In the 20th century, the acclaimed author C.S. Lewis wrote, “tea should be taken in solitude.” Today, there are corners of Southern Ontario that offer exactly the kind of peaceful solitude required for an afternoon tea in the 21st century. If you find yourself thirsting with a posh kind of wanderlust, a day at Langdon Hall Country House, less than 10km from Cambridge, could be just your cup of tea.
Langdon Drive, a fairly long and winding road of great epicurean personality, prepares you for the visit. Entering Langdon Hall Country House, you set foot in an estate with 154 years of history. Don’t expect an overwhelming grand hall to greet you but rather a venerable and charismatic country house. It’s equally Langdon Hall’s history as well as its charm that make it the perfect getaway.
The Langdon Hall estate, previously Cruickston Park, was purchased in 1858 by Matthew Wilks. Around the turn of the century, Wilks’s son, Eugene Langdon Wilks took possession and transformed the estate into a Federal Revival style summer home, with a palatial thirty rooms and grounds totalling more than25,000 square feet that would remain in the Langdon Wilks bloodline until 1982.
The latest owners, architect duo William Erlandson Bennett and Mary Beaton, developed their own vision for the summer home—an idyllic country house hotel, with 52 guest rooms and suites, a full-service spa and a celebrated restaurant.
Bennett and Beaton carefully incorporated the new into the traditional to create a tasteful and unique experience. Think, North American luxury and convenience coupled with English graciousness and charm. Inside, Beaton meticulously furnished each room with exemplary finesse. Her decision to decorate with the estate’s original paintings maintains a connection with Langdon Hall’s past. outside, the decidedly English gardens, the broad sweeping, well-manicured lawns, and the handsomely wooded slopes invite you to pause and wonder about life at the turn of the century.
Langdon Hall is nestled in nearly untouched countryside. Its playfully named trails, Woodland Walk, Deer Run, Maple Lane and Grand Allée among them, offer visitors exceptional strolls through the meadows and wetlands of Carolinian Canada. And if you meander down Maple Lane, not only will you walk down a path symbolic of Langdon Hall’s unique approach to locally grown produce but also right in its kitchen.
Alongside Head Garderner Mario Munitz, pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson, and Executive Chef Jason Bangerter plans his dishes with careful consideration of local and seasonal product. Langdon maple syrup, for example, comes directly from Maple Lane. Sarah Villamere, Langdon Hall’s current pastry chef, is also inspired by the seasonal delights available on Langdon grounds.
Villamere mixes flavours and textures, churning butter and drizzling honey from Langdon Hall’s very own apiary into unique yet traditional desserts. This commitment to quality has earned Langdon Hall’s Dining Room the Five Diamond Award from AAA/CAA, distinguishing it as the only five-diamond award-winning restaurant in Ontario, as well as membership with Relais & Châteaux, an association of the world’s finest hoteliers.
Stepping into the Conservatory Sun-room, hushed, soothing chatter, accompanied by soft background music and clinking of silver spoons and porcelain, settles you in the right frame of mind to enjoy a classy cup’o’tea on a very majestic wicker chair.
The tea is loose-leaf tea at its finest. From classic Orange Pekoe, to Darjeeling and Oolong to Herbal teas, all teas set the highest standards for Canadian afternoon tea. And the treats are all Langdon Hall originals. Saugeen Honey Butter and Devonshire Cream look ready to jump on the freshly baked Orange Buttermilk and Apricot-Ginger Scones that I let slowly dissolve on my tongue, savouring every crumb. After, I am presented with double-tiered cake stands stacked with delicate pastries. Perfectly crisp Carrot and Thyme Biscotti and moist Pistachio Brown Butter Financier were my favourites on the sweet side.
The classy Monforte Dairy Cheese Straws and revitalizing Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream Cheese on Endive (gluten-free) were my top pick on the savoury side. There is an art to travel, and there is an art to the custom of drinking tea in the afternoon; and you can experience both at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa – it’s closer than you think.