The Oak RoomThursday, June 10th, 2010
Our market town is steeped in history with an abundance of visitor attractions and shops and restaurants for visitors to explore. One hidden gem with historic credentials that is well worth seeking out is the tea rooms at The Oak Room located in Antelope Walk in South Street.
The Oak Room dates back to 1589 and was famously used by Judge Jeffreys ‘the Hanging Judge’ as the courtroom of the Bloody Assizes when in September of 1685, 302 cases were heard, of which a total of 74 of the accused were executed, 175 transported, 9 fined or whipped and 54 discharged. Jeffreys didn’t believe in half measures and hanged, transported, whipped and fined hundreds of the unfortunate accused.
During this period Judge Jeffreys lodged at 6 High West Street (now the restaurant, Judge Jeffreys), and for his own protection used a secret passage linking his house with the Oak Room of the Antelope Hotel. This tunnel is wide and high, with enough room for two to three people to walk side by side.
The ghost of Judge Jeffreys is said to haunt the Antelope courtyard.
The Oak Room – Present Day
Today the The Oak Room has a much more pleasurable and relaxing use.
Now housing traditional style tea rooms the Oak Room retains the beautiful oak-panelling and has a wonderfully welcoming ambience. Table service is provided by waitresses in ‘Nippy’ uniform, based on the old style Lyons Corner House service.
The whole experience is so very different from that of modern coffee chains common to our high streets these days.
A customer review on www.dorchesterpeople.co.uk said
“A visit to the Oak Room tea room in Dorchester is like a step back in time! The waitresses wear old-fashioned pinnies and serve cucumber sandwiches, cream teas and home made cakes. The Oak Room also does good, simple hot food like soup and jacket potatoes, so it’s a great place to stop for something warming while out shopping in Dorchester.”
The tea rooms are open every day from 9.30 am to 4.30pm (except Sunday) serving morning coffee, mouth watering light lunches, afternoon teas and delicious Dorset cream teas.
After a refreshing snack you’ll be ready to explore the present day Antelope walk which still retains its historical charm and ambience with an arcade of tempting shops lining the pedestrianised cobbled street. The Tourist Information Centre is sited at the top end of the walk from where you can find more details on Dorchester and its tourist attractions.