The Lightbox, Woking - On the Tea Shop Trail
- Credit: Various
At The Lightbox in Woking, not only will you find an award-winning art gallery and museum but also an excellent café with some fantastic fare
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2015
Need to know:
The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking GU21 4AA. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm, and Sundays, 11am to 4.30pm. Tel: 01483 737800. Web: thelightbox.org.uk. Twitter: @TheLightbox
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If you’re passionate about pastries and the arts then The Lightbox gallery, museum and café in Woking is the place to visit.
This award-winning arts venue opened in September 2007 and is also home to Woking’s Story, an interactive museum about the town’s history.
On the day I visited, I enjoyed both an exquisite afternoon tea and eye-opening exhibitions I’d expect to see in London.
One of the highlights is the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art with a stunning collection of sculptures.
The hot ticket in town (until Sunday July 5) is for Damien Hirst: New Religion – a collection of work from 2005 dealing with issues such as love, seduction and mortality.
Cakes and pastries…
Afternoon Tea is a special occasion consisting of finger sandwiches with a range of fillings, a variety of cakes, scones with jam and clotted cream, macaroons and a pot of Teapigs tea with a choice of flavours and unlimited cups (£12.50 per person). The carrot cake was perfectly moist while the macaroons satisfied sweet cravings in a good selection of flavours (rose, pistachio, chocolate, lemon and more).
Cakes are made by Barlows, an independent local team, and also supplied by Pinnock’s Coffee House in Ripley. The three top-selling cakes are apparently the lemon drizzle (£2.10), Snickers gluten-free (£2.20) and carrot (£2.10).
As well as Teapigs teas available in breakfast and herbal (£1.60), there’s a range of coffees: cappuccino (£1.90), latte (£1.90) and Americano (£1.90). Coffee is from local supplier Redber Coffee, based in Merrow, Guildford, who have even developed a special Lightbox blend.
On the menu…
If you fancy a snack or lunch, you can choose from freshly-made soups, chilli served with nachos, wraps, baguettes, paninis or focaccias. The best-sellers are vegetable soups (£4) and meat soups (£4.50), served with a hunk of fresh bread.
The café design is inspired by the modern architecture of the gallery. As such, the décor is light and welcoming and the colours complement the wood used on the front of the building.
There are 12 tables, with the most popular being the sofa by the café doors as it has the best light and is a good spot for people-watching.
The courtyard canal garden also looked like it would be a relaxing place to hang out on a sunny day and to admire the unique architecture.
Check out the ‘Taste of Art’ exhibition in the café featuring a rotation of local artists.
The Afternoon Tea at The Lightbox was a delight –and very generous given that we had some scones left on the plate. I was impressed with the Ingram Collection and will definitely be back with my family to check out the Damien Hirst exhibition and that fascinating museum about Woking’s history. I left feeling lucky to have discovered both culture and cakes in Woking’s inspirational arts centre.
For a special treat, the café is starting a new Jazz Brunch on the last Sunday of the month. Enjoy a lazy brunch whilst listening to a live jazz act and then take a tour of the gallery (£19.95 per person).
Louise Johncox’s parents, Peter and Frankie, ran Peter’s tea shop in Weybridge from 1958 until 2000 when they retired. Louise has written a book about her parents’ tea shop, The Baker’s Daughter, which is out now in all good bookshops (see louisejohncox.com/index.htm)