Philippa James visits The Glass House at Stydd

The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse - Credit: Archant

After a high-flying career in broadcasting, Alison Brown is now making the tea. And she loves it. Philippa James reports. PHOTOGRAPHY: KIRSTY THOMPSON

The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse - Credit: Archant

So just how did a woman, who started out as understudy to Sue Barker on A Question of Sport and appeared on the first ever breakfast show with a boyish Eamonn Holmes, end up running a café-bar and tea room in deepest Lancashire?

The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse - Credit: Archant

Simple really. After two decades at the BBC, Alison Brown, a former Radio Lancashire producer went for tea at Stydd Nursery and fell in love with it. ‘The place was just so charming,’ she says.

Alison’s husband knew about the nursery, with its plants and eclectic mix of bits and bobs, and they popped into the tearoom when it had just three tables and a local lady serving scones.

The nursery closed but happily re-opened three years later. However, the tea rooms remained shut. Alison spent a bit of time learning the culinary ropes at her brother’s restaurant, The Plate at Backridge Farm near Clitheroe, and then agreed with owner Stephen Fullalove to open The Glass House.

Alison makes her credentials clear on a blackboard proudly displaying where her supplies come from. ‘Bacup is the furthest place my food to travel from, with the exception of the fantastic chorizo and hams from Levanter Foods,’ she says.

Alison has a free-range policy and will be growing her own herbs, the fresh mint tea is delicious and lettuces comes from beds behind the kitchen. There was also a locally made Lancashire Pie which is gorgeous mix of black pudding, sausage and Lancashire cheese. Alison is helped by Ann, a second year trainee chef from Accrington and Rossendale College at the weekends.

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The Glass House is very informal with a Spanish feel - not surprising when you discover Alison’s family have had a property in Spain for 30 years. Some basic, food-related Spanish lessons are one of the many projects coming up along with cake clubs and networking events. She has just had her first booking for a wedding reception, in this most unusual of settings.It’s a total change from her sedentary job in broadcasting.

In fact, Alison says running the business has helped her discover a way to lose weight, get fit and sleep soundly for eight hours a night!

The Glass House at Stydd near Ribchester is open Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm. For more details go to

Three for tea

1. The exotic sounding Cafe d’Lune is beside the estuary at Conder Green just south of Lancaster. This is a great area for walkers (especially if you like being on the flat) and cyclists. It offers everything from an ice cream to a hearty meal with outdoor seating for sunny days. Satnav: LA2 0AN.

2. Bashall Barn has grown like topsy - from a farm shop to a visitor centre with retail outlets, a coffee shop, ice cream parlour and national award winning restaurant which seats 120. The food, including many Lanky dishes, is homemade. It’s near Waddington in the gloriously named Twitter Lane. Satnav: BB7 3LQ

3. Cobble Hey Farm & Gardens is in the beautiful Bowland Fells and its award-winning tea shop (great cakes) is ideal after the little ones have taken you to see the farm animals - lamb feeding and chick holding are often available. It’s at Claughton on Brock near Garstang. Satnav: PR3 0QN