After a multi-million pound project to open its 900 year history to the public, Delapre Abbey has removed its covers and opened its cafe.
The new conservatory cafe is a beautiful reveal and the Billiard Room next door is a pleasant space to take afternoon tea. But are the prices putting people off visiting? The gorgeous grounds and walled gardens are open to the public for free, and the cafe should be a popular stop-off for visitors. But the prices – plus a lack of shade on the terrace outside – have provoked less than complimentary reviews. The prices are high – £2.25 for a plastic bottle of pop, £1.25 for a bag of crisps, or over £3 for a fancy coffee – it’s just too much at this stage of the development, however good the cake. There were bound to be teething problems, especially as it replaced a much-loved cafe staffed by volunteers. If they don’t sort it out, regulars will just bring their own and the abbey will lose not only a revenue stream but the goodwill of its regular visitors.
Delepre Abbey is a wonderful jewel tucked away in Northampton and worth many visits, even just for a wander around it’s lovely gardens and trees or to walk a dog on the parkland. There are culturally significant sculptures hidden away in the gardens, including Woman with Fish which so outraged the gentle folk of the town (or simply due to vandals) it was moved to Delepre from the town centre. It will be a great attraction when the work is completed and I hope it will get the visitor support it needs.