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The History of Afternoon Tea


There’s nothing more quintessentially British than afternoon tea, but how did it start? The custom of drinking tea dated back to ancient China almost 5000 years ago and was brought to England during the 1660s by King Charlies II and his wife. During the early 19th century the consumption of tea started to increase, but it was Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford that’s credited with starting the famous British tradition.


At the time, the evening meal had started to shift later and later as wealthier houses could keep their homes lit late into the evening. Finding the long period between lunch and dinner leaving her peckish, the Duchess requested a light refreshment in her room during the afternoon at Woburn Abbey. Becoming somewhat of a habit, the Duchess started inviting her friends to join her.


She continued the practice on her return to London and afternoon tea quickly became a fashionable idea in high society. The afternoon tea moved into the hostesses drawing room, and society women started to change into gowns, hats and gloves.


Now afternoon tea is a British tradition which you can indulge in at hotels around the country or tearooms in Devon and Cornwall. But why don’t you follow in the Duchess’ footsteps and host an afternoon tea in your own home with Afternoon Tea by Tony. Take a look at our packages and relax while we do the work for you.

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