A special thanks to Dorothy for writing such a great article about The Ploughcroft Tea Room. Below is the article. Or you may go to VERY BEST OF VIRGINIA to see it.
Lynchburg, VA - Excitement over the Royal Wedding is, of course, not limited to England. Lots of people in our area are also counting down the hours.
The Ploughcroft Tea Room in Lynchburg is holding four different viewing parties on Friday with a wedding cake, singers, bagpipers and traditional English sweets. The owner says they've been booked up for months, with more than 160 slots already filled.
Lisa Dibble has been collecting memorabilia about the Royal family for thirty years and says she always dreamed of finding her knight in shining armour, she'll be one of the estimated two billion people watching the real-life fairytale unfold.
Accents Flags and Gifts has sold dozens of British flags leading up to the big day. The owner estimates in all they've sold $500 worth of merchandise directly because of the wedding.
Jan McKnight remembers all the way back to Queen Elizabeth's wedding. She says the upcoming nuptials offer a good distraction for people out of work.
The owner of the Ploughcroft Tea Room agrees. "People just want to get away from all that's going on--the economy, the gas. We're having a wedding, let's forget all that," Pat Hutto said.
"There are just many little tea parties going on all over this country. It's part of the mystery of the Royal Family that Americans have."
She opened the Ploughcroft Tea Room in October, hoping to bring a bit of England to Lynchburg. "I had a lady that came in and said she'd been to the Ritz, and to Harrods and she said you're right on up there and I said I couldn't ask for a better compliment than that."
What better way to celebrate than with a Royal Wedding. Patricia decided to throw a party on this side of the pond for the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The response was overwhelming. There are more than 160 reservations and seating for only 35 people at a time.
"I had no idea that it would take on such proportions."
Guests will come in in waves Friday and watch the pre-recorded ceremony. They'll raise their tea cups to the couple and enjoy lunch from Ploughcroft's British menu. "Open faced sandwiches, little smoked salmon, and of course the famous cucumber sandwiches," she explained.
Then, there's dessert. "Gotta have wedding cake. It probably won't be what they will be having at Buckingham Palace. That's usually a really rich fruit cake with royal icing."
Sweet treats from scratch while bag pipes play outside the Commerce Street shop, a much less crowded way to celebrate for people who didn't get an invite to Westminster Abbey.
Downtown Lynchburg has long been home to one kind of T-Room.
But the popular Texas Inn, known to many by that tongue-in-cheek nickname, is known for its burgers and chili, not necessarily its fine china.
Now an actual, honest-to-goodness teahouse has also moved in.
Pat Hutto opened the Ploughcroft Tea Room late last month, hoping to tap into a niche of people who don’t mind coming in for a relaxing afternoon with a pot of tea and some dainty finger
She and her staff serve up lunch — like Shepherds Pie, Cornish Pastry and “all the good things that come out of Britain” — from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and from 2 to 5 p.m.
“It changes the whole atmosphere,” says Hutto, who was born in Dover, England, and moved to the United States in 1969 with her Marine husband. “We have the lunch rush, and then you’ll get this leisurely group (for tea).”
An afternoon tea, she says, is not supposed to replace an evening meal.
Instead, it’s supposed to combat the “sinking feeling (we feel) between lunch and dinner. In England, dinnertime can be as late as 8 or 9 o’clock.”
At Ploughcroft, which is named after Hutto’s family home in England, the teas can be paired with sandwiches (options include cucumber and cream cheese, watercress and egg, roast beef and horseradish, and smoked salmon), scones or sweet treats, which change daily.
Hutto ran a similar place for 14 years in Virginia Beach, the last place her husband was stationed before he retired from military service.
The couple moved to Sweet Briar College, where she held her fair share of teas for the community.16 years ago, and Hutto spent 10 of those years working as director of dining services at
“It was one of the reasons why I thought it would work,” she says. “There was such a good response to that.”
Hutto and her daughter, Ashley Mahne, began planning for Ploughcroft a year ago.
“I saw a niche for it,” she says. “It seems to be one of the fastest growing little businesses in the United States. It’s for people with a longing, maybe, to go to England.
“We’re very authentic. If you come into this tea room, you’re going to feel like you’re (there).”
Mother and daughter knew they wanted to be downtown and first had their sights set on Main Street. But they kept coming back to their current Commerce Street location, which is across the street from Estate Specialists, be-cause they thought it was more appropriate for achieving that tea house vibe.
“It’s quieter on Commerce,” says Mahne, who decorated the space with old wooden tables, white tablecloths, one Victorian-era sofa and teapots and cups from Hutto’s own collection.
“I wanted it to feel like you were walking into someone’s old home in England.”
“We intend to stay traditional,” she adds. “It’s not going to evolve into (us serving) bagels.”
Address: 1215 Commerce St.
Hours: -Saturday (afternoon tea served from 2 to 5 p.m.)
Price range: Lunch runs from $6.50 (soup du jour) to $9.50 (chicken and mushroom pie or the Ploughman’s Lunch) and tea from $3.50 (a pot of tea for one) to $21 (a Victorian Afternoon Cream Tea, which includes an end-less pot of tea, two homemade scones and your choice of sandwiches and sweet treats); sandwiches and other home-made items can also be purchased a la carte
Special events: A harpist will be performing in the tea room from , Nov 6th and an official grand opening, featuring students dressed in Victorian costumes and readings from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” is scheduled for
It's quite possibly the perfect place to spend a dreary, cold, gray winter afternoon. The new Ploughcroft Tea Room on Commerce Street in downtown Lynchburg is a place of warmth, and little of that has to do with the fact that the heat is on.
Guests are quickly greeted with a cheerful "hello!" from a friendly waitress with a welcoming British accent and led to a table in the middle of the room. Mismatched antique chairs surround nine antique tables throughout the room. On one wall, there's a wooden mantle over a little fireplace and a Victorian couch. On the other, a large black cabinet full of English teas and chocolates, Scottish hard candies and a large glass container full of lavender. Delicate, ornate tapestries hang on the walls. There's a lot to take in, but the whole atmosphere is welcoming and clean and very, very charming.
On my first visit to Ploughcroft, Pat Hutto, co-owner of the tea room, is quick to greet me as she waltzes out of the kitchen in the back of the building.
"Would you like some tea?" she asked.
The smells of the room and the atmosphere make it nearly impossible to say "no." If you don't have much of a knowledge of tea, Hutto might recommend the PG Tips tea, their most popular.
"This is a tea that's found in most British homes," she explained. "This tea can be brewed quite strong but not bitter. It's a black tea that is high in anti-oxidants with very little caffeine."
The PG Tips arrives in a beautiful, colorful little teapot, one of Hutto's own. There are four different teas served at Ploughcroft. Besides the PG Tips there is also Earl Grey, Darjeeling, which, as the menu claims, is the "champagne of teas," and Lapsang Souchong, which is a black tea that is smoke-dried and has a distinctive, smoky flavor. All of the teas are imported from England.
"Cream? Sugar?" she asked, picking up tiny sterling silver sugar tongs.
I nod and she drops two perfect sugar cubes into the pretty green and gold teacup in front of me. It too, along with all of the other patterned, colorful, gleaming tea cups, are from Hutto's own personal collection.
Although the Ploughcroft Tea Room is new to Lynchburg--the doors opened October 23, 2010; the grand opening was celebrated December 11 at a special Christmas event--Hutto is not new to the tea business. Originally from King's Lynn in Norfolk, England, she owned and operated a tea shop in Virginia Beach for 14 years, when she lived there with her husband, a former Marine.
The Ploughcroft Tea Room has become a business for the whole family: Hutto and daughter, Ashley Mahne, are partners. They started discussing the idea in the spring of 2010. By July of last year, they were seriously hunting for antique decor for the shop. By October, the tea room was open for business. Hutto's other daughter, Shelbie Beato, lives in Greensboro, NC, and does the marketing for the business, creating the website and helping with the promotional pieces. Hutto's husband is the dishwasher of the precious teapots and tea cups. He also helped build the front counter and a big, beautiful, sturdy cabinet that holds the imported teas and candies that are for sale.
"There's such a different audience, a different environment here," Hutto explained. "The shop in Virginia Beach was much more pub-y. This is much more geared toward American women and men."
Hutto said the appeal of Ploughcroft has caught on much faster than she expected.
"I'm very surprised by how busy we are. I thought we'd ease into it. But we see a lot of repeat customers--some come two, three times a week--and we usually get a good downtown lunch crowd," she said.
One look at the menu and it's easy to see why this place would attract a hungry crowd. And Hutto said the place isn't just for the ladies--she's had quite a few male customers come in for lunch, or even to enjoy afternoon tea. You'll find nothing but authentic British food, things like the popular Cheese & Leek Crusted Shepherd Pie or the Chicken & Mushroom Pie, both made fresh daily by Hutto herself. She usually gets to the shop around 8 each morning to start cooking and preparing food for the day.
Hutto's favorite menu item is Ploughman's--"a cultural icon of England"--which is an assortment of imported English cheeses, served with a green salad, piece of bread and pickled onions. Cornish Pastry, English Pork Pie and a Cheese and Onion Tart are a few other choices on the lunch menu, which is served Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prices are reasonable, too: the dishes start at $6.50 and go up to $9.50.
There's also Afternoon Tea daily from 2 to 5 p.m. The Afternoon Cream Tea comes with two warm homemade scones served with Devon cream, preserves and a fruit garnish, along with an endless pot of tea of your choice.
"The Devon cream is imported from England, and it's the real McCoy," Hutto explained with a smile. "It's a pure dairy product and you serve it with a spread, like strawberry jam. Delicious."
For $21, guests can indulge in the Victorian Afternoon Cream Tea. This tea is the same as the Afternoon Cream Tea, but also includes an assortment of freshly made dainty sandwiches, a selection of English Sweet Treats and fresh seasonal fruit.
"We've applied for a license so we can serve beer and wine," Hutto said. "All of our menu items would go well with a British beer and it would be great to serve ale with lunch."
Hutto also plans to open up for dinner one night a week starting this month (January).
"We're only serving all British food--no salad bars here. We want this to be traditionally British," she said. "You've got to have something different to succeed today."
And it seems, so far, as if Hutto has found her niche. She had five parties booked in December, each with around 40 people, and has more planned for the months ahead. On Saturdays, she often has a harpist in the shop to play music as ladies enjoy a pot of tea. And in April, when Prince William marries Kate Middleton, Hutto plans to have a special celebration and show the wedding on TV in the shop.
"Book now," she said. "It'll fill up fast!"
But events or no events, Hutto's tea room is often full. She said she sees her repeat customers, but also has people of all ages that come in to relax and enjoy a pot of tea.
"I think people really want a place they can come and sit and relax and enjoy and not feel so rushed," she said.
And it's true, about not feeling rushed or hurried. The whole environment is so inviting and relaxing and homey. It was almost as if we were sitting in Hutto's living room chatting, not at a table in the middle of her tea shop.
"How did you come up with the name?" I asked.
"Ah, the name," she replied.
At this question, Hutto got up and went to a wooden cabinet in the corner, and came back with a tapestry of a blue cottage.
"Three-hundred years ago, this was an inn in England, called the Plough. Then my parents bought it and it called it Ploughcroft. This was the house I grew up in, thus the name," she explained.
It certainly seems fitting to name the tea room after her childhood home. After all, I had only been there an hour and already felt incredibly comfortable in this quaint British tea room.
Hutto takes a quick look around, surveying her shop with a smile. Although it is the end of the day, she seemed very content.
"I'm very happy," she said. "I absolutely love this."
And hopefully Lynchburg will, too.
Liberty University - Option LU did this great video clip that included The Ploughcroft Tea Room. Great video Option LU. Thanks so much for the kind words!
Here is the link: Option LU - Facebook video
After ten years of working for Sweet Briar College at the Florence Elston Inn and Conference Center, Patricia Hutto and her daughter, Ashley Mahne, partnered together to open the Ploughcroft Tea Room, located in the historic district of downtown Lynchburg, in October of 2010. Depending on one’s tea sipping preference, this authentic British tea room provides both an afternoon and high tea time experience.
Hutto and Mahne’s business venture originally transpired through Hutto’s personal history of having grown up in England. When she arrived in the United States as a young adult, Hutto opened her first tea room in Virginia Beach, Va. When her love for the Blue Ridge Mountains brought her four hours west to Sweet Briar, Hutto held four separate tea parties for the general public. “I had around 70 to 90 people wanting to attend.” It wasn’t until this past summer that Hutto and Mahne decided Lynchburg was the perfect location to add more culture and another place where people could eat and socialize. Hutto and Mahne’s hope is to have the Ploughcroft Tea Room be a place where they can often see returning faces.
Two dining times separate what is offered on the menu. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., lunch and tea selections are served, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. the menu focuses on afternoon tea. The lunch menu consists of a daily soup, salads and entrees such as Cheese and Leek Crusted Shepherds Pie, Cornish Pastry and an English iconic dish, the Ploughman, to name a few. Afternoon tea, where reservations are highly recommended, serves both an Afternoon Cream Tea and Victorian Afternoon Tea and also includes a variety of finger sandwiches, sweets and actual tea selections. For those with a sweet tooth, an À la Carte selection offers Welsh Cakes, Toasted English Crumpets and an assortment of English Biscuits (cookies).
Two Sweet Briar students, Molly Petchel ’12 and Kory Garvis ’11, had the opportunity to enjoy what the Ploughcroft Tea Room has to offer. Garvis said she and Petchel were lucky enough to stumble across the tea room’s sign when driving on Commerce Street one day. Said Garvis, “We decided to park and check it out. When we walked in, we were thrilled with how cute the place was!” Petchel mentioned they had arrived just shy of 2 p.m., yet were still able to order lunch. “We both ended up getting a bowl of the daily soup and a side salad, along with a Victorian Afternoon Tea.” Both students noted the tastiness of their soup and how delicious the finger food was that came with their pot of tea.
Though Hutto misses her friends at Sweet Briar, she made it clear how grateful she is to have the Sweet Briar community support her. “Numerous departments, deans and even the current president (Jo
Ellen Parker) have already come in at least once or twice.”
The Ploughcroft Tea Room is open from 1l a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday every week. Private parties are welcomed on Sunday and Monday, reservation required. You can experience the quiet and relaxing atmosphere of this quirky must-do tearoom at 1215 Commerce Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504.
To find more information about the Ploughcroft Tea Room, please visit: http://ploughcrofttearoom.com.
Mon. - Sat. 11:00AM - 2:00PM for Lunch
Mon. - Sat. 2:15PM - 5:00PM for Afternoon Tea
Available on Sundays for Private Parties
Tell us about your fabulous experience on Trip Advisor!
Scan Above Facebook Image with QR Code App from Smart Phone to LIKE us on Facebook or Click here to be redirected to The Ploughcroft Tea Room's Facebook Page: Follow Us On Facebook
Post a review for your favorite tea room, The Ploughcroft Tea Room on YELP.com