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Afternoon tea is recognized as a thoroughly British tradition in every corner of the world. Queen Victoria, England’s longest reigning monarch (although she may have to give up the distinction pretty soon to her great-great-grand-daughter, Queen Elizabeth ll), made afternoon tea very popular, very ‘it’. But she did not invent the tradition.

That honour goes to Anna, Duchess of Bedford, a Lady-in-waiting to the Queen  and prone to fainting spells in the afternoons – a career-limiting activity. So the doctor was brought in; he diagnosed Anna’s fainting spells as hunger from the long stretch between lunch and supper  and prescribed a cup of hot tea and buttered bread whenever a fainting spell was coming on. Anna found this so agreeable, she invited other Ladies-in-waiting to join her. Pretty soon Queen Victoria cottoned on to a good idea and she asked for afternoon tea too. The rest as they say, is history!       Sample afternoon teas

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