Whortleberry House was originally built as a fruit & veg shop with living accommodation around the middle of the 19th century. From 1923 to 1999 it was owned by the Westcott family.
Mr Westcott used to pay between 4d & 6d a quart for whortleberries collected from the local pickers. They were packed into punnets in the sheds behind the tearoom and sent to either London or the Midlands where they were used in the food industry, and as a dye for military uniforms, notably for the RAF.
It was in 1999 that the shop was converted to the tearoom as it is today. Your hosts Anne and Steve acquired the business in January 2014 and have made Porlock their home.
This is the local Somerset name for the sweet blackish coloured fruit of a low growing heathland bush, Vaccinium myrtillus, also known elswhere as bilberry, hurtleberry, wurt, blaeberry, huckleberry, winberry to name a few. The plant is very common on Exmoor and the Quantock hills and have been harvested by locals for centuries and were an important foodsource.
The modern blueberry found in supermarkets comes from hybrid cultivars developed about 100 years ago by agricultural specialists, most prominently by Elizabeth Coleman White, to meet the then growing consumer demand. The fruits are bigger, the bushes grow taller, and are easier to harvest. They are significantly different to their wild counterparts however.
Whortleberry Tearoom, Whortleberry House,
High Street, Porlock, Somerset. TA24 8PY