A GREAT many people coming to England still expect an encounter with the near deleted bastions: the strong Routemaster with inadvertantly pole dancing conductor, the reassuring clang of the "Last Orders!" bell, attracting verdegris from the therapeutic haze of warm beer, and the Afternoon Tea ritual, preferably taken with the Queen...
Regarding the latter, I found myself, inspecting bone china hanging from the ceiling at John and Margaret Shipp's, Borough Market, a former electrical wholesalers given a shock by gastronomic gentrification. Brimming with attractive young women gossiping to their hearts content, I felt mildly out of place (almost intrusive).
This place is hard not to warm to, however: cucumber sandwich triangles, jaw-stretching scones with tangibly fresh raspberry and strawberry jams and dinky tea pots insulating Golden Assam and First Flush Darjeeling, although regrettably bags rather than loose leaves. This perhaps justified Her Majesty's absence...
Shipp's Tearooms - 4 Park Street, London. SE1 9AB
T. 020 7407 2692 (booking advised)
FURTHER LINK: UK Tea Council