Sally Lunn’s Eating House and Museum is a tea room and museum inside Bath’s oldest house, which is widely credited as the birthplace of the Sally Lunn bun.
The house is a Grade II* listed building that was built in 1482, although the oldest parts of the building date from the time that Bath Abbey was reconstructed after the great fire of 1137. Legend has it that Huguenot refugee Solange Luyon (who anglicised her name to Sally Lunn) bought the recipe to Bath in 1680 when she moved into the house. However, there is little independent evidence to back up this story and Sally Lunn’s Eating House only opened in the 1930s to capitalise on the Sally Lunn story.
A Sally Lunn bun is a large bun or teacake that is similar to a brioche and was first recorded in 1780 in Bath. The buns have been mentioned in Charles Dickens 1844 novel The Chimes and Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1876 comic opera The Sorcerer. It is considered to be the original Bath bun.
What to see at Sally Lunn’s Eating House and Museum
Sally Lunn’s Eating House is set in three rooms (one on the ground floor and two upstairs) and the museum is located in the basement.
The Sally Lunn’s Kitchen Museum occupies a small part of the building and features artefacts from the house as well as exhibits about the house, Sally Lunn and the Sally Lunn bun.
The museum also features the original faggot oven that dates from around 1100. Some people believe that King John ate bread baked in this oven when he visited Bath in 1207 and the oven is believed to have still been used in Sally Lunn’s day. Faggot refers to the bundles of sticks that would have been burnt in the oven, as opposed to the type of meatball.
Visiting Sally Lunn’s Eating House and Museum
For most visitors, the main attraction at Sally Lunn’s is the tea room and the museum is more of an afterthought.
It is free to visit the museum, although it is expected that you also order something to eat or drink in the tea rooms. The museum is open 11am–4pm daily, although the tea rooms are open longer hours.
Sally Lunn’s can get busy and there is often a queue between noon and 3pm. It is generally quieter during the first couple of hours and at dinner time, although you’ll be too late for the museum if you come here for dinner.
Although wheelchair access is available to the ground floor of the tea rooms, the museum is only accessible via dozen stone steps. The first-floor toilets are not wheelchair accessible.
It is only a small museum and you can visit in as little as five minutes, although most people take a little longer. However, you should allow at least half an hour so you can enjoy a cup of tea and a bun.