Afternoon tea has become an increasingly popular way to celebrate a special occasion or get together with friends – whether at home using Granny’s best china or in our very own tea room.
But how did this practice begin?
Who decided that a nice cup of tea and a selection of sandwiches and fancies were just the thing to pass the time in the mid to late afternoon?
Well, we apparently have nobility to thank for afternoon tea as it was Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford who created the idea back in the 1840s. In those days it was customary for the upper classes to have only two meals a day: breakfast and a dinner at 8pm. But the Duchess admitted to getting ‘that sinking feeling’ in the afternoon as hunger pangs began to strike. She therefore took to drinking a pot of tea and a small snack in her boudoir at Woburn Abbey to get her through till dinner time.
Soon friends were joining her and eventually the practice became so accepted that it was relocated to the drawing room and the rest of fashionable society began to indulge.
The perfect snack!
The modern sandwich was a popular choice of snack. This is rumoured to having been invented by John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who was a notorious gambler and asked his servants to bring him meat between slices of bread so he wouldn’t have to leave the gambling table for his supper.
So if you begin to experience ‘that sinking feeling’ at any time of day maybe, like Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, you should put your feet up and enjoy a sandwich alongside a delicious pot of our very own Earl Grey Tea.