Belstone has been without a tearoom ever since the much-loved establishment at The Barton closed in 2001. In 2011 I finally found a potential venue, a dilapidated room tucked away behind the Methodist Chapel in the centre of the village.
The Chapel itself was built in 1890; the room at the back had been built in the 1920s for use as a Sunday School, but had been virtually un-used for several decades. Ivy was creeping in through broken windows, the floorboards were rotting and the plaster was falling off in many places, but the roof and outside walls were sound.
With the agreement of the Methodist authorities this room has now been completely renovated as The Old School Tearoom. The work took five months to complete, including new windows, flooring, insulation, accessible toilet, and wood-burning stove.
Where possible existing features were re-used, with old wood panelling now fronting the kitchen units and the benches retained as seating or made into shelves. The original granite wall of the Chapel, which had been hidden under plaster, was dramatically revealed during the work, and now forms a striking feature of the tearoom.