Victory Emporium & Tea Room
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- Last updated: 29/06/2018
For something to be great, it does not necessarily run that it must be big, as I discovered recently when I took a trip to visit the 1940s-themed Victory Emporium and Tea Room, at 14 Cross Street in Seaton, Devon, EX12 2LH. Set just away from the high street, but still being placed within walking distance of all the amenities, this small but extremely well-presented enterprise has gained a great reputation in a town which is bursting with cafes.
I have visited many ‘themed’ tea rooms over the years, but when I heard about the Victory Emporium and Tea Room, which also sells militaria and other wartime memorabilia, I just knew I had to pay a visit. Stepping through the front door, everybody is warmly greeted as old friends by the proprietors, Sue and Mark, who are business partners in the enterprise. They even dress the part to complete the theme of the tea room. With its welcoming, relaxed atmosphere, it is easy to understand how, in the two years since it opened its doors, this has become a place to visit.
Several small tables, each laid out with china tea services, which lends to the era and transports you back to the 1940s. The decoration is themed as Home Front, with posters of the day and music of the time adding to the nostalgia. Taking a seat, you very quickly strike up a conversation with the people sat at the next table. This is a place where everybody can relax and enjoy themselves. Briefly breaking away from serving, Sue explained that the town is home to many veterans, both civilian and service personnel from the war, and as news of the tea room spread they have come to use it as a meeting place where they can reminisce. Among the Victory Emporium’s regular customers there are former members of the Women’s Land Army, evacuees and even a former member of the Entertainments National Services Association (ENSA).
The menu includes a range of homemade cakes and scones baked by Sue and tea, which comes in a real china teapot and coffee in a cafetiere for individual service. The menu is modern and caters for snacks and light lunches. Many of the items are introduced with a very clever, humorous wartime twist on the name, such as ‘Run Rarebit’ for cheese on toast. As for the scones, these I can personally vouch for as being delicious. Everything is served on china plates, with cake forks and butter knives, and the slices of cake are hearty portions.
Attention to detail is everything and it is this which has led to customers going online to add their comments to the various Social Media sites on the Internet. Indeed, just take time to look at the Victory Emporium and Tea Room on Facebook to see the number of positive reviews and you will see the satisfaction rating is in the highest category. Satisfied customers include collectors who have purchased items on sale whilst enjoying a pot of tea.
Sue has always been interested in the wartime period, but it is only in the last five years, or so, that she has been able to take her interest further. Mark, on the other hand, is not only an experienced reenactor with multi-period interests, he has also owned military vehicles and traded in militaria. Mark’s interest, along with that of his brother Richard, date back to their boyhood years. By combining these interests, they have come up with a winning formula to present a wartime tea room, where collectors can browse for items and re-enactors wearing their best outfits can mingle.
Even people just coming in for a cup of tea from the high street cannot help but be taken by the charm of the establishment. Collectors and re-enactors will find it not only a great place for refreshments, they can also browse at leisure the range of items on sale. From complete uniforms such as female Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), items of WLA, helmets and civilian clothes, wartime medals, through to paper-based memorabilia, such as wartime publications and leaflets, right down to pencils produced in the war for use in schools.
All too soon, I had to end my visit, but I will certainly return for some more cake and scones to be washed down by tea. The Victory Emporium and Tea Room hours of opening are 9.30am to 4.30pm Tuesday to Saturday. Sue and Mark can be contacted either by telephoning 01297 22800 or emailing at: victorytearooms@ outlook.com. Themed parties and other special occasions can be catered for with advance booking, or you can just drop in for a truly unique experience.
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