A family affair at The Café at Spring Cottage in Rivington
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
Follow the trail of crumbs to this Rivington café. But you’ll have to be quick
The Café at Spring Cottage, on the outskirts of Rivington, looks like it could belong in a fairytale. Surrounded by glorious countryside, with deer and birds as its neighbours, the gardens around the lovely old building are adorned with bunting and fairy lights. But like all magical places, it isn't terribly easy to find. Even modern sat nav won't save you from speeding past the café's subtle signs at the top of the lane.
'It sounds odd but we didn't want too many people to come along when we first opened,' says Jenni Seddon, who owns and runs Spring Cottage with sister Rosie, mum Judith and stepdad David.
'Rosie and I are both social workers by profession and we wanted to ease ourselves into this new venture, we didn't want to be doing everything in a rush. We wanted to learn slowly because that's the way it sticks, or at least that's what they say.'
But it's been such a success the sisters have now given up their former careers and work at the café full time. So, had they always harboured a burning desire to swap caseloads for cake tins?
'Not at all. When my mum leased it, it was never meant to be a café,' explains Jenni. 'The whole family knew the house - it was in family folklore because my gran had visited two old ladies that lived in it when she was a girl. Rosie had come here when it was a children's nursery.
'But mum originally wanted it to be a family home, with enough room to host family and friends and, importantly, to have the fanciest coffee machine she could find.'
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That glorious coffee machine now has pride of place behind the counter which is made from old railway sleepers. But Spring Cottage didn't open as a café until Jenni got married.
'We had a fairy-tale, rustic wedding here with a marquee,' says Jenni. 'One of the guests asked if she could copy our wedding here, then another and another until we had become, by accident, a wedding spot.
'So, we decided it would make sense to have a café alongside that: it was really all serendipity and happenstance.'
That was in 2016 and while today the café is still a venue for weddings, it's also used for art, yoga and pilates classes. It's become so popular bookings for lunch or even a midweek coffee and cake are a must.
'We're an open secret, although we're used to people ringing up and telling us they're lost - we've become experts in road directions,' laughs Rosie, who enjoys welcoming people - and their well-behaved, towel dried dogs - to the café.
The family has a commitment to locally-sourced ingredients, keeping food miles low. Fruit and vegetables come from a local greengrocer which determines the dishes they make. Cakes are made locally. The gloriously named Hummingbird Cake - a carrot cake and banana cake hybrid - is the most popular.
There's lots of vegan and gluten free options too. It's hard to ignore the changing seasons at the Café at Spring Cottage. So when the wood burner is lit and the shadows draw in, Rosie prepares her favourite dish: chilli served in a tiffin.
'It has three layers: rice in the bottom, chilli in the middle and accompaniments in the third, which means it can be tipped out bit by bit and eaten at leisure,' says Jenni. 'It just shouts autumn, as do our soups which always feature the best veg of the day.'
Sometimes a dash of glamour comes to the café. The women's brother, This is England star Joe Gilgun, visits Spring Cottage whenever he is in the country.
'He is away a lot but he makes regular trips back because, like all the family, he adores it here and, of course, he loves our food. He has to, doesn't he - he is our big brother!' smiles Jenni.