late afternoon. The answer to the problem of her rumbling tummy? A selection of light nibbles and a pot of tea around three or 4pm. Friends would join her for this small afternoon meal in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. Over time, the menu evolved to include fancy cakes, bread and butter sandwiches and plates of assorted sweets.

When Anna returned to London, she invited her well-to-do friends to Woburn Abbey for a sophisticated afternoon of “tea and a walking the fields”. So, the ritual that begun as a private occupation spread quickly across all of high society. It became normal for the upper classes to have a little afternoon tea before their daily promenade in Hyde Park. You may enjoy the ritual of afternoon tea from time to time – it’s your chance to relax, spend time with friends and leave the madness and mayhem of everyday life behind for one sweet hour… Bliss!

Here at Pretty Vintage, we’d love to know your tea habits. Are your afternoon tea sessions reserved for special occasions? Or you get your fancy china out on a daily basis? And will it be a cucumber sandwich or strawberries and cream with your Earl Grey?


Afternoon tea is a wonderful ritual. Out come the delicate china teacups, the pretty glass sugar bowl, the vintage teapot passed down from one generation to the next. Then – boiling water, the rising steam, the scent of Bergamot (accompanied by a little cool milk or slice of lemon), stirred with an antique silver teaspoon.
And the recipe for perfect afternoon tea wouldn’t be complete without Battenburg, tiers of hot fresh scones, clotted cream, jam, and dainty triangles of cucumber sandwich. Delicious! But have you ever wondered where the trend for afternoon tea came from? Who was the first person to drink tea in the afternoon? How did it become such an important part of British culture?

The first person to drink tea in the afternoon was the Duchess of Bedford, Lady Anna Maria Russell. She introduced the habit of a light snack and tea drinking in the afternoon to British high society. It was at the beginning of the 19th century. People generally ate only two meals a day – breakfast of ale, bread and beef – and a much later evening meal. Around that time, Anna had complained of a “sinking feeling” during the