Afternoon Tea is one of the most quintessentially English customs, dating back to the 1840s. It was introduced by the Duchess of Bedford who created a meal time that became the height of sophistication in Victorian England because she was hungry around 4pm with the long wait until her evening meal which was served fashionably late at 8pm.
The Duchess asked for a pot of tea along with the recently introduced sandwich (the Earl of Sandwich invented the idea of putting a filling between bread) and cakes. She would invite her high society friends and the extra treat was to have the servants leave the tea so that they could serve themselves.
The ‘taking of tea’ gradually spread from the home out into society and tea parties gained in popularity with tea rooms and tea gardens opening up. This experience of afternoon tea with delicious delicacies and loose-leaf Indian or Ceylon tea, in china cups, continues today.
Where better to enjoy a traditional Afternoon tea than in an English garden with beds of roses and sweeping countryside views that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. The only slight eccentricity to a Bewl Rookery Afternoon Tea is the alpacas roaming the paddock. They would not have been thought of as entertainment at the Duchess of Bedford’s high society afternoon tea parties!
However, while there weren’t any alpacas in the UK back in the 1840s alpaca fibre was much sought after and coats and gowns made from the fleece were very fashionable. It was an English entrepreneur, Sir Titus Salt, in the 1830s who discovered that alpaca wool could be transformed into the finest cloth and at his family mill in Bradford he became famous as the creator of garments made from this lustrous material.
Even Queen Victoria wore alpaca dresses, so maybe the Duchess of Bedford and her high society friends would also be wearing alpaca dresses as they sipped afternoon tea and nibbled on a delicate sandwich!
While our Bewl Rookery guests enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with delicate sandwiches and delicious homemade treats our alpacas like to join in by meeting everyone before tea and being fed carrots from our guests.
You can find out more about our afternoon tea and alpaca experience here.