Happy opening day of the 2012 London Olympics everyone!! Seeing how the summer games are in Jolly ol’ this year, I thought it would be appropriate to tour London Farm, and explore a shop on Chatham Street called Mary’s British Home. It’s A day of The English, if you will.
I lived in the UK for a year when I was 20, and the place is quite dear to me. I was there under the guise of a university exchange, but I spent most of my time travelling and eating with the ladies above. I was studying art history, a degree I originally pursued because I’d planned on a career in architectural restoration. Food won out, but my obsession with old buildings and love of England remained. You can therefore imagine how thrilled I was yesterday to go to London Farm and have English tea in an old house.
London Farm is located almost right on the Fraser River, west of Steveston’s main village and resting amongst agricultural land. The waterfront bike ride from Chatham Street is easy and relaxing; on the way, I passed a purple sea of potato plants, and a shipyard with piles of enormous spools, used to reel in heavy chains and tangles of nets.
The farm’s stately white house was built by the London family in the 1880’s; this building has survived 3 separate centuries, and still is a regal beauty. To protect the property from development, the farm was bought by the City of Richmond in the 1970’s, and its care was taken over by the non-profit London Farm Society shortly thereafter. The society employs a small handful of people, but mainly depends on volunteers to keep its small museum, flower beds, tea room, and gift shop going. They’re clearly a very dedicated group, because the place is immaculately kept.
The tea room seats 24 people (reservations are recommended, especially on weekends), and serves a modest tea at a modest price.
For $12.50, you receive a cup of their house-blended London Lady tea, a scone with jam (made on the farm and available in the gift shop; yesterday’s jam was raspberry plum)….
The tea at London Farm isn’t a meal, just a few treats to enjoy after a walk through the garden and peeking around the different rooms in the house. For the full-fledged version, I’ll be checking out both Adorabelle and the Globe @ YVR in the future.
Here are some good things to know about London Farm:
-If you’re getting married and looking for an idyllic setting for your wedding, the London Farm can be it!
-The property is actually a park, so from dawn to dusk you’re welcome to come in and enjoy lunch at a picnic table, or spread out a blanket under one of the handsome old maples in the yard.
-The London Farm Society is always happy to accept new volunteers; you can help out regularly, or just donate your time every now and then. Perhaps to help dig up a few weeds in the colourful garden?
-On Sunday August 12th, from 10am to 6pm, the society puts on Family Farm Day, which includes a craft fair, petting zoo, pony rides, children’s activities, live entertainment, a food concession, community exhibits, and more.
-Most of the rooms in the house, up and down, are furnished with period pieces. Here are some photos from my own little house tour:
Overall, this is a charming little spot to visit, and conveniently close to other heritage sites like the Britannia Shipyards. If you’re not in the mood for tea, bring a picnic and lounge on the grass, pretending the farm is actually yours and you get to sleep every night in that grand old house.
Once I’d photographed every last flower and floorboard, I got back on Talulah and headed into Steveston village. My mission was to explore Mary’s British Home store, a shop specializing in English food and imports that’s been in Steveston for over 30 years.
Mary herself still owns it and works there! The place is legit; amongst their many products they’ve got Bakewell Tarts, Galaxy Bars, Ribena, goods from Mark’s and Spencers, Piccalilli, back bacon, steak and kidney pie, English cheeses, Walker’s Chips, and an entire case of sausage rolls, savoury pies, and pasties.
I go the steak bite (beef stew in flaky pastry), and upon first bite was taken straight back to Christmas of 2005, when I had the same pie on a trip to my friend Georgie’s childhood home, a 400 year-old stone cottage down the street from a ruined castle. True story. That steak bite was delicious and that visit was lovely; food and memory are so curiously intertwined.
So, this epically long post is just to say this: London Farm is a delight (though don’t go expecting lunch), and Mary’s British Home is a great store to explore. If you eat meat, get a steak bite. Finally, I’d like to offer my most enthusiastic well-wishes to the athletes competing in the Olympic games! Miss604 put together this fantastic post about athletes from BC heading to London, including links to all their Twitter handles so you can wish them luck. So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a bakewell tart and start cheering!
Cash and Cards accepted
Cash and Cards accepted