Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sketching High Tea at Fortnum & Mason with Liz Steel

Yesterday I spent a hugely enjoyable afternoon with my friend and fellow urban sketcher Liz Steel ( Liz and BorrominiSketching Architecture ) in a very small area of Piccadilly in London.  It involved:
  • a visit to one of my favourite book shops Hatchards
  • a visit to the the 245th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which Liz had never been to before. It provided an interesting comparison to the shows she sees in Sydney, Australia.
  • finished off by a walk back across the road to Fortnum & Mason and the real purpose of out get-together - a major chinwag and sketching session while having tea and cakes in the the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.  We arrived at 4.15pm and left shortly before 9pm!

My Lobster Omelette Victoria with Lobster Bisque and Shaved Truffle
 and Liz's paintbox
Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Above and below you'll see the sketches we made while enjoying our cup of tea and a few morsels!  There are bigger versions of the photo on my Making A Mark Facebook Page and in Liz Steel is in London and sketching High Tea! on Making A Mark.


We started at Hatchards in Piccadilly where we found the Tea and Cake London book which had been recommended to Liz.  It looked very interesting - but since they only had one copy I'm going to have to order a copy.  I'm very partial to a spot of tea and cake in nice tearooms and cafes!

Royal Academy of Arts

The exhibition was busy and it was a joy for me to see again the tapestries A Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry See 10 reasons to visit the RA Summer Exhibition 2013. I'm more impressed every time I see them.

Etchings by Norman Ackroyd were also much admired!

On the left is my photograph of the RA with its gates shut which I took as we left F&M.  You don't often see those huge gates closed.

The Tea Menu
Single estate leaf and classic blends

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon  

We had a lovely High Tea and discussed all manner of things within our areas of experience and expertise. We are both inveterate "I'll just make a note of that at the back of my sketchbook" people!

However back to the foodie aspect.

There are two menus - one for the food and the other for the tea.  It's like a wine list - but it's just tea which I think this makes the Diamond Tea Salon the equivalent of tea drinkers heaven.  (Did I mention that you get refills throughout as well?)
  • First course:  
    • I had a the Lobster Omelette Victoria with Lobster Bisque and Shaved Truffle - which was divine - I got halfway through the omelette and then stopped and sketched it (see above).
    • Liz had the Tempura Courgette Flower with Whipped Peroche Goat's Cheese and Truffle Honey.  
  • Then we sketched the cream tea and patisserie (see below) - although scones kept disappearing as I sketched....
  • Then we got stuck into the cream tea - and more cups of tea!  Two scones each, plus clotted cream and lime curd and wild bilberry jam!
High tea at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • We sketched the patisseries twice - in their original location at the top of the cake stand and then again lower down so we got a top down perspective.  For the record, I numbered them and then wrote down the descriptions.....

Patisserie in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum & MasonPen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

At 7.30pm we took a photo of the table, art media and sketches - and "the still life" which were still uneaten!  Such is the discipline of urban sketchers who put sketching before eating!

Our table at 7.30pm - after three hours of eating, talking, sketching, eating, sketching etc
I'd started three separate sketches while Liz worked her way across a big double spread.
Finally, we decided the patisserie needed to be bagged for later and we finished with a slice of "proper cake" - in this case a Coconut and Lime Cake with Raspberries and a raspberry Mascarpone Cheese Cream.

Coconut and Lime Cake with Raspberry Mascarpone Cream - it was pale lime colour!
Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

So all in all a good time was had by both of us and I look forward to Liz's next visit to London - and more tea and cakes and sketching!


  1. A visit to the Tea salon is not cheap - however the food is good, the staff and service are excellent and there's no rush to leave your table.  Neither Liz nor I had any lunch beforehand and I didn't have dinner when I got home. So if you think of it a bit like a meal out at somewhere decent the cost starts to look much more reasonable.  More details on their menu.
  2. When I got home I whipped out my Luminance coloured pencil which is the same shade as the Fortnum & Mason colour for its china and strengthened the colour you can see in the photographs.


  1. Sounds a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. Great sketches!

  2. Loved the patisseries sketch! And these desserts look delicious. Thanks for another great blog.

  3. Bliss! And beautiful drawings, Katherine.

  4. I was thinking about when we had lunch there Robyn - it's the same room - they've made it over into a "High Tea" Salon!


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