Traditional Afternoon Tea and the seventh Duchess of Bedford by Karmens Tea Room

In celebration of Afternoon Tea we celebrate the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell, who we have to  thank for the invention of afternoon tea, in c.1840

The traditional Afternoon Tea commenced two centuries  ago when, Queen Victoria's Lady in Waiting, the Duchess  of Bedford, became despondent at the void between lunch and  dinner.  

Due to the rise of the industrialisation, the working classes were having their evening meal later and later.  This is turn led to wealthier  classes, having dinner closer to 9pm – with lunch many hours earlier at midday.

The Duchess of Bedford, was having none of it. Describing a 'sinking feeling'  at about 5pm, she became despondent at the void between lunch and  dinner. 

She requested that some tea, bread and butter and cake was  brought to her room in the late afternoon – and with that one request of  a lady's sinking stomach, an afternoon ritual was born. 

This led to the Duchess of Bedford invited her friends over for tea and ‘a light refreshment’ in her rooms at Woburn Abbey.  Needing very  little prompting to find an occasion to squeeze in another cup of tea  and a piece of cake, the upper classes ate it up and the fashionable  custom soon spread across Britain.

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