The sun is shining and British Summertime is finally upon us, hooray! Which means afternoon tea outside on the nicely pruned lawn followed by a game of croquet.
We have the seventh Duchess of Bedford to thank for this wonderful and quintessentially British tradition. During the early 19th century, the Duchess is said to have complained of “that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At that time, only two meals of breakfast and dinner were served during the day, leaving a rather long gap in between. To combat this “sinking feeling”, a pot of tea and a light snack were taken privately into her boudoir at around 4pm. She then later invited her friends to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walking the fields."
The idea quickly caught on to other social hostesses and the practice soon became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long, all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling cakes and sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon. So let us do as the Duchess did and indulge in our mouthwatering selection of cup cakes, muffins, flapjacks and cake slices with a nice pot of tea.