During 18th century England, dinner was served at a gradually later and later time until by the early 1800s, the normal time was between 7:00 and 8:30 pm and an extra meal called luncheon had been created to fill the midday gap. But since this new meal was very light, the long afternoon with no refreshment at all left people feeling rather hungry. So eventually Anna began asking her maid to bring all the tea making equipment to her private room (the Blue Drawing Room at Woburn Abbey) at 4 o'clock so that the Duchess could enjoy a cup of tea with a slice or two of bread and butter. She found this Afternoon Tea such a perfect refreshment that she soon started inviting her friends to join her in her room for this new social event. The menu consisted of small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea.
The Duchess continued this summer practice when she returned to London, sending invitations to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walking the fields." (At that time, large open meadows were still to be found in Mayfair.) Other social hostesses soon began to invite friends to Afternoon Tea. Eventually, the growing middle class imitated the rich and found that tea was a very economical way of entertaining several friends without having to spend too much money, and Afternoon Tea quickly became the norm.
Did you know:
- Anna was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria and served for a number of years as Lady of the Bedchamber.
- Anna's brother, Viscount Petersham, was a great connoisseur of tea. His sitting room contained "canisters of tea in great variety." It was said to look like a shop.
- March 2009 Tea in London travelers will be spending an entire day at Anna's ancestral home, Woburn Abbey, touring the Blue Drawing Room where Anna took tea, and enjoying a very special Anna Duchess of Bedford Afternoon Tea as well. It's not to late to reserve your spot on this tour. Visit Tea in London for more details.
- Anna shares her September 3 birthday with Tall and Handsome who turns 49 years old today! Happy Birthday, Mr. Smith!!!!!!!! xxx