13 North Street Alfriston East Sussex BN26 5UG

Jam first? Or cream? There can be few more pleasant places to ponder this question than Badgers, a gorgeous tea shop with a pretty back garden in the delightful South Downs village of Alfriston. For those who’d rather dodge the cream tea conundrum, there’s plenty more to dither over – should it be a smoked salmon muffin, or a squidgy, fruit-laden slice of cake, whipped up that morning? The genial South African owner, Michael Luttig, sometimes works hand-beaded spoons and Zulu-style wire ornaments into his witty seasonal table settings and decorations. But it’s the cosy, cottagey Englishness of Badgers that really makes the place – and the fact that everything is delivered with a flourish. Crumpets, scones and toast arrive in trugs, mini versions of the willow and chestnut baskets that Sussex craftsmen have been making for over 200 years, and tea is served from a truly splendid assortment of antique silver teapots, milk jugs, sugar bowls and cake stands, all wonderfully mismatched and lovingly polished.

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