Thursday, May 7, 2020

‘High Tea,' an Actress and a Duchess

Fanny Kemble in “Records of a Girlhood” attributes the introduction of the afternoon meal into this country, to the then Duchess of Bedford. Fanny Kemble paid a visit to Belvoir Castle in March, 1842, and she relates how a mysterious invitation was received to the Duchess’ private rooms, where she found a small group of friends partaking of tea in a private and rather shame-faced way... —Fanny Kemble was not only a notable British actress in the early and mid-19th century, but she was a well-known and popular writer. —Photo, public domain


“High tea” is said to be of American origin. The earliest mention of it, according to Dr. Murray, goes no further back than 1850. In fact, tea as an afternoon meal, is not much older. It is thought to have originated in 1837 in the house of Mme. de Circourt, a Russian lady, whose salon in Paris was at that time much frequented by the most intellectual society of day. The fashionable dinner hours were then getting late, and she introduced a 4 o'clock light meal, at which tea was served.

Fanny Kemble in “Records of a Girlhood” attributes the introduction of the afternoon meal into this country, to the then Duchess of Bedford. Fanny Kemble paid a visit to Belvoir Castle in March, 1842, and she relates how a mysterious invitation was received to the Duchess’ private rooms, where she found a small group of friends partaking of tea in a private and rather shame-faced way, and dates the 5 o’clock meal from this time. But it was several years later that the practice became general.—London Chronicle, 1904




Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia©️ Etiquette Encyclopedia

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