There is always time for tea

January 5, 2017

The tradition of afternoon tea began in the 1830s when the Duchess of Bedford (Anna Russell), a close friend of Queen Victoria, found herself feeling hungry in the long gap between lunch and dinner.  As it became easier to light houses into the evening it was more fashionable to have dinner later, especially for the wealthy.  The Duchess would ask for a small bite to eat with a pot of tea around 4pm in her boudoir. Being a prominent figure within London Society, she then began to invite friends to join her and the event became more of an occasion and moved to the drawing room.

Tea Rooms started popping up in the late 19th century as respectable places for ladies to meet with friends and share gossip without the need for a chaperone.  Tea itself was also a fine delicacy and those privileged enough to enjoy it wanted everyone to know that they could. Some families even had portraits painted showing them drinking tea from fine china as a statement of their extreme wealth!    

Afternoon tea soon became a fashionable social event and over time became the more extravagant ritual it is today rather than the light snack from which it originated. Scones, with clotted cream and jam, were introduced in the 20th century adding to the delicate finger sandwiches, sweet pastries and cakes making it an even more indulgent occasion.

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Afternoon tea at Great Fosters is very much a lavish affair! Enjoy this most British of traditions served in the Anne Boleyn Room, Cocktail Bar, Tudor Room and Main Hall. In the summer months tea may also be served on the terrace or lawns overlooking the formal gardens and Saxon moat. Sandwiches are served first followed by a tiered cake stand brimming with scones, cakes, sweet pastries and a Victoria Sponge. Tea is chosen from our Tea Menu which offers a range of styles and blends of fine teas and herbal infusions carefully sourced by Jing, some of which are rarely seen outside their country of origin. We are happy to cater for special diets - just mention it when making your reservation and book at least 48 hours in advance.

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And finally, if it’s all too much, we will happily box up your left over cakes for you to enjoy at home!

Full details of our afternoon tea menus are available here