Review: Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral?

Posted 8 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral?
By: Simon Duffin
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Troubador Publishing via NetGalley

Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral? takes you on a whistle-stop tour of the UK’s cathedrals and suggests the best place to go for a tea, coffee and cake afterwards. Yorkshire author Simon Duffin has produced the perfect guidebook to take on a day trip. You’ll get a sense of the cathedral’s place in history and the coffee shop or tea room’s place in the town centres of today.

Simon’s focus is on the stories our cathedrals can tell rather than the architecture or the theology. There are such stories as the Native American Chief buried in Southwark Cathedral graveyard; the Alice in Wonderland stories inspired by Lewis Carroll’s time as a choirboy; or the Portuguese Princess who landed in Portsmouth and demanded tea rather than beer before her wedding.

In seeking out places for a refreshing beverage after you’ve toured the cathedral, Fancy a Cuppa lists independent coffee shops and tea rooms that not only provide top-quality coffee and tea but also have an intriguing story behind them. Some of these are contemporary, others artisan and some sell themselves on their historic location. Seek out the wonderful tea room in Bristol named after the tea clipper captain who was the owner’s great grandfather; the coffee shop built right on Durham’s mediaeval walls; or the hotel in Westminster where spies swapped intelligence during the Cold War, but there are now 200,000 bees on the roof!

This is the perfect guidebook to have on your smartphone or tablet. In just a minute, you’ll have some quirky facts about the cathedral town or city you’re in, you’ll see the highlights from each of the cathedrals – across all denominations – and you’ll have a good idea where to go for a cuppa and cake!

The title of this book caught my attention and the premise definitely solidified my interest. I always enjoy a good travelogue/travel-related non-fiction title and I was definitely intrigued by this book (especially as I’ve never been to the UK; makes for a good head start in planning my eventual trip there!). I was approved of a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love the idea behind this book, featuring major cathedrals across the United Kingdom and highlighting coffee houses and tea rooms nearby that must be checked out while in the area. The book is very straightforward: the locations are presented alphabetically and covers a good number of cities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. After mentioning a little bit about the cathedrals, the coffee houses and the tea houses would be mentioned; information includes contact information, culinary features of that particular business that the author enjoyed and a little backstory on how the business was established/who are the owners.

While the author mentioned at the foreward that this book would not be going into any great detail about the history behind the cathedrals, I kind of wished he did; it would have made this book a lot handier for people planning on going to to the United Kingdom for a trip, keeps everything in one volume (not that I consult a travel book a whole lot once I’m there but it’s nice to carry only 1 book instead of several). I do however appreciate that smaller cities not normally travelled were included in this collection; despite of the brief-ness of the historical detail of the cathedrals, I learned a lot about them.

The writing could have been more inspiring but it is very accessible and straight to the point. I liked that he included the back stories behind the coffee houses and tea rooms he recommended throughout the novel. He also included pictures, which gives the reader a good idea of what the cathedrals and the fronts of these shops looks like without having to look them all up separately online (though as a complete aside, the framing could have been better; the tops of steeples were cut off and trees were obstructing the view of certain locations but this has nothing to do with my overall impression of the book).

As if I didn’t want to go to the UK enough (must’ve flown over it like, three times now without ever stepping foot *tear*), this book really makes me want to go at the next opportunity I get. I want to check out some of these quaint coffee houses, have a proper afternoon tea and eat some cake (and I’m not even a big cake person). I highly recommend this book if you’re planning a trip to the UK or are into cathedrals, coffee houses and tea rooms.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Visit the author’s website || Order this book from Troubador Publishing

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2 Responses to “Review: Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral?”

  1. I’m curious about this one. I too have never spent any real time in the UK. I’ve flown through London and over the area as whole a few times now, but never had a vacation there. I want to go to cathedrals and then drink tea, eat cake, and have the whole quintessential experience!

    This book might be too dangerous for me to read, but I might do it anyway.

    • Do it! 😀 Though yeah, after I read the book I ended up on Google trying to see if there’s any proper tea rooms in my city, lol

      We will end up in the UK properly one of these days and it will be fantastic 🙂

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