Castle Howard, Historic House North Yorkshire
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Afternoon Tea Week
By Eleanor Brooke-Peat  //  Mon 14th August 2017
Afternoon Tea, Curatorial, History
A temporary display has been put together in the Turquoise Drawing Room to mark Afternoon Tea Week, from 14 to 21 August, a celebration of the quintessential British tradition.
The History of Afternoon Tea

Drinking tea became fashionable in Britain in the 1670s, but it was not until the mid-19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared. This was a result of the fact that in the late 18th and early 19th century, dinner, the main meal of the day, moved steadily from the afternoon into the evening (itself partly a consequence of improvements in lighting, allowing entertaining to take place for longer after dark). The widening gap between luncheon and dinner meant that ladies began to take a small meal of tea and cakes at around 4pm.

Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857) is widely credited for being the first person to take afternoon tea; she started inviting friends to join her, and it was quickly popularised amongst the upper classes. At first this informal meal was taken surreptitiously in a lady’s boudoir or bedroom, but it soon moved into the more public and traditionally feminine domain of the drawing room.

By 1850 tea in the drawing room at around four or five o’clock had become customary in all fashionable houses, and was a key daily social event for upper-class and society women. By the end of the 19th century a more elaborate five o’clock tea, attended by both sexes and served in the drawing room, or on the lawn when the weather was fine, had become one of the major institutions of country-house life.

Today Castle Howard serves Afternoon Tea in the elegant Grecian Hall with a menu specially created by our new pastry chef. The tea won a commendation at the 2017 national Afternoon Tea Awards and is available to enjoy on selected dates, tickets must be pre-booked in advance.  Find out more about our deliciously indulgent tea here.

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