The Victorian Teashop

Aunt Agony
"Now get yourself a nice cup of tea and let's see if we can't just sort you out. You silly billy!"

If you would like Aunty to answer your concerns about anything really, then please drop her one of those E-maily type thingies and we'll see what we can do to attract her attention.

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Disclaimer: We realise that Aunty can sound quite rude and opinionated. This is part of the job of an agony aunt and can be swept under the carpet quite neatly by calling it 'tough love' and also by saying Aunty's opinions are not necessarily held or supported by the owners of the Victorian Teashop. Particularly when she insults whole swathes of the population.


Aunt Agony as a young girlAunty Agony, in her younger days, when yet to discover that milk is greatly inferior to tea. She wrote to many a problem page herself before that mistake was eradicated."Milk is just a part of tea, dear", wrote one counsellor"never the whole". Aunty has remembered that lesson all her life and now stands by the credo that "whatever comes out of a silly old cow, is only part of a tasty beverage".












Hello from dear old Aunt Agony...

Well, I have decided the world of tea cannot survive without me, so I have returned to answer your moans and comments. Yes, we're going to sort out a few people who obviously don't know their arse from their elbow, then it's off to the whist drive for me.

27th Dec, 2008

Dear Aunt,

Mick Jagger once said, (in a song) “I got nasty habits, I take tea at three!” Do you find these sort of lyrics shocking or perhaps even offensive, as I do.

Brian Jenkinson

Dear Brian,

Lyrics like that dredge the depths of depravity that even such groups as the ‘sex pistols’ never plumbed. Just the thought of taking tea before four o’clock amounts to treason – or should do. It should be an offense against Queen and Country, even when she’s traveling in the colonies are making sure of future supplies. There should in fact be a ‘Tea Police’ just to make sure people do not transgress.

Sadly though, the owners of the Victorian Teashop break this sacrosanct rule every day they open. Serving as they do not only tea, but also buns and cakes well before four o’clock and sometimes as early as noon, which by anyone’s standards is clearly lunch time and cannot even be passed off as elevens’s.

To glorify the act in a song is unforgivable, and Mr Jagger should know better, being a very big fan of the English game of cricket, where it clearly states in the rules that play should stop at precisely four o’clock (mid-over or not in my opinion). I think Mr Jagger knew full well the importance of his actions when he wrote those words and as far as I am concerned has bowled himself a googley.

Yours with concern, Aunt.

29th May, 2007

Dear all,

I received an e-mail today from someone ranting on about cows udders and natural milk and all the unsavoury things of that sort. I couldn't possibly repeat their letter here since they were probably the worse for wear (whisky orientation wise) and they even suggested putting it in their tea, of all places.

Having said that, my husband used to put whisky in his tea, but he's dead now, God bless him, so it seems true that some habits do indeed die hard!

Some of the points made in the e-mail were highly relevant to today's culture and although I agree with most of the comments made, I cannot agree that women's jeans are a good idea, or that they make any sense at all – I wouldn't be seen dead in them, trampled by a milk herd or not – in fact, I feel they always have that look about them anyway!

Yours with fond effection



I like a nice cup of tea in the morning
For to start the day you see
And at half-past eleven
Well my idea of Heaven
is a nice cup of tea.
I like a nice cup of tea with my dinner
And a nice cup of tea with my tea
And when it's time for bed
There's a lot to be said
For a nice cup of tea.


19th March, 2007

Dear Antigony,

I am a Professor of Creative Grecian philosophy at Derby University and during a recent forage into the dark depths of the library archives I came across a document containing what was said to be a quotation by the great thinker, Plato. Since it regards tea I thought you might like to help me bring it to the attention of the world. It expounds the theory that: “He who mashes his tea long enough, makes fewer enemies”. This I think, constitutes a potentially valuable document in the history of tea.

Look forward to hearing your comments

Professor Hector D. Odyesseus
The upper dorm of the Debora Harry Hall of Residence.

Dear Professor Odyesseus,

According to the work of most scholars, it is generally agreed that tea did not enter Europe until 14th century, so I cannot believe that anyone had drunk tea during the early epoc you speak of, let alone mashed any. By ‘mashed’ I assume you are referring to the more common terminology ‘brewed’ and I therefore get the impression that you are from the North, probably Rotherham, or God forbid, Doncaster. Are there any Professors from that area, or are you, as I suspect, trying to perpetrate a hoax

Now although I believe your entire letter to be a sham I have decided to place it before the public in order to test its credibility and see if they can throw any light on it. Of course, one can never be too careful and if the document really exists, as you say it does, and it indeed originates from the hand of Plato, then your discovery could change the history of tea forever.

In support, I have to mention that Socrates himself made comment in one of his writings of the existence of an object he referred to as a ‘tea cosy’, which he described as more of a hat than a device for warming tea, but if this turns out to be corroborative evidence, not only would the academic world be in awe of your achievement in making the discovery, you would also be the darling of the printing trade, who would then have the task of printing all those history books again at great cost. I often think that this is the reason why there are no really radically new discoveries made these days – people just don’t want to rock the boat – or rock the ‘Noah’s Ark’ at any rate.

Plato, aside, if you really want the name of a good philosopher I can thoroughly recommend Jean Paul Sartre, he does all my philosophy for me and he is very good indeed. “Hell is other people” is one of his more famous and accurate dictums, just to give one fine example.

Regards, your very Aunt Agony (not Antigony)

19th February, 2007

Dear Aunt,

I was born in the year 1887, when I accidentally fell into an ice cream maker and thus I have been frozen for the last 120 years. I have just been thawed out and shock horror! How much of Matlock Bath has changed! I have learned that it is no longer on the Derby-Buxton Mainline, the Royal Hotel has been demolished along with the glass pavilion. And whatever happened to Mary Whittaker's mineral water works where I used to work! Good lord! I hope one can still get a good splash of tea.......

Yours chillingly
Mr Ragglesworthington

Dear Mr Ragglesworthington,

Thank you for your e-mail. They had an ice cream maker like that at the Victorian Teashop, but they got rid of it because of the perennial staff shortage it created – having part time staff is one thing, putting them on ice, quite literally, is another! The person who owns the Teashop (or thinks he does) sold the ice cream maker on Ebay – so whoever bought the device, thinking they’d got a bargain, actually received more than they bargained for! I just hope the world has changed significantly for the better when those poor souls defrost and awaken in years to come.

Speaking of waking up to a changed Matlock Bath – I just hope those silly billies at the Council wake up to the fact that Matlock Bath represents a wasted opportunity that any council in the country would be happy to have within their control.

Having said that, I suppose the Victorian Teashop and one or two other new venues in the village have made a difference lately, and I’m sure the Teashop staff can provide the decent ‘splash of tea’ you speak of, if not the 'Monaco of Derbyshire' Matlock Bath deserves to be – speaking of ‘speaking of’ tea, I’m off to put the kettle on. Those people in the teashop never bring me one.

Yours always Aunt Agony

PS I will publish your letter in my column on the Teashop website, if that’s okay with you. You should feel honoured, I usually publish most of my correspondence in the bin.

30th January, 2007

Dear Dorothy, or whatever?

I gather you do a problem page. My problem is quite simple – Suduko. I got a book full for christmas and I've now had a stomach full! I’ve sent you a copy of the offending puzzle and I await your response. I can’t move on with either my life or my puzzle book until these wretched squares are filled.

Yours truly, Brian Folds

Dear Brian,

I think you have failed to grasp the nature of my column. This ‘problem’ page is more to do with problems of an emotional nature and especially those where the beverage of tea is involved. I am not in the business of solving puzzles such as Suduko or crosswords. In fact, when it comes to challenges like Suduko I am all at sixes and sevens and I believe that particular puzzle involves nines, so what good would I be?

Anyway, unless you find that the tedious nature of Suduko starts to effect your mind and distract you from your tea, I really can’t be of much help.

Your truly, Aunt (by the way I am not called Dorothy)

(Note from the designer: She's called Fanny.)

22nd January, 2007

Dear Aunt,

I am in need of your services. In hope of solace I have been reading the lovely ‘tea quotations’ on your charming new “All about Tea” website and although I find them comforting, and there is no doubt that tea is a great healer, I am currently depressed, discouraged, despondent, disinterested, disgusted, disorganized, disgruntled, disaffected and undisciplined and in short, I am beyond tea! Can you help?

Raymond Dawkins

Dear Raymond,

Don’t be a silly-billy; no one is beyond tea. Put the kettle on and if necessary, try a ‘Disprin’ – just the one though!

Aunty is thinking of you...

(our 'All About Tea' sister site is at:

20th January, 2007

Dear Aunty Agony,

I visited The Victorian Teashop in Matlock Bath over a week ago and I have to say that ever since then I have been suffering what I can only describe as Victorianitous. I have involuntarily taken to wearing bustle skirts and calling everyone “my Good Man”. Is this right and proper? For although I am more than delighted with my newly acquired eloquence, I think that bustle skirts are not becoming on a gentleman. I even took tea with the Vicar yesterday afternoon and spoke of nothing but the Brontes, Queen Victoria and Mr Darcy.

God Save The Queen.
Bertram B. Forthright (formally Bert)

Dear Mr Forthright,

Or may I call you Bert? What a saga. I can only suggest that you return to The Victorian Teashop as soon as you can make yourself available. You have to realize that this sort of behaviour is very unusual outside a conservation area. We have a special blend of tea that will return you to normal and you will be as right as rain in no time at all. You’ll soon be back to watching the television with crumbs all down your front and an overturned can of beer on the cluttered and stained coffee table.

I hope that has painted a graphic picture of what may be in store for anyone who dares to venture outside the reign of Queen Victoria.

Yours with affection Aunt.

2nd January, 2007

Dear Ms Agony,

Happy New Year. During our Christmas shopping my Husband and I popped into the local teashop for a short break. It was a little busy, it being the festive season, and as we queued my husband moved forward and stood next to another woman, with whom he struck up a conversation until I nudged him in the back with my carrier bag.

He swears blind that he had mistook her for me, but I saw him sniffing the air at a wisp of her perfume and he knows full well that I would never wear anything that smelled remotely like Old Spice. Besides, didn’t he realize her voice was that of someone else. I am at a loss to comprehend this behaviour, he normally hovers around behind me and is what your friend and colleague calls a ‘trailer’.

Bethany Briars

Dear Bethany,

I must first say that if you are referring to the so-called owner of the Victorian Teashop when you say “friend and colleague”, you can quite safely drop the word ‘friend’ and leave it at colleague – if that.

Right, having dispensed with my problems, let’s deal with yours. Husbands can be like that, Bethany, even ‘trailers’, given half the chance they’re testing the water and you have to be prepared to take a hard line. Excuses such as: “I thought it was you” are very aggravating because they don’t realise that by failing to recognise you in public, they are denying your ten years, or so, of marriage. However, it is quite possible for a man to stop looking at his wife after a couple of months of marriage, let alone ten years, especially during sex – but that cuts both ways, and we girls don’t close our eyes in the hope of ecstasy for nothing – those brief flashes of Brad Pitt, or Robert Redford (if you’re my age) can be quite uplifting down below.

Anyway, I find the best solution to your problem is to fail to recognise your husband in public on a few occasions – sometimes even on purpose.

Yours truly Aunt Agony

PS You can read all about ‘trailers’ on the weblog page at the

5th December, 2006

Dear Aunt Agony,

Was I too forward in starting one’s Christmas shopping in November? I've got nothing to do now.

Yours in anticipation, Ruby Delacroix.

Dear Ms Delacroix,

I always begin the hunt for Christmas presents as soon as the Autumn Equinox has passed, but here’s my tip, why go to the shops and spend money when you can just root through your cupboards and dig out all the old stuff you don’t need anymore. You’ll only get a few pence for it anyway at the car boot sale and you’d also have to stand around in the cold with all those desperados.

Think what Christmas joy your old junk can bring to all those people you used to call friends – it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘cupboard love’.

A Very Merry Christmas

Aunt Agony

PS A word of warning. When it comes to relatives, you’ll probably have to buy them something because they may well have bought some of your cupboard junk for you anyway and you could end up giving something back to the same person who gave it to you in the first place – worse, if they use the same ‘cupboard retrieval’ technique as you employ, you could end up passing things back and forth for years. Friends are difficult enough to find presents for and it does spoil Christmas and make it seem so unfair having to waste time looking, but relations aren’t even friends anyway, there’re just people we’re stuck with, which makes it all the more unpleasant.

5th December, 2006

Dear Aunt,

If you dislike relations so much, why do you call yourself ‘Aunt’. Aren’t you just making yourself a target of your own criticism?

Yours Truly Helen Goodbody

Dear Helen,

Yes, that’s why it’s agony being an aunt!

Regards, your dearest Aunt.

2nd December, 2006

Dear Aunt Agony,

While clearing out my attic recently, I found an excellent illustration of you, which I have enclosed.

Aunt Agont illustration?


Dear... Whoever?

You are clearly mistaken, the scribble you sent in bears no resemblance to me, whatsoever! For a start I would never use such down-market crockery, let alone a common tea tray made from tin. The outfit the woman is wearing, who ever she is, would never suit my delicate complexion and I would never pose in front of a yellow background.

I think if all that has not clearly dispelled your erroneous and perhaps malicious claims, I have had my publisher reproduce my real likeness once again in the margin.

Yours Aunt in Agony

16th November, 2006

Dear Ms Agony,

I recently bought a wide screen television and sat down with a nice cup of tea to watch it. Why is it that the movies they show are still miles wider than the wide screen? Not only that, normal TV is expanded and just makes everyone look fat!

Yours truly disgruntled of Knightbridge

Dear Truly Disgruntled,

I know exactly what you mean. Watching wide screen TV is like looking through a letter box – not my idea of comfort at all. I find it rather like drinking a nice cup of tea from one of those excessively large mugs they give you in some of the poorer quality teashops you find in shopping malls. Give me a nice cup and saucer and my old 14 inch Bush anytime.

I also take your point about the stretching effect on normal television. I feel most sorry for people like David Dickinson and that nice man Mr Elton John who obviously do their utmost to look trim and then the telly spoils it all for them. Think of the ridicule that nice little chap Jamie Oliver has to go through at school!

It's tough on people like Posh Spice too – looking like a stick next to David Beckham in OK magazine is one thing, appearing on the lottery show on BBC1 is quite another. "That Extra Half an Inch", I think not – it's the extra three inches she should worry about. Is all that slimming and dieting worth it? She'd be better off reforming the spice girls and standing adjacent to Emma Bunton.

Just think yourself lucky you're not interesting enough to warrant being on television. I know they say it adds five pounds, but it's more like two stone now.

Yours Aunt agony.

(Note from the designer: Aunt Agony is just jealous. I think Emma Bunton is fabulous and I wouldn't redesign her for the world)

7th October, 2006

Dear old Aunt Agony,

I believe my husband is taking tea with another woman. I found stains on his 'trouser' and he came home smelling of Darjeeling. Should I change my brand of tea. We have been together for twenty-three years and he has never strayed before.

Yours, with hope in my heart, Evette.

Dear Evette,

Do not worry in the slightest about the possibility of your husband having tea with another women. These things pass and if he has been happy with you and your brand of tea for over twenty years I should say that it seems just a fad. With luck, she may well take sugar and he will then immediately spot trouble ahead and return home with his tail firmly between his legs.

Your real worry is the tea-stained 'trouser', which can be very bothersome indeed. Try dabbing the trouser with a little warm water with a salt solution and everything should come out fine. Dab them with your husband still in them for a speedier remedy to your dilemma.

Yours with affection, Aunty.

27th September, 2006

I have it on good authority, from no less a personage than Sir John Betjeman, that my Monty has been seen with a 'very ordinary little woman', sitting in the ingle-nook of a Bath Teashop. What am I to do?

best wishes and praying for the return of sanity.

Beth from Bath.

Dear Beth,

This one particularly worries me because I do rather think you are heading for a breakdown. Having said that, paraphrasing your fears of betrayal with poems and literature is quite common. I should just be thankful that you have picked a very short poem to paraphrase as this may indicate a short affair is on the cards and pray to God that your husband is not a 'thumping crook' after all.

I was in a Bath teashop once and in a ingle-nook, and I can tell you that it is not the experience it is all cracked up to be – especially with the ever present threat of a soot fall or worse. "Little lower than Angles"? I think not!

Yours with affection, Aunty.

*For those of you with little or no literary knowledge I shall get my webmastermistress or webwoman or whatever to print out Betjeman's original poem on this page. I can only add that I am so very glad that it was not in a 'Matlock Bath' Teashop. The enormity of the scandal would have forced one to leave the country.

*In a Bath Teashop

“Let us not speak, for the love
we bear one another –
Let us hold hands and look.”
She, such a very ordinary
little woman;
He, such a thumping crook;
But both, for a moment, little lower
than the angels
In the teashop’s ingle-nook.

© John Murray publishers, London. From John Betjeman’s Collected Poems (4th Edition, 1979)

25th September, 2006

Aunt Agony!

Why aren't teashops ever open at tea time? Either that or they're just closing when I arrive!

Yours sincerely an irate tea lover.

Dear Irate tea lover,

I know the feeling well. There is no disappointment greater than that of missing the opportunity to sit and linger over a good cup of tea and have a chin wag at the appropriate time of day. However, it must be remembered that tea time in England is strictly at 4.00pm and people do make the mistake of turning up at five past.

At the Victorian Teashop in Matlock Bath the owners do try to stay open while 5.30pm or even beyond 6.00pm very occasionally, but at that time it has to be remembered that they are then forced to endure the nightmarish sight of people walking past stuffing fish and chips into their mouths without the slightest regard for their palate and what vinegar may do to spoil the taste of a good darjeeling. There seems little hope of a change until perhaps that nice little cook Jamie Oliver gets through to them that chips are not quite the health food they were once made out to be.

In recent years the streets have become swollen with more and more scenes of 'pigging out' I think they call it, but I do feel sorry for these people who have quite obviously grown too fat to eat indoors. I hear that special help is being offered to them at places all over the country where you see the sign 'take-a-way'. I have seen it a great deal myself lately, so it's good to know that help it at hand for these poor wretches. My advice to you is to go home, draw the blinds and pour yourself a nice cup of refreshing tea.

Yours with affection, Aunty.

21st September, 2006

Dear Aunt,

I visited a teashop in Herefordshire the other day and was shocked to find that they also sold coffee. I was horrified. I hope you can help in some way.

Yours sincerely, Shocked of Reading.

Dear Shocked but not forgotton,

If I was from Reading or had to live anywhere near the place I would be in shock too – but enough of my hates and fears. Let's deal with yours.

Please relax at once. Take a deep breath, because what I have to tell you is quite disturbing. You will be shocked again no doubt to find out that the owners of The Victorian Teashop in Matlock Bath also serve coffee. Not only that, they offer it in all sorts of trumped up guises such as cappuccino, latte and espresso – they even sell instant! What's the world coming to?

Worse than this though, some people come in and actually ask for coffee!

Thankfully there are still some discerning folk about though because some, unsure as to whether a 'teashop' sells coffee, check first, much to the disgruntlement of the owners who are usually unnecessarily abrupt with them, mumbling something like: "Of course we effing do you nerd". These poor people, having found out that it is not a fully fledged teashop that stands bravely by its flagship product, leave immediately in disgust and good for them I say!

Always yours Aunt

The Victorian Teashop

114 North Parade, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, DE4 3NS England 01629 583325

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