Shaftesbury is a town and civil parish in Dorset. It is situated on the A30 road, 20 miles west of Salisbury, near to the border with Wiltshire. It is the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset, being built about 215 metres (705 ft) above sea level on a greensand hill on the edge of Cranborne Chase.
The town looks over the Blackmore Vale, part of the River Stour basin. From different viewpoints, it is possible to see at least as far as Glastonbury Tor to the northwest.
Shaftesbury is the site of the former Shaftesbury Abbey, which was founded in 888 by King Alfred and became one of the richest religious establishments in the country, before being destroyed in the Dissolution in 1539. Adjacent to the abbey site is Gold Hill, the steep cobbled street made famous in the 1970s as the setting for Ridley Scott's television advertisement for Hovis bread.
In the 2011 census the town's civil parish had a population of 7,314.
I had been travelling around to South West with my close friend and karate colleague, Peter Manning looking for tea rooms. I was on business with Peter and in the evening would be teaching karate in Mere, Wiltshire.
Another fine example of an old English tea room, is the Kings Alfreds Kitchen in Shaftesbury with very low wide dark beams, open fires, dark table, little windows and lovely fun staff.
I had cauliflower cheese, with salad garnish and garlic bread. I would not generally eat garlic bread, but it came with the dish and unlike most I have tried in the past, this was great. Not too harsh, light garlic and was a very nice supplement to the cauliflower cheese dish. Of course, a pot of tea in awhite cup, white milk jug and white tea pot added to the pleasure.
There is also a display of old china cups and saucers in an old looking glass cabinet and other old items including a lovely clock decorating the tea room. Lights were not too harsh on the eye either, so this was a special place to get out of an hectic lifestyle for a while.
There was a display of cakes and light meals are offered alongside sandwiches.
I had also met a rather charming young boy, aged I guess around 11 years old with a older lady on the table next to ours. He said that his mother supplied free-range eggs to businesses on the South West and had over 6,000 chickens. Eventually, his mother arrived to join them and she confirmed what Josh had said to us.
I was so happy, as my favourite animal/bird is a chicken. I had asked Josh's mother what constitutes a free-range chicken and had a very interesting conversation about this. As she is a member of BFREPA, strict guidelines had to be followed. I am about to restock my chicken house, and this information was extremely valuable to me and I appreciated the advice.
I can recommend King Alfred's Kitchen. Car parking is difficult, but easy if you pay £1 for two hours parking in the near-by council run car park. (Parking may of increased since my last visit)
Contact Joe Ellis:
Joe Ellis' English Tea Room Guide PO Box 262, Herne Bay, Kent, England, CT6 9AW Telephone: 01227 376180