In A History of Britain Simon Schama wrote that Lyveden New Bield is “the most beautiful ruin in Britain.” Now, to add to the delight that visitors experience at the site, there is the lovely, modest Lyvden New Bield Café.
The café occupies the old Verdures Cottage, built within the grounds in 1609, partly made from stone left over from the original building that Sir Thomas Tresham was unable to finish. A grounds man would have lived here with his family while he looked after the premises. Today it is owned by the National Trust, and all the profit the café generates is spent on repairing and improving the historic site.
While at the café enjoying my tea and scones, I interviewed the café manager, Claire Barrett. For a newly opened café, it had a very good summer, with its busiest day falling on Bank Holiday Monday when 212 customers were served.
She was also eager to stress that the café will be open throughout the year. “We want it to be an all year round offer, so people local to the area as well as National Trust members can come and enjoy it.”
Like many National Trust properties, the café is staffed by volunteers, and for the business to remain viable, they need to attract more people able to help serve customers.
“All the waitresses that work in the tea room are volunteers”, Ms Barrett said. “We are always on the lookout for any other volunteers.”
The café itself has both indoor and outdoor seating, and although cosy, seating is plentiful. With fantastic homemade fare, the café is one more reason to visit this unspoiled corner of the English countryside.
By Toby Warner and Sam Trott