FANS of the high life heading to Blenheim Palace for a taste of luxury could be forgiven for thinking they had donned a real pair of rose-tinted spectacles.

Throughout the summer, and for the rest of this month, the Woodstock stately home is inviting visitors to tuck into a very special afternoon tea – and in contrast to the honey-coloured stone of the stately home, it is a distinct shade of pink.

The Pink T afternoon tea being served in Searcy's grand Orangery restaurant is a tribute to 1960s pop culture and commemorates 50 years of Laurent-Perrier’s iconic Cuvée Rosé. Surely a cause for celebration in anyone’s book (well, any excuse, eh?).

We rolled up the gates on a beautifully warm Saturday afternoon and spent a while soaking up the atmosphere of the Duke of Marlborough’s enviable pad.

The sunlight glinted off golden cannonballs and illuminated the warm stone of the perfectly-proportioned Great Court. It was a symphony in architecture, admittedly lacking in restraint but oozing grandeur – a testament to the military achievements of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Inside the glass-ceilinged orangery, though, things were less British imperial power and more Austin Powers.

It took two smiling waiters to bring the laden multi-storey trays of sweet and savoury lovelies to our table – overlooking the clipped hedges of the Duke’s formal gardens.

And, there was a definite shade of candy floss to the brightly-tinted treats.

We started with cups of tea – choosing from a long list of blends by Oxford’s very own Jeeves & Jericho Teasmith – and settling on Darjeeling and jasmine.

Then came the fizz – long flutes of perfectly chilled Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, sublimely refreshing on a late summer afternoon as well as suitably colour coordinated.

Then it was time to tackle the sandwiches – impossibly delicate fingers of trimmed spongy bread with ham and good English mustard, creamy egg and cress, and subtle but utterly delicious cucumber and cream cheese – a tea time icon.

The word ‘dainty’ could have been invented for them.

Picking up on the retro theme was a twist on that 60s staple, the prawn cocktail – though here it was beautifully reimagined as a millefeuille. It looked almost too good to eat, but was polished off in double quick time regardless.

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Best of all were smoked salmon open sandwiches on firm rye bread – the tender pink (of course!) slices of fish practically melting in the mouth.

The sandwiches washed down with gulps of fizz, we attacked the scones – generously proportioned but light delights made of buttermilk, just crying out to be sliced and layed with chunky strawberry jam and thick clotted cream.

While on any normal day we would have left it there, we took another swig of bubbly and moved on to the main event – the cakes.

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In another nod to the decade of flares and flower power, there was another twist on a British standard – pineapple upside down cake. But this was not like the hearty sponges baked by your mum and doused in evaporated milk; they were delicate, light and spiced – while still satisfyingly sweet and fruity.

Even more delicate were the little refreshing cups of jelly made of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé. Jelly never tasted so fine. My only criticism being there could have been more. An unlimited amount, perhaps!

Bright strawberry macaroons and rosy Battenberg cake completed the ensemble – both were too sweet even for me, but went down well with the others.

Luxury doesn’t come cheap, of course, and the special tea costs £42 per person – though that does include that all-important Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé (a classic Marlborough Champagne Tea costs £35 and traditional tea without fizz is a relative snip at £26).

It is, however, generous and surprisingly filling and the quality and service impeccable. For a treat in sublime surroundings, it is unbeatable value.

It certainly left us in the pink.

  • Enjoy a Pink T afternoon tea at Searcy's The Orangery, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until September 30.
  • Book at