People have long since associated England with tea drinking and afternoon tea, a practice started by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, in the early 19th century to help her reach dinner time.
These days you can still experience “Afternoon Tea” at many hotels nationwide, usually between the hours of 3pm -5pm where you have your tea and are presented a selection of small sandwiches, scones and cakes, all served on tiered trays.
With my aunt visiting us from Italy, I thought it a great excuse to treat my mum and aunt to an afternoon tea at our nearby Cliveden House Hotel, in Berkshire.
The beautiful stately house is set in in over 350 acres of gardens and dates back to the 1600’s. Nowadays, the house is used as a hotel and event venue with the gardens being part of the National Trust, making it an ideal place for afternoon tea.
We booked ourselves in for 4.45pm on a Friday and were shown to our table in the main room. As we settled down and each ordered our preferred tea from an extensive list, we were greeted by the very friendly marketing manager who gave us a wonderful tour of the various rooms of the house and explained the extensive history of the house.
As we returned to our table our trays of exquisite looking food started to arrive. Having ordered 2 vegetarians and 1 vegan option I was impressed to see that this did not mean a lack of selection on the cakes offered!
We were also graciously treated to a flute of champagne each and happily spent the next hour feeling thoroughly spoilt. The sandwiches, scones and cakes were lovely and we struggled to finish them, despite not having had lunch! Nevertheless, we left feeling very satisfied with the food and refreshed from an afternoon spent being waited on and generally very well looked after.
The experience is definitely one to class as a treat, but all the same I think if you are visiting the UK and really want to experience something different from the usual tourist attractions then you should consider it.
Afternoon teas can be found at many London hotels, however why not make a day of it and choose one a little further afield where you can also spend a few hours strolling through their gardens?