Did you know there’s a curious connection between Nottingham and Neverland? The story goes that wanders through the city’s Arboretum provided subtle inspirations into the imagination of a young writer at the Nottingham Journal. Take a walk today through the oldest park in city and you can see the elements which may have made their way into J.M Barrie’s subconscious later to be reimagined in Peter Pan. From the cannon captured by the British Army in the Crimean War which sits beneath the Chinese Bell Tower with its distinct pirate connotations to the ornamental lake which hints at the mermaid lagoon.

During the warmer months, it plays host to brightly blooming flower beds, students and city workers soaking up the sunshine and a programme of festival and events, but on a crisp but sunny late autumn afternoon when my partner and I visited for a winter’s walk, it was a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city and welcome break from the bustle of Christmas shoppers seeking black Friday bargains.

Autumnal images of Nottingham Arboretum | Visit Nottinghamshire

The Grade II listed Waverley Lodge has been nestled beside the grand entrance gates to the Arboretum since 1851, and was once home to the Lodge Keeper and Head of Grounds. The Tudor Gothic style building was restored in 2017 and transformed into an invitingly cosy café, a perfect spot to warm up after a wander through the gardens.

When I first received the invitation to visit the café to sample their new Afternoon Tea I was simultaneously delighted and disappointed that I would have to politely decline. Having made the switch to veganism around 6 months ago my thoughts automatically turned to the cream and butter laden scones and cakes traditionally associated with Afternoon Tea. Alas a vegan alternative doesn’t often avail itself to those dreaming of dawdling over dainty finger sandwiches and savouring sweet treats with lashings of hot tea. Imagine my joy when the friendly team informed me that a full vegan menu is available on request!

Afternoon Tea at the Arboretum Cafe | Visit Nottinghamshire

We bagged the best seats in the house by the bay window overlooking the park and settled in to indulge in this quintessentially English tradition, gazing out at the squirrels frolicking just outside. Served on a towering cake stand packed with a selection of sandwiches, bite-sized warm savoury morsels and delicious looking desserts, we knew immediately that we were in for a treat.  Along with the vegan classic of hummus and roasted vegetable sandwiches, the ‘cheese’ and tomato went down a treat, but the ‘chicken and mayo’ was a real hit, leaving even my meat-loving partner thoroughly impressed. By the time we’d made our way through the warm mini-sausage rolls and dainty pizza slices I was beginning to get concerned that I’d be too full to sample the tempting chocolate brownie and spicy ginger cake.

Along with a piping hot pot of tea we were offered a selection of Christmassy cocktails by the friendly and welcoming staff. For those looking for a vintage classic they offer the delightfully retro Snowball, which looked especially festive served with a candy cane coloured eco-friendly straw. I opted for wonderfully warming winter Pimms, served with an abundance of citrus fruit, and couldn’t resist sneaking a sip or two of my partner’s mulled wine, both of which were the perfect compliment to the festive feast on offer.

After a delightfully leisurely afternoon watching the abundant wildlife in the park and feeling more than a little sluggish from all the delicious food, a cup of Nottingham’s own award-winning 200 Degrees coffee was just the thing to revive me ready to tackle some Christmas shopping.  Priced at just £14.95 per person or £7.95 for children, the Afternoon Tea in the charming Arboretum Café is quite possibly the best value in the city, and combined with a gentle stroll around the city’s most historic and beautiful park it is truly a wonderful recipe for time well spent.

Afternoon tea is available daily in the Arboretum Café, alongside a selection of homemade sandwiches, savouries, hearty soups and enticing cakes. To enjoy this indulgent delight yourself, booking is required 48 hours in advance so the team can freshly prepare your feast. They’ll be happy to cater for dietary requirements including vegan and gluten free options.  

This blog was written by Claire Jones, Marketing Assistant at Visit Nottinghamshire. 


The Arboretum Café
Tea Room/Coffee Shop
Arboretum Cafe | Visit Nottinghamshire

Located in the Grade II listed Waverley Lodge on the edge of Nottingham’s oldest public park, the Arboretum café is open seven days a week and serves a selection of hot and cold drinks, homemade sandwiches, soups and snacks alongside cakes, ice creams and sweet treats. Dog-friendly.

Nottingham Arboretum
Parkland / Woodland Garden
Nottingham Arboretum

A historic, beautifully maintained park that is home to an important collection of over 800 trees, award winning Nottingham Arboetum is Nottingham's oldest public park and the closest park to the city centre.



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