For those that enjoy the treat of an afternoon tea, silver cake stands piled high with pastries, freshly-baked cakes and dainty finger sandwiches, there is one woman to thank, says Angharad Moran
Duchess Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke of Bedford is credited with popularising afternoon tea in the late 19th century. The Duchess would complain of ‘having a sinking feeling’ during the late afternoons and, wanting to find a way to fill those empty, stomach-rumbling hours between breakfast and dinner, she would take tea with a small snack.
She soon started to invite her friends to join her and the pastime immediately caught on. Well, who wouldn’t want an excuse to squeeze an extra slice of cake into their daily routine? Here, we’ve put together a list of just a few of the fabulous venues across the country where you can do just that.
The Goring Hotel. ©Richard Booth
This grand hotel’s afternoon tea selection has been voted the best in London by the Tea Guild in the past. Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy red velvet cake, lemon curd with meringue and strawberry macaroons while sipping tea in the knowledge that only the finest leaves from across the globe make it to the table here.
Bohemian Afternoon Tea, The Club Hotel.
Try something new
The Club Hotel launched its Bohemian Afternoon Tea Collection Inspired by its idyllic island setting. As well as traditional scones served with strawberry jam and Jersey black butter (an apple conserve unique to the island) along with Jersey clotted cream, diners will also be able to enjoy a few avant-garde treats created by new pastry chef Ellen de Jager, including a strawberry and mint iced lolly and a seashell-shaped pina colada délice.
Bettys afternoon tea
It’s almost 100 years since the first Bettys opened its doors to customers. As well as offering afternoon tea in the six tearooms now dotted across Yorkshire, you can also opt to book ahead for an extra special experience amid the Regency elegance of the Imperial Room in Harrogate, or the Art Deco décor of the Belmont Room in York every Friday-Sunday. Here, a live pianist will add to the atmosphere as you choose from 18 speciality teas and the tempting treats Bettys has become famous for.
The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny
A slice of heaven
The hotel’s knowledgeable staff will soon be guiding you through their classic library of teas to help you discover new favourites. Ask for the tea of the season (green tea scented with jasmine flowers) for a refreshing pick-me-up this spring. Meanwhile, a choice of cakes, pastries, scones and sandwiches will keep you satisfyingly full until dinner time.
Palm Court, Balmoral Hotel. Copyright Susie Lowe 2013/The Balmoral Hotel
Vintage meets exotic
Enjoy relaxing to a live harpist in the hotel’s Palm Court where you can sip vintage champagne under exotic palm trees. Sample a seasonal amuse bouche from chef Jeff Bland before tucking into savouries and sandwiches, followed by scones, warm from the oven. If you’ve still got room after all of that there’s also a range of pastries and sweet treats from the trolley to be enjoyed.
Where it all began
Take afternoon tea at the former home of Duchess Anna Maria. Enjoy freshly-baked scones piled high with clotted cream and strawberry jam, a delightful selection of mini cakes and assorted sandwiches. Dine as the Duchess once did amid the beautiful backdrop of Woburn Abbey, and raise a glass (or teacup) in her honour.