Drinking tea itself first became popular because it’s something King Charles II enjoyed doing – along with his wife Catherine of Braganza – in the 1660s. One of the gifts to Charles from Catherine’s family when they first married was a chest of tea, which is likely to have kicked off the tradition. One of the most popular kings of England, he was also known as the ‘Merry Monarch’, although it’s unclear how much the caffeine from the tea had to do with this…
In 1840, The Duchess of Bedford began the afternoon tea tradition after becoming too hungry in the middle of the afternoon to wait for dinner. The Duchess started drinking tea and eating sandwiches and cake at around 4 o’ clock. Soon she was inviting friends to join her and it quickly became a social ritual for upper-class ladies.
The female-only enjoyment of afternoon tea didn’t last for long, however. During the warmer months of the year, the ladies wanted to enjoy the weather and take their afternoon tea outside. Moving the afternoon tea tradition beyond closed doors was all the encouragement the lords and men of the households needed. They soon joined in and it subsequently became an occasion for anyone.
Nowadays, life can get so busy and it’s a real treat to slow down and enjoy some time out, if only for a few hours. Spending quality time as a couple can only be made better by indulging in a towering cake stand of homemade cakes and scones, delectable finger sandwiches and a sparkling glass of Rosé Champagne!
Due to Government restrictions, The Runnymede will be closed from Thursday 5 November – Wednesday 2 December.