Afternoon tea, is, perhaps surprisingly, a relatively new tradition. Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third century BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared.
Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. She asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter (some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread) and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit and she began inviting friends to join her.
This break for tea became a fashionable social event. During the 1880's upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o'clock.
Post by Jenny at http://www.steyningcottages.co.uk Both Steyning tea rooms are within a 5 minute walk from Rosebud Cottage in Steyning & within easy reach of Brighton.