Scotland Tea Rooms

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From the Land of Tea

In this installment of "From the Land of Tea," we take a sneak-peek look at an upcoming page that will eventually be on display to the public. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to the page one full year before the public does.

  • Patreon Release Date: December 21st, 2022.
  • Public Release Date: December 21st, 2023.

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Old Scottish Tea Rooms!

As much as i love tea leaf reading, i also love old tea rooms as found on vintage postcards. I clean these up in Photoshop and give each one a caption explaining it as best i can. These images will eventually be on display at the Mystic Tea Room web site. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to them one full year before the public does.

To place this work in context, please read the following introductory pages



The Tea Rooms of Scotland are a wild and rugged bunch. Scotland is famous for its many battles and historical markers, and there seems to be a tea room nearby to each and every one of them. In these tea rooms we do not see the cozy fireplaces, antique porcelain, and polished horse brasses of England, and very little of the potted palm aesthetics of Europe and America, nor are there any of the Asian rattan furnishings of California and the West. What is most prominent, and surprising so, is the number of old tea rooms in Scotland that offered garden-style dining in public parks. Let's take a look at the land where, despite the rough weather, drinking tea out-of-doors is a summertime treat.

Scotland Tea Room Gallery, in alphabetical order by name of city or town.


The Pot Luck Tea Rooms on the Great North Road, Aviemore, Scotland, a town situated within the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. This view is by Raphael Tuck and Sons, whose cards are of uniformly high quality. The number "34" may indicate that the photo was taken in 1934 or it may be a series number. The establishment's hand-painted sign is a rebus: "The [picture of a cooking pot] Luck Tea Rooms." As the two following cards show, this shot was taken looking slightly South-East. The Great North Road leads North to our left, beyond the smaller road and behind a low fence.
The Pot Luck Tea Rooms on the Great North Road, Aviemore, Scotland. We now face North, looking up the Great North Road. Note the small shrub at right, next to a young tree, barely peeping above the top level of the fence. I wish we had a view of the interior of the Pot Luck Tea Rooms; i hope it was as charming as the little wayside building that housed it.
The Pot Luck Tea Room on the Great North Road, Aviemore, Scotland. The camera angle is almost the same as in the card above, but a car has arrived, a woman is crossing the road, a pair of people with a bicycle watch the passing parade from porch chairs, and the little shrub has put on several years of growth and is now twice as high as the fence. This Real Photo Post Card was mailed in 1947.

Culloden Moor

The Tea Lounge at the Culloden Moor Tea Rooms, Scotland. Culloden Moor, the site of the famous Battle of Culloden, is about six miles East of Inverness, Scotland. The battle was fought between the Jacobites (including the clans Maclean, Stewart of Appin, Mackintosh, MacDonald, and Fraser, and the Atholl Highlanders) and the government's supporters (including the clans Sutherland, MacKay, Ross, and Grant). The Redcoats won, the Jacobites were slaughtered, and Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to France. But that was in 1746, and by the time this photo was taken, about 180 years later, it was tea-time in Culloden. Well, for starters, there is no cozy fireplace -- but lo and behold, we have a piano to keep us warm, with a large radio on top of it, for when the pianist is off-duty. What a charming place this is, with a three-tiered cake server, cut cat-tails in crystal vases, and hanging plants that dangle from the ceiling. This is C.M. (Culloden Moor) card no. 11, published by Raphael Tuck and Sons, England.


Franchi's Tea Room, 49 Overgate, Dundee, Scotland. Potted palms, vases of cut roses, triple-tiered tea trays, and green-striped restaurant ware on white linen mark this is as a very nice tea room indeed. The large mirrored wall at the back doubles the apparent size of the slace to good effect. The proprietor was Antonio Franchi, who has several other business addresses in addition to this one in Slater's Royal National Directory of Scotland for 1903. As late as the 1930s, a descendant of the Scots-Italian Franchi family, V. Franchi, was listed as a cafe owner in Dundee in the National Records of Scotland.


Patrick Thompson Ltd. Lunch and Tea Rooms, Edinburgh, Scotland. Patrick Thomson opened a small haberdashery and drapery shop on South Bridge in 1889. In 1906 it relocated to larger quarters at 15 North Bridge and became a department store; this postcard photo was is thus taken after 1906. Each table features white linens and a vase of white narcissus flowers. "P.T.'s," as it was known, was a high-end store, filled with fashionable clothes and furnishings, as well as a Palm Court Restaurant and a barber shop. Department store tea rooms like this flourished well into the 20th century, but most of them are gone now, their places having been taken by shopping mall food courts. Patrick Thomson's was sold in 1952, and after a succession of owners and name-changes, it closed in 1982. The building still stands and now houses the Carlton Hotel.

Ettrick Bay

Ettrick Bay Tea Rooms on the west side of the Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Yes, we see the tea-drinkers and the tea, the crisply ironed white linens and the remarkably ornate hats on the women -- but where are the rooms? Obviously this is one of those rare Summer seasonal garden tea rooms that popped up all around Europe and the Americas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but here it is in a rather remote beachfront location. The two buildings associated with this adventure in outdoor dining are probably a sturdy indoor tea room of brick and a storage shed for all the garden furniture when it was not in use. And here's the big surprise: The Ettrick Bay Tea Room still exists, it still features outdoor dining, and it has its own social media presence! The building has changed -- either having been enlarged or replaced -- but the menu is enticing and the food looks great.


The Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow, Scotland. With its stunning decor, inspired by the celebrated Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this "replica" tea room and gift shop is a marvelous thrill in a world seemingly bent on entropy. I can do no better in describing it than than to quote from the Willow's own web site: "Kate Cranston, the famous Glasgow Tea Room Entrepreneur, and one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s biggest supporters, was born in her father’s hotel in George Square, Glasgow in 1849. The Cranston family were avid supporters of the temperance movement and Kate’s brother Stuart gets the credit for opening the first Tea Room. He was a tea merchant and his enthusiasm for his product led him to have a kettle on hand in his shop to provide samples for his customers. Stuart then hit upon the idea of charging for this and set up some tables and chairs in the premises. He began selling cups of tea with the optional extra of cakes. The idea proved lucrative and soon Tea Rooms were sprouting up all over the city. Taking inspiration from her brother, Kate decided to open her own Tea Rooms business. She had a total of four in Glasgow, Argyle Street, Ingram Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. The Tea Rooms were an immediate success, partly due to Kate’s own distinctive character. A compassionate employer, Kate visited the homes of the girls who worked for her, ran a compulsory insurance scheme and made sure they all had three meals a day, a great perk given that many of the staff came from large poor families. Although a touch old fashioned and eccentric in her dress sense, Kate was the opposite in her business decisions. She used two relatively unknown designers at that time, George Walton and Charles Rennie Mackintosh – both of whom ensured that the Tea Rooms were truly unique, the interiors being critically acclaimed in the newspapers and art magazines of the day." The original Willow Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street were designed by Mackintosh, and opened for business in October 1903. The current Willow Tea Rooms, established in 1983, provide on-site English high tea service in a setting designed by Mackintosh, fine packaged teas, and an online gift shop featuring the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


The Green Shutter Tearoom, Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Largs, which means "The Slopes" in Scottish Gaelic, is a town on the Firth of Clyde, about 33 miles from Glasgow. A battle took place there in 1263 when a band of Vikings under King Haakon IV attempted to land from a fleet of longboats and were repulsed by the army of Alexander III. Today Largs is noted for its sandy beach and summer tourism. This is a Chrome photo, and by the look of the stonework siding, may have been taken in the 1970s or 1980s.

Pittencrieff Glen

The Tea Rooms at Pittencrieff Glen, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. More than a dozen women and children, and a couple of men, stroll the grounds of Pittencrieff Glen. Flowering shrubs surround the tea room, but we cannot see inside. Pittencrieff Park (known locally as "The Glen") is a public park, purchased in 1902 by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and given to the people of Dunfermline in a ceremony the following year. The women's clothing date this card to no later than 1910.

Rouken Glen

Rouken Glen is a public park in East Renfrewshire, South-West of Glasgow, Scotland. It was given to the people as a park in 1906. As at other outdoor tea gardens in Scotland, the festive atmosphere prevails for the summer season only. In winter one would be seated in the building, out of the weather. The clothing on the women dates this card from the park's opening to around 1910. The artistic technique of printing a small image, masking it, and spraying airbrush colouring around the mask also had a brief moment of popularity at that time.


The Post Office, Stores, and Tea Rooms, Tarbet, Loch Lomond, Scotland. Tarbet is a small village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, on the west shore of Loch Lomond. The name "Post Office, Stores and Tea Rooms" is an amusing compilation, but what we actually have here are three buildings that connect to one another at right angles -- the large Tarbet Store (which Americans would call a General Store), the Post Office, and the Tea Rooms. This view shows the approach to the buildings, as seen coming up the road.
The Post Office, Stores, and Tea Rooms, Tarbet, Loch Lomond, Scotland. Having walked up the road and turned to the right, we now face the Tarbet Stores, under the proprietorship of Robt. McKean. The Tea Rooms seem to be the small building to the left of that, and the Post Office the building at right angles to both.


Loch Katrine Tea Rooms, Trossachs, Perthshire, Scotland. Loch Katrine is a freshwater loch in the Trossachs area of the Scottish Highlands, east of Loch Lomond. It has served as the main fresh water supply for the city of Glasgow for over 150 years. It was the birthplace of the folkloric hero Rob Roy MacGregor. The word Trossachs refers to an area of wooded glens, braes, and lochs lying to the east of Ben Lomond, now the site of the Trossachs National Park. This photo was taken at exactly 3:00 PM on a spring day, for the tables are decorated with vases filled with flowering apple, plum, or hawthorn branches, and bunches of daffodils.
Old Mill Luncheon Tea Room, Loch Achray Hotel, Trossachs, Perthshire, Scotland. The Old Mill is said to date back to the 9th century, and the Loch Achray Hotel was originally built by the Duke of Montrose in 1868 as a private hunting lodge. From the 1930s onwards it has been operated as a hotel, from which visitors can set out to explore the Trossachs, made famous by the romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott. The woman in this Real Photo Postcard appears to be dressed in the style of the 1950s.

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

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