Owners of ‘jewel in the crown of rural East Devon’ to retire after 33 years

After more than 30 years of welcoming people from all over the world, the owners of one of East Devon’s most celebrated farmhouse tearooms are retiring.

Julia and David Williams, of Royal Oak Farm in Cotleigh, will finally get the chance to put their feet up next month.

They will be officially retiring on September 1. New owners are expected to continue the business once they have settled in.

Royal Oak Farm is renowned for its traditional farmhouse lunches, cream teas in the summer and mince pies in the winter.

It has been featured on BBC One’s ‘A Taste of Britain’ with Janet Street Porter and Brian Turner, and on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage’ series.

Housed in a 17th century former coaching inn, the tearoom has enthralled visitors for decades with original beams and a fireplace.


Award-winning. The scones are made with a secret recipe, passed down through the generations

Julia’s mother made locally-acclaimed mince pies right up until she was almost 100 years old, using a secret recipe passed down through the generations.

With their pick your own fruit and fresh veg, fruit from the shop and their own beef, pork, chickens and eggs, not to mention homemade jams and pickles, Royal Oak Farm has been described by patrons as ‘a jewel in the crown of rural East Devon’.

Julia and David have spent the last 33 years working seven days a week and baking up to 200 scones a day.

Retiring after years of accolades

Their hard work and dedication has seen them win Certificate of Excellence Awards from TripAdvisor, Devon’s Best Scone competition in 2016 and a five-star food hygiene rating.

As well as working their 15-acre farm and running the tearoom, they also welcome guests to holiday accommodation on the site.

The local community is sad to see the couple retiring. As well as providing a rural retreat, Julia and David have been perfect hosts.

They have welcomed, among many others, members of Honiton Memory Cafe.

Heather Penwarden, the memory cafe’s chairman, said : “So many people will be sad to see them go but we, of course, wish them all the very best in their well-earned retirement.”


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