A few miles from cambridge is the small village of Grantchester. The village stands on the River Granta and nearby is the Orchard, where tea and cakes are served to discerning customers.
The Orchard, first planted in 1868, became a Tea Garden purely by chance. A group of Cambridge students asked Mrs Stevenson of Orchard House if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees rather than, as was usual, on the front lawn of the House. They were unaware that, on that spring morning in 1897, they had started a great Cambridge tradition.
As the fame grew students used to take a punt down the Granta and cross the fileds to the Orchard. Very little has changed since those days, deckchairs still sit below the friut trees but visitors now arrive by car.
The Stevensons also took in lodgers at Orchard House and in 1909 Rupert Brook moved in. The charismatic young Brooke drew a constant stream of visitors, and eventually became the centre of a circle of friends, later dubbed by Virginia Woolf the 'Neo-Pagans'. Brooke had fallen in love with his idyllic life in Grantchester, and, while in a homesick mood on a trip to Berlin, wrote one of his best-known poems, 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester': the famous final lines immortalising afternoon tea in the Orchard.
Brooke was sent Gallipoli aboard a troopship and on 23rd April 1915, aged 27, he died from blood poisoning. That same evening he was buried in an olive grove on the Greek island of Skyros, where a monument has since been built over his grave. Just a few months earlier he had written 'The Soldier', containing the prescient lines:
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England
There is also a small museum to Rupert Brooke and the Grantchester set in the grounds of the Orchard.
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