History of Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea, the most quintessential of English

customs is a relatively new tradition. it was not until

the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’

first appeared.

The first celebration of afternoon tea was introduced

in England in the late 1830's by Anna, the seventh

Duchess of Bedford. It had become fashionable that

the evening meal in her household was served late at

eight o’clock, leaving a long period of time between

lunch and dinner.

 

The Duchess therefore asked that, in the late

afternoon, a tray of tea, bread sandwich and cakes was brought to her rooms at Woburn Abbey.

She soon turned this into a social occasion, inviting friends to join her for afternoon tea followed by a stroll

in the gardens.

On her return to London she continued this practice, other Social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea

which became respectable enough to move into the drawing room.  This was the start of afternoon tea

becoming a fashionable social event and  thus the ceremony of afternoon tea was created. A social event

where Ladies could discuss the latest happenings

(and scandals) enjoying the finest cakes and

sandwiches whilst sipping tea from fine china cups.

During the later period of the 19th century,

tea rooms became all the rage, one of the few

respectable places where Ladies of a certain class

dressed in all their finery could meet. The

introduction of scones served with clotted cream

and jam served to complete what we now consider

today to be the perfect afternoon tea.