes you through Grantchester Meadows to The Orchard.

The "Tea Gardens" are just what they say - a garden, with an orchard where you can sit with tea, cakes and light meals.

On a sunny summer's day, it is one of the nicest places to be in Cambridge; it's not bad in winter either, even if you have to sit inside.

The Orchard has been around for well over 100 years - it dates back to a time when students would punt up the river, moor and take tea and cakes. As The Orchard's website explains: The Orchard was first planted in 1868. One late spring morning in 1897, a group of Cambridge students asked Mrs Stevenson, of Orchard House, if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees, rather than as usual on the front lawn of her house, unaware that they were starting a great Cambridge tradition.

The students enjoyed their rural tea and word spread around the colleges. Very soon the Orchard became a popular upriver resort with students walking or cycling along the Grantchester Grind and through Grantchester Meadows, or by punting upstream on the River Granta.

Those who have taken tea at The Orchard include poet Rupert Brooke, author Virginia Woolf, economist Maynard Keynes and philosopher Bertrand Russell as well as Alan Turing (inventor of the computer), Ernest Rutherford (split the atom), Crick and Watson (discovered DNA), Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist,  cosmologist and author) and HRH Prince Charles (future King of  England).

Some visitors, however, are less welcome.

Late last Thursday, two men smashed in the door of the Orchard, stealing staff tips and about £500 of alcohol. This would be disappointing enough, but the damage done was around 10 times this amount at £5,000.

That's a big headache for a small local business, so in the words of food writer Tim Hayward: Go! Spend money.Don’t let the hoodied little shits win.

Well, precisely.

So, please, whilst the sun is shining (or even when it's not), do take a trip to The Orchard and spend a few pounds there on tea and cakes and help a local business keep its head above water a difficult time. You'll miss it when it's gone.

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