History of Afternoon Tea

History of Afternoon Tea

In the early 1900’s, Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford was rumored to have complained about having “that sinking feeling”. Back then, the people only had about two meals a day: breakfast and dinner. Dinner was at about 8 o’clock in the evening. Anna’s solution was to have a pot of tea, and a small snack in the afternoon. This was taken privately in her boudoir. After a while, Anna invited friends to her room to have tea with her. This idea was so popular, that the Duchess continued to do it when she arrived in London. Other hostesses picked this up, and it was respectable enough to be moved to the drawing room. All of the fashionable society was drinking tea and tasting scones.

History of Harrods

In 1824, Charles Henry Harrod opened a small drapery business in Southwark, London. In 1825, just a year after the opening, Charles’ shop was hit by a financial crash. In the 1830’s the tea trading that was happening in Britain was starting as the East India Company had lost its handle on it. Charles and his wife Elizabeth had sought to find an opportunity for their business to succeed and grow. The two decided to move across Thames to Shadwell located in East London where buildings allowed the unloading of goods. In 1831-1832, Henry and Elizabeth decided to give up on their drapery business, and decided to create a tea and grocer’s shop on Cable street.

In 1836, as Charles attempted to establish a successful business, he was caught red-handed receiving stolen items. He was threatened to have to leave England and live as a prisoner in Australia for seven years! Fortunately, his wife, and their friends made several contradictions to why he should not be moved from England and was proved innocent. Charles understood what he did wrong by receiving stolen goods, and relocated to Eastcheap for a more successful and legal business. After then moving to Brompton road, his business became even more successful, and took over another local grocer’s. When Charles died, his son, Charles Digby Harrod took over the shop. Charles Digby purchased neighboring shops as they went out of business and became available. Charles Digby’s business wasn’t based on luxury goods, but on good quality items that are sold for low prices.

In 1883, as the store was becoming more and more successful because of Charles Digby, a fire struck. This fire burned the entire store to ashes. The press claimed that nothing remained. For many people, this might’ve been a hurdle in their daily life. Though Charles Digby, in a calm manner, decided that this was an amazing opportunity to start fresh. The store could be expanded and modernized. So, as the store was rebuilt, Charles Digby delivered every Christmas order with the hard work of his staff. The store, naturally, became even more successful and popular like it is today.