Thursday 31 December 2015

The Best National Trust Scones of 2015

It's that time again, everyone! For the third year running, Scone Blogger Productions brings you a countdown of the top National Trust scones of the past 12 months. This is not to be confused with the list of the best National Trust scones of ALL TIME, which is of course the greatest page on the entire internet.

So without further ado, here are my Best National Trust Scones of 2015, in reverse order:

17. A la Ronde
A la Ronde near Exmouth was built by two cousins in the 1790s to house their souvenirs of the Grand Tour. This has inspired me. When I complete the National Trust Scone Odyssey (in the 2090s at this rate) I am going to build a house that looks like a scone and invite people to come and look at my National Trust memorabilia, which currently consists of 82 guide books, 47 fridge magnets, 16 mugs, and an umbrella. This was our first top-scoring Devon scone. Read about A la Ronde.

16. Anglesey Abbey
Do you know the best thing about being the National Trust Scone Blogger? It's not eating all the scones - that's the second best thing. The best thing is all the Sconepals who send me pictures from National Trust properties around the country. Almost every weekend I get at least one picture from Anglesey Abbey. Having tried the scones, I can see why. Read about Anglesey Abbey.

15. Fountains Abbey
I've always despaired at people on TripAdvisor who review NT properties as 'Terrible' but when you read further it says "Great place but it rained". However, after my day at Fountains Abbey I'm starting to maybe understand where they're coming from - I can confirm that it is very difficult to enjoy walking around a ruin when the rain is coming in sideways. But we loved the abbey and the scone was very good. Read about Fountains Abbey

14. Upton House
Did you know that Hitler had two lists of people that he was going to round up when he invaded Britain? One was a list of prominent Jewish people. The other was a list of business leaders. Lord Bearsted, chairman of Shell, prominent Jewish person, and owner of Upton House, was on both. Amazing. The scones at Upton were fantastic. Read about Upton House.

13. Coughton Court
I love Coughton Court. It has been owned by the Throckmorton family for hundreds of years, despite the fact that SEVEN of the 13 Gunpowder plotters were Throckmorton relations, in one way or another. Somehow they weren't booted out of the country or exterminated and the family still holds the lease to Coughton - they'll be there until 2248! Read about Coughton Court.

12. Sissinghurst
I wasn't a massive fan of Vita Sackville-West before I went to Sissinghurst. But anyone who buys a ruined Tudor tower without electricity, running water, heating, or drains, and turns it into a home and spectacular, world-renowned garden gets my admiration. The gardens have been maintained and they are lovely, plus the views from the top of the tower are fantastic, but it was Vita's study in the tower that really left an impression on me. That and the excellent scones. Read about Sissinghurst.

11. Beningbrough Hall
We had just been to Goddards, where we had chanced upon a top class scone, so I headed over to Beningbrough with a heavy heart thinking "no chance of two great scones in one day" BUT I WAS WRONG, sconefans, because the Beningbrough specimen was top drawer. Read about Beningbrough.

10. Studland Beach
Every so often I have to get the National Trust handbook out and re-read the entry about Studland Beach. But it's always there, in black and white: Studland contains the biggest naturist beach in the UK. The National Trust is FULL of surprises. I didn't see any naturists. I did see about 700 German teenagers looking at the pencil sharpeners in the gift shop to avoid the rain. And I saw a delicious scone that looked a bit over-baked but wasn't. Read about Studland Beach.

9. Montacute House
The second best thing on TV this year was Wolf Hall. The best thing was an episode of the kid's TV show Grandpa In My Pocket, which featured an old school pal of mine playing the part of Mr Cheese. Anyway, Montacute House starred in Wolf Hall as Greenwich Palace. I liked its bobbly hedges and I loved its bobbly scones. Read about Montacute House.

8. Tredegar House
I absolutely loved Tre-DEE-ga House. It has everything: a former owner who kept a pet baboon called Bimbo, fantastic volunteers, amazing scones, AND it has a Dalek in the stables (they film Doctor Who there). Read about Tredegar House.

7. Biddulph Grange Garden
If you had told me a year ago that I would have a fantastic day out at a garden featuring a gilded water buffalo and a singing tree, I would have laughed scornfully at you. But Biddulph Grange Garden was A-MAY-ZING, as was the scone. Read about Biddulph.

6. Lanhydrock
It seemed to take about three months to get there, but our very first trip to Cornwall was a TRIUMPH. The Lanhydrock scone was perfect - light and fluffy and gone in under two minutes. Read about Lanhydrock.

5. Goddards
I'm still reeling from my day at Goddards and what was surely the shocking discovery of the year: before Terry's invented the Chocolate Orange, there was a Chocolate Apple!! I KNOW. Other shocks: a) Goddards has a honesty box for sherry b) the family of Noel Goddard Terry, owners of Goddards and of the famous chocolate factory, did not look like five Augustus Gloops, as I had expected. There was table service in the actual dining room and a stunning scone. Read about Goddards.

4. Speke Hall
I was almost dreading my visit to Speke Hall. The baker at Speke is on Twitter and she seems like a lovely person. What if the scones were terrible and I wouldn't be able to lie AND OH MY GOD WHY AM I DOING THIS PROJECT. But the scone was sublime - I ate every crumb of it. And then I went and boggled at the beauty of Speke and the vastness of the River Mersey, which runs right by it. Read about Speke Hall.

3. Nostell Priory
There are three or four NT properties that fall into the 'spiritual home of the Scone Blogger' category and Nostell Priory is one of them. There were three types of scone on the menu - I'd forgotten to bring my fake-moustache-attached-to-a-pair-of-glasses disguise, so I couldn't go back and try the third one. In November they had a Scone Week. They also have the nicest volunteers EVER. I might just pitch a tent on the lawn and move in. Read about Nostell Priory.

=1. South Foreland Lighthouse & White Cliffs of Dover
It's not easy being the National Trust Scone Blogger. The reaction of friends and family to this blog is a mixture of "are you still doing that?" and "WHY?"

But just occasionally I have a day out at the National Trust that is so perfect, it makes everything worthwhile. My trip to the White Cliffs of Dover and South Foreland Lighthouse with the Scone Sidekick was one of those days. 

The White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre was our first stop. We sat outside on a beautiful day, eating the most FANTASTIC scones, drinking tea, and watching ferries. Did I expect watching ferries to be quite so immensely enjoyable? No. Was it immensely enjoyable? Yes. Read about the White Cliffs of Dover.

We then walked along the cliffs for 40 minutes to South Foreland Lighthouse. I wasn't expecting much to be honest, but we arrived and were immediately scooped up into a tour with Martin, a contender for National Trust guide of the year. 

I had a bit of a Bruce Bogtrotter moment in Dover. Bruce Bogtrotter is the boy in the Roald Dahl book, Matilda, who is forced to eat a whole chocolate cake by the evil Miss Trunchbull. I enthusiastically tucked into the two scones that came with the cream tea at the White Cliffs Visitor Centre. I then discovered that South Foreland also served two scones. I ploughed on, watched by a very disconcerted Scone Sidekick, but I could only manage one of them. It was a fantastic scone. I often think of the one I left behind. Read about South Foreland.

If you're reading this and feeling very affronted that your favourite scone property isn't mentioned, then don't worry - remember that I only managed to visit 43 properties this year. Here are some other countdowns for you:
And that's it for another year! We've completed 106 out of an estimated 230 National Trust tearooms - next year I will venture into the vast unknown, namely Norfolk and Cumbria.

And finally, I would just like to say a giant THANK YOU to all the wonderful Sconepals that have sent pictures and words of encouragement this year. You're all sconetabulous.


  1. Does nowhere serve cream and jam in proper dishes, or are they all in those silly pots?

    The cream tea at Bedruthan Steps is just about the best that we've had.