Cricket is one of very few sports that can claim a globally recognised spiritual home. While cricket was played long before Thomas Lord built his ground in North West London in the early 1800s it was here that the sport became an important part of English social scene and it was here that many of cricket's greatest matches would be played out in the following 200 years.
I had made my first visit to Lord's 30 years ago to watch my home county Nottinghamshire play in a cup final. On several subsequent visits to watch both domestic and international matches I observed as extensive renovation and restoration of the famous old ground brought it firmly into the 21st century.
The Pavilion at any cricket ground seems to exude an air of exclusivity to the ordinary fan and nowhere more so than at Lord's. On every visit I had stood at the entrance to the famous Lord's pavilion, watching with curiosity as dapper men decked out in their bacon and eggs MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) ties would shuffle past the stern-looking doorman and into their hallowed sanctuary. An intriguing, closed world existed for me behind those wooden doors.
So it was with much excitement that I accepted an invitation to attend an afternoon tea for two in the Long Room at Lord's: I would finally be able to see the inside of this most famous institution.
Afternoon tea at Lord's offers visitors the chance to see a little bit behind the scenes at the famous ground. The package includes a short tour that takes in the home dressing room and the museum. For those who have no interest in cricket perhaps the history and legends linked to their surroundings will pass them by; cricket lovers on the other hand will be drawn by the opportunity to stare out from the balcony on which so many England stars have stood.
The hosts try to provide a happy balance between the cricket fans on the tour and those who are only here for the food. Barely 15 minutes in a museum where I would happily have spent a couple of hours left me determined to return, while others in our group seemed happy to move on.
At £38 a head the tea is priced on a par with other high-end London afternoon tea venues such as the Ritz or the Dorchester. The food is good and plentiful with extra helpings for those who manage somehow to clear their first set of sandwiches, scones and cakes. The Long Room meanwhile makes a very grand setting for a special meal and we noticed several family groups who were marking birthdays and anniversaries.
Afternoon tea at Lord's is worth considering even without the sporting interest that the venue holds, although I suspect it is the cricket fans who will get the most from their visit to the Lord's Pavilion. For me it was probably the first place I had ever been where a plate full of cakes was of secondary importance to my immediate surroundings.
For more information on Afternoon Tea Packages visit the Lord's Afternoon Tea web page.
This post is written by Andy Jarosz who owns the 501 Places travel blog.
Disclosure: We were guests of the Marylebone Cricket Club for our visit to Lord's.
Photos: All images are supplied by the MCC.