The tea rooms

After the shop was established, Hanover also opened as a tea room. Bert seeded the lawn ready for making a tea garden. When Gladys Winser came from Devon to visit her aunt she helped out with the cooking. Eventually marrying Bert, Gladys was the lynchpin in the kitchen.

The tea room changed little over the years, with its bow window and polished horse brasses hanging from the dark beams. Two bells were used for service; one, a ship’s bell from a wreck, is now in Brighstone Museum. There were nine highly polished tables inside and twelve more outside when the weather was good. In the winter there was always a welcoming fire. It was very cosy when full and everyone seemed to chat to everyone else. It provided a good meeting place for people.

The tea rooms were open all year round and a sausage and mash supper was made regularly for the Vectis Cyclists for 1/6 (one shilling and sixpence). During the Second World War, soldiers stationed in Brook would have breakfast and other meals at Hanover, (see The War Years) and the Land Army girls occasionally came for a treat of beans on toast instead of their usual sandwiches.

All this meant a lot of hard work in a very small space. Everyone had a job and Gladys, who got up at 5.30 each morning to make all the scones and cakes, is remembered well for carrying huge, heavy trays and cheerfully serving the customers. Molly Humber was the only outside helper and was invaluable. 

On busy Sundays in the summer people queued at the gate. Janet and Susan, (Margaret and Walter Stone’s daughters), remember the washing up as a nightmare which often lasted from 4pm to 7 or 8pm. By the 1960s a cream tea cost three shillings with strawberries available in season, as were fresh prawns from Brook Bay. Clotted cream was delivered from the Creameries in Newport and the daily milk was fetched fresh from Downton Farm across the road in two, six and eight pint cans.

In 1969, the last year of business for the family, the tea gardens were well known all over the Island and served 10,000 cream teas and salad meals.