Cost – £40.00 incl. tour (Nov 2019)
Parking and Access – There is a large car park to the side of The Jockey Club, which is situated right in the centre of Newmarket. This is an old building that was not designed with accessibility in mind. There is a step just inside the main entrance and there are some stairs to reach the room where Afternoon Teas are served. The main toilet facilities are upstairs. However, I believe there are accessible toilets elsewhere, though I did not visit them.
Background – The Jockey Club Rooms are situated in a lovely building right in the centre of Newmarket, the home of horse racing. This is a private club for the members of the Jockey Club. However, on a few occasions each year, the club has events run by Discover Newmarket. One of these events is a tour of the rooms, followed by an Afternoon Tea.
Having been past the buildings many times over the years, we thought it would be very interesting to see what was inside.
We booked the event many months earlier, then waited for the day to arrive. On the day, we followed the instructions we had been given on how to get into the building and joined 38 other people ready for the tour.
The Jockey Club Rooms are filled with valuable works of art depicting anything to do with horse racing. There is even a life-size statue outside of the horse Hyperion.
We were shown around a few rooms containing many works of art, whilst our knowledgeable guide told us the history of horse racing and its connection with Newmarket. It was very interesting, even to those with little interest in horse racing.
At the end of the tour we were shown into the dining room for our Tea.
Contents – four rectangular sandwiches (we had smoked salmon, ham and tomato, egg mayonnaise and coronation chicken). 1 medium scone, a dish of strawberry jam and a dish of clotted cream. A piece of carrot cake, a ginger macaroon, a ball of chocolate mousse and a mini dessert of lemon syllabub. A glass of prosecco and a pot of tea.
Options available – Dietary requirements could be catered for by request in advance.
Comments – The event started with a tour of the Jockey Club Rooms led by a guide. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and told us all about the history of horse racing and of Newmarket. He was very interesting and very listen-to-able. We are not particularly interested in horse racing but found the tour informative and we both enjoyed it.
The tour ended at the dining room where a long table was laid out for all of the participants of the tour.
There were forty places laid out along the table. There was a cake stand between four people and plates of sandwiches between two people. There was also a plate with small sausage rolls between four and a plate containing dishes of jam and clotted cream between around three people.
The table was laid with square white plates and teacups and saucers, plus a smaller rectangular white plate alongside the square plate and a champagne flute each. There were white linen napkins and a knife, fork and teaspoon each.
We all sat around the huge table and were poured a glass of prosecco each. This was followed by the arrival of a white teapot between two containing the tea. The milk was already on the table in small white jugs.
The tea was just the right strength for us. It was made with teabags. We were able to get a second pot of tea when we needed it.
We started with a delicious warm sausage roll each.
These were made with the famous Newmarket sausages and were really good.
We then moved onto the sandwiches. These seemed to vary in filling along the table and our plate contained three ham sandwiches but only one smoked salmon. When we had finished our plate, a second plate arrived between the two of us and the two people opposite us. This second plate contained several cucumber and cream cheese and some cheese sandwiches. All of the sandwiches were fresh and well filled. There was a mix of brown and white bread.
The cakes and scones were served on a shiny round metal three tier cake stand.
The scones on our stand consisted of three fruit scones and one smaller plain scone. We ended up with one fruit and the small plain scone between us, as the stand was between us and the couple on the other side of the table. However, we asked if there were any further scones and were given another plain scone between us. There was plenty of both jam and clotted cream.
The cakes all looked lovely on the stand. The top layer contained the carrot cake and the ginger macaroon whilst the bottom layer had the chocolate mousse and the lemon syllabub. The carrot cake was moist and tasty. The macaroon was plain and chewy, with a ginger cream centre, which was delicious.
The chocolate mousse was shaped into a ball with a small mint crisp on the top, making it look like a chocolate apple. It was really yummy. Finally, there was the mini dessert of lemon syllabub topped with dried raspberry. This was my absolute favourite. It was creamy, sharp and delicious. I loved it! Luckily for me, we were a bit slow eating, meaning we were still there when others were leaving. I was able to acquire a second untouched syllabub from another stand!!
Service was carried out by several waiters who were touring the room constantly. They were very helpful and reasonably attentive.