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’
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.