My husband and I love having an afternoon tea treat when we have time together which is not often and I was wondering where this tradition came from. When we are away on holiday if we can’t find something that will pass for afternoon tea we adopt the local foods even if it’s a cocktail or a posh ice cream for that afternoon treat.
The passion for the English afternoon tea is deemed to have been started by the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the late 1930’s. At this time it was the norm to have Breakfast and then Dinner at 8pm as meals in the day – how did they manage without lunch? The Duchess often complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. She solved this feeling herself by having a pot of tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.
She started to invite her friends to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey in the summer, it was so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London. Other social hostesses copied this idea and they started serving afternoon tea the drawing room! Soon all of fashionable society were drinking tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.
Sometimes now you will see hotels serving a ‘high tea’. Traditionally, the upper classes would serve a ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea around four o’clock, before they joined in on the fashionable promenade in Hyde Park. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial ‘high’ tea later in the day, at five or six o’clock, in place of a late dinner. The names were given to these meals from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, high tea being served at the dinner table.
There are no set rules on what is served in Afternoon tea but popular items are a selection of freshly prepared finger sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and Jam, a selection of homemade cakes and pastries and not forgetting a choice from a range of teas.
Now cream tea tradition developed in the West Country following the rise in tourism in the 1850s, caused by the opening of the railway. Visitors headed south for relaxation and were happy to indulge themselves with afternoon cream teas of scones with strawberry Jam and it had to be clotted cream!
From this came the Cornwall v Devon battle of Cream then jam or jam then cream? Which do you prefer? Personally I don’t mind as long as there is cream and jam to pop on my scone!
Now here in the studio you could paint yourself an afternoon tea set of Teapot, milk jug, cup and saucers or mugs, a jam pot and a sugar bowl along with matching side plates. I love this easy to paint Strawberry design which you are welcome to come and learn on Saturday 12th May 2018 and guess what we are serving you a cream tea whilst you paint for that perfect afternoon outing! If this has passed by time you read this but you’d like to do it just let us know and we can arrange a session for you.
Thanks for reading now I think I may go and find a scone or too!
Regards Jane, Katy & Kelvin the kilns