Odette’s Tearoom promises to bring a taste of Victorian gentility to the High Street when it opens on 5 September, appropriately the day of the town’s Food Festival.
Named after the World War 2 heroine, Odette Hallows, who was French but worked as a British agent in wartime France and who lived close to the Whiteball Tunnel, the tea room has taken over the former premises of estate agent’s Wilkie, May and Tuckwood. It is currently being refurbished and equipped with delicate teacups, fine china and pretty cake stands. The decor subtly deploys violets – Odette’s favourite flower – and the tea room will extend into the spacious garden at the rear which has retained a Victorian quality with its huge apple and fig trees, pink hydrangea bushes and climbers.
Victoria Osborne and her business partner Nancy Powell-Brace are both Wellington residents; both have wanted a tea room – although independently up to now. Victoria explained, “We now have the time, energy and wherewithal to put a plan into practice.” Both are former teachers – Nancy taught drama and Victoria was a lecturer in English Language – and they decided at the end of the last academic year that the time was right to take on the challenge.
They were both inspired by last year’s sensational community arts project which culminated in the performance of ‘The Wondrous Tales of the Whiteball Tunnel’ in St John’s Church, particularly those elements of the narrative which explored Odette’s wartime service. Victoria said, “It was said that, when she was captured by the Germans and tortured in France, it was her remembered view from her cottage at Whiteball that kept her going.”
Victoria and Nancy will staff the tea room themselves together with 2 part-timers. It will be open 7 days a week from 9am until at least 5.30pm and serve light lunches to include soups, quiches, salads, sharing platters of local cheeses and fruit, afternoon teas and traditional cream teas with Cornish clotted cream. The menu will be “exclusively fresh, wherever possible organic, hand-made, locally sourced and include gluten-free items and vegetarian dishes. There’ll be something for everybody,” Victoria said, “Everything will be served in or on china. People really want tea in pretty cups and on saucers. It will be something different for Wellington. There will be no loud coffee machines but plenty of different teas.”