Take Afternoon Tea In Quarr Abbey’s Heavenly Garden
Quarr Abbey Farm Shop & Café, Ryde, Isle of Wight
Situated within 200 acres of pasture, woodlands, coastline and formal gardens, Quarr abbey is a place of peace, tranquillity and worship. In true monastic tradition, it’s also a hive of activity as the monks grow their own produce and keep pigs and hens.
If you’re arriving on the Isle of Wight via the Portsmouth to Wootton ferry, you’ll find that Quarr Abbey is just a 5 minute drive away. Pop in to buy groceries from its small Farm Shop or to enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake in its tranquil walled garden. Children will love feeding the pigs and walking the nature trail around the abbey’s extensive grounds. It’s the sort of place where, as soon as you turn in to its long tree-lined drive and see the sheep grazing in the fields, a feeling of calm washes over you.
The History of Quarr Abbey
In 1132, a Cistercian abbey was founded on the Island’s north-east coast. The abbey flourished here until 1546 when Henry VIII brought to an end Catholic religious worship in England. The stone was transported to the west side of the island to build Yarmouth Castle, one of Henry VIII’s new coastal forts leaving the ruins of the original abbey which still stand on the site today. Wander around and you’ll see a portion of the kitchen and refectory and the monks’ servery hatch.
Admire the Belgian Brickwork
In the 20th century, Benedictine monks came to the Island from France and commissioned the design of a new monastery and church next to the ancient ruins. It was built by Islanders using Belgian brick. During the Second World War, the Island’s emergency food supply was stored in the abbey’s cellars.
Enjoy a Heavenly Afternoon Tea
Sit in the garden and enjoy a delicious cream tea served with the abbey’s homemade jam. The monks are a productive bunch putting their land to good use and their hard work is visible all around. In the orchards, there are over 200 trees including old and local varieties of apples, pears and stone fruits. The apples are pressed for apple juice and still and sparkling ciders. The vegetable plots and polytunnels provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the kitchen and tea shop. There’s a wildflower meadow that was created to provide a pollen and nectar source for the many beehives, and chicken runs which are home to rescued ex-commercial hens who produce eggs for the abbey.
Feed the Pigs
It’s the pigs who are really the star of the show here though. Once you’ve finished your afternoon tea, they’ll love you if you buy bags of pig feed from the Farm Shop and pay them a visit.
Stock Up on Provisions at The Farm Shop
Shop for Quarr Abbey Ale, cider, apple juice, homemade jams & chutneys, honey, vegetables and eggs. The Farm Shop also stocks other Island products including Tipsy Wight fruit vodka (try the wild plum or the rhubarb & vanilla). Bakers can buy bags of flour from Calbourne Water Mill.
- Pick up Explorer Kits and do the Wildlife Trail and you might see the native red squirrel
- Guided tours of the abbey take place every first Tuesday of the month
- Buy membership of English Heritage and drive to the east coast to visit Yarmouth Castle. It provides a magnificent picnic spot with wonderful views over the Solent
Drizzle Quarr Abbey honey over a bowl of breakfast porridge or a summer salad of broad beans, radishes and feta cheese
Where to Stay on The Isle of Wight
Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Offering boutique rooms and a restaurant, Hillside has panoramic sea views with a Scandinavian feel.
Rooms from £156 a night.
They tell me that it’s Guide Dogs only.
How to Find Quarr Abbey
The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.