It was hot today. One of those “I’m not really sure what to do” sort of days, so after a morning spent pottering around the house doing boring things like the washing and writing to the tax office; I thought it’d be nice to have a bit of a treat with Mr PP who has been working very hard of late. Being as it was so warm I didn’t much fancy a really busy country pub or something, but I remembered that I had seen some posts on social media sites about the Burton Mill Tea Room near Petworth. They don’t have a website but you can find them on Twitter @burton_mill for updates on what is happening there.
Tea and cake await…
The hamlet of Burton is deep in the South Downs and is very rural indeed with quaint cottages dotted about along the road – I say cottages using the term very loosely as they generally don’t resemble the tiny labourers homes they were originally; instead extensions, Farrow and Ball paint jobs and massive 4X4 cars on the driveways are the order of the day. Still this is the reality of 21st century country living.
Burton Mill Tea Room, West Sussex
Standing below road level opposite the Burton Mill Pond, the tea room is a renovated and converted water mill. It has what is generally known as “bags of character” and is entered by way of a set of very steep iron stairs.
Steep stairs to the tea room
Looking down shows exactly how steep the stairs are!
Once inside the room itself is not overly large but is cool, slightly dark and attractively furnished in a vintage style. For those who like old buildings there are various quirky features and some interesting period building detailing to be seen.
Inside the Burton Mill Tea Room
On entering there is a counter to the right of the door with a selection of cakes freshly baked and also a small area selling vintage ephemera.
Tea and cake counter
Vintage ephemera for sale
Staffed by two lovely ladies the service was fast and friendly and we were made to feel very welcome.
Tea and cake
At each table is a card with a potted history of the mill. It is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as being a mill and fishery for 280 eels. Later, in Elizabethan times it was at the centre of an iron making industry with “huge mechanical hammers pounding iron bars with up to 150 blows a minute” I can’t begin to imagine how noisy that must have been. The card goes on the tell us that a visitor to Burton in 1653 “watched hot, swarthy Vulcans sweating, puffing and hammering, drawing out those rusty sows into barrs by rumbling, noysing, bedlam water mills.” Unfortunately, despite it being a hot day, there were no sweaty Vulcans to be seen. By 1780 the Mill Land Tax return showed it could produce 14 sacks of flour every 24 hours. No mean feat as in those days a sack weighed 280lbs which means it could produce 1.75 tons of flour a day! By the turn of the 20th century milling had ceased and the owner of nearby Burton house installed a turbine which powered his electricity. After some years of disrepair it came through the hands of the local authority and is now a family home and delightful tea room.
Views across Burton Mill Pond, now a tranquil wildlife haven with no sight nor sound of sweaty Vulcans pounding their iron bars!
We spent about an hour there drinking our tea, chatting briefly with a couple we knew who were also having an afternoon treat and then looking at the mill pond. A perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. If there is one thing which lets it down, it is that it is only open 3 afternoons a week – Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm. I loved Burton Mill Tea Room, it is a splendid place and well worth a visit!