About 30 years ago I was working on a play at the Theatre Royal, Bath, and while I was there, my parents came down to see the show. The following day we went on a long and enjoyable ramble around the city, ending up in the Pump Room restaurant at teatime.
What made the experience really special – besides the magnificent 60ft room with its polished wooden floor and high Regency ceiling – was the orchestra playing on the balcony. A violinist, cellist and pianist went through an impressive repertoire of chamber music, while the sandwiches, cakes and scones were being served down below. It was like taking tea with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in a scene from Brief Encounter and, joyously, the orchestral tradition lives on as I can testify from regular visits.
The Trio, as the musicians are now called, are all experienced and conservatoire trained, and they play on weekday mornings from 10am to midday, and on Sunday afternoons on a dais at the western end of the room. The atmosphere they create couldn’t be further removed from bland, modern chain coffee and teashops.
The cakes, courtesy of Searcys, aren’t bad either and I recommend the traditional Bath Bun, split in half and spread generously with cinnamon butter.