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Village Food & Drink

Nostalgic treats

Posted on August 20 2013 at 12:16:59 0 comments

Diane

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Founded four years ago with the aim of introducing a new generation to traditional afternoon tea, Constance Wallace at Tardebigge Court continues to thrive.

The mobile tea party service brings nostalgic treats into customers’ homes, while the cosy shop offers all things afternoon-tea related, from vintage china and tableware to handmade and restored home and giftware.

Business is booming, and owner Diane Cooke has already taken wedding bookings for the next two years. But Constance Wallace caters for all of life’s occasions, with funeral teas particularly popular.

Diane has been asked to arrange a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for a 70th birthday, and the birthday “girl” has asked for seven teapots filled not with tea but with different spirits!

Diane loves the social side of her business, and earns plenty of referrals from customers – often within the same family:

“A while ago I did a 21st birthday in Worcester, then the family asked me to cater the grandmother’s funeral and a daughter’s wedding, and now I’m doing the granddad’s 90th.”

Some people assume that tea parties are really a summer thing, but they are just as suitable for winter months – think cosy blankets and tea and muffins by the fire.

Diane did lots of Christmas parties last year, including corporate lunches, with turkey and cranberry sandwiches and teapots of mulled wine.

The mobile parties are a mainstay of the business, but there have been some exciting new developments this year.

The quirkiest of these involves Diane sourcing vintage china for – wait for it – China, where apparently English afternoon tea is the latest trend.

“Some time ago I did a tea party for a christening, and the father was a haulage driver who made frequent trips to China,” Diane explains.

“He heard from his Chinese friends that a new chain of shops was opening in Shanghai, themed around English tea parties – and they asked if he knew anyone in the UK who could supply traditional china…”

Of course, the driver thought of Diane – and now Anglophiles in Shanghai are enjoying afternoon tea with an air of authenticity.

“I usually find I have more china than I’ve got room for, but these shops will only accept complete tea sets with no damage, which are quite hard to find!”

Back home, the Tardebigge shop is brimming with stock, from china and tableware to handmade bunting, cushions, table linen and aprons.

Diane is building up a collection of accessories to hire out for weddings, such as lace bunting, tea light holders and wicker hearts – plus coloured glass, which she says is a big trend.

Diane also creates lovely textiles using old linen dyed in vibrant colours, and often prints her own designs – such as drawings of vintage china – on to fabric.

She recently acquired another nearby unit especially for printed textiles, and during the autumn and winter she will be offering workshops for people to have a go at printing their own designs.

She is also looking for additional premises to use as a tea shop: “I’ll still be doing the mobile tea parties – but they are usually for a particular occasion, whereas with a shop, you could pop in anytime for tea with a friend.”

Tel: 01527 540111
http://www.constancewallace.co.uk
‘Constance Wallace’ on Facebook
Open 10am–5pm Weds – Sat

* You can now have a sneak peek at Diane’s wares via Google Earth: go to http://www.maps.google.co.uk and type in “Constance Wallace Redditch” and you’ll be able to see right into the shop! (Thanks to André at RedFrost Photography)


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