If there’s somewhere you must visit in Bath, it’s Sally Lunn’s. The oldest building in Bath dating back to 1482, Sally Lunn’s serves its famous Sally Lunn buns, a large brioche-like bread.
According to legend, the namesake of this eatery was a French Huguenot refugee named Solange Luyon who came to Bath in 1680. She lived and worked in the building on what was formerly known as Lilliput Alley. Her name became anglicised to Sally Lunn. Sally baked her famous brioche-like buns that were similar to French festival breads from her homeland. These became so popular during the Georgian era that even Jane Austen had some! A few centuries later in 1937 the building was acquired by Marie Byng-Johnson who turned it into the eatery we see today. During the restoration of the building, she discovered Sally Lunn’s recipes in a secret cupboard. Whilst the recipe for the bun remains a secret to the public, I will believe the legend.
If you’re hoping to try Sally Lunn’s buns, make sure you visit between 10am-6pm when the All Day Menu is served. When you enter Sally Lunn’s, you’ll have to wait in the narrow hall until someone comes to give you a table. During my first visit, I had a table on the ground floor near the front. The room somehow felt cosier during winter with the warm coloured walls.
My second visit was during the Jane Austen Festival. As I was wearing a Regency dress, I was offered a table on the top floor (the ground floor happened to be full).
Feeling very hungry during my second visit, I ordered the Sally Lunn 2 Course High Tea (£12.38). Please note, Canadian readers, that this is not the traditional afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, and sweets. The two-course high tea includes a Sally Lunn Bunn with Scottish Smoked Salmon, followed by a Sally Lunn Bunn with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The latter is the Sally Lunn Cream Tea (£7.48) for those of you who would like something lighter. These buns are lightly toasted and served warm so be sure to take a bite before it cools. I chose the Sally Lunn Blend Tea, a melange of Indian, Ceylon, and African teas.
If you enjoyed the Bunns – which you will – be sure to take some home from the shop before the Kitchen Museum closes around 6pm. When I first visited, I saw a group of young adults who bought six boxes at a time! The Kitchen Museum at the back of the house is open daily from 10am-6pm. This is where you can see some of the original foundations of the building, including the original kitchen.
It was particularly fascinating to see how the street level had been raised over the centuries and how the building had evolved from its beginnings as being part of the Bath Abbey to a 17th-Century house.
I look forward to my next visit to Sally Lunn’s to devour more of those scrumptious Bunns!
Address: 4 North Parade Passage, Bath, BA1 1NX
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-22:00 // Sun 10-21:30