If you're looking for a pot of tea, somewhere off the beaten track, then the Old School Tea Rooms are to be found down a picturesque narrow lane in the Staffordshire Moorlands. They're not terribly easy to locate, but once you have discovered their whereabouts you won't be disappointed. As the name indicates, these tearooms1 are housed in an aged single-storey stone-built Grade II listed building, which up until recent years was the original village school in Cheddleton.
The old school has been sympathetically renovated, with the main classroom now forming the tearooms, and offices and smaller classrooms converted to kitchens and a small craft shop. A small beauty salon opened more recently, with a separate entrance at the rear of the building2.
The building is of stone construction, and can be easily identified as a former schoolhouse. The children's playground at the rear provides sufficient car parking space for visitors; you won't have to leave your car on the lane itself. One disabled car-parking space is available near the entrance.
Cheddleton is a fairly small village in a rural area, with tightly-knit families, many of whom have lived there for generations. Apart from the local customers, there are many who visit the tearooms from a wider area; residents of the nearby town of Leek (a town which is amply provided for in terms of cafés, pubs and restaurants) drive the few miles to Cheddleton for a pot of tea and a gossip with friends. As a small spa and beauty treatment facility has opened within the tearooms building, you may also find yourself in the company of a few 'ladies who lunch'. Added to this, the tearooms are aimed at the many walkers and ramblers who enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the North Staffordshire Moorlands - footpaths are well maintained and signposted close by.
In short, you'll find a wide cross-section of diners!
What's on Offer
As this is North Staffordshire, the top billing item on the menu is the Staffordshire Oatcake. This is the local staple, a traditional food which is often served instead of bread. Much healthier than fried bread, it forms the perfect breakfast when it accompanies bacon and eggs. At the Old School Tea Rooms, oatcakes are offered both as an accompaniment to their all day breakfast and individually filled with a selection of items such as cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms or sausage. A quirk is that these oatcakes come accompanied by a freshly-made side-salad. This is remarked upon as being 'strange' by the locals - although it's acknowledged to be a healthy choice.
Other simple food is on offer, such as jacket potatoes, salads and a short selection of freshly-made daily specials. Afternoon tea, with homemade cakes, is available. On Sundays a roast lunch is served, and because of this the breakfast menu ends at 11am on those days.
It should be mentioned that all the food is locally-sourced wherever possible; locally produced bacon and fresh free range eggs with speciality oatcakes from an artisan baker make a breakfast at the tearooms truly special.
The clue here is in the name of the place - this is a tea room. Alcohol is not served; the premises are not licensed. You may bring your own bottle of wine to accompany your Sunday lunch, though.
If you are a tea connoisseur, do not expect these tearooms to offer a wide range of teas or you will be disappointed. Tea is served by the pot or the cup - and is just 'tea', nothing fancy, nothing special. In fact it is quite weak, so if you want a really strong brew, do let the waitress know beforehand - all the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful.
Filter coffee is available as an alternative to tea.
Bookings and Opening Hours
Due to its popularity with the locals, it is advisable to book your table well in advance. The Tea Rooms are open from Wednesday to Sunday.