Bedford Tourism Office

About Bedford

Home of Afternoon Tea

Bedford is proud to call itself "Home of Afternoon Tea"! Download our guide to some of the best and most inspiring places to enjoy tea with a twist!

Lets Have Tea Vintage China
Or if you'd like to enjoy tea like a duchess at home or for a special occasion Let's Have Tea specialise in providing the finest English china and traditional tea ware for your celebration days. Email for more details

There is perhaps nothing considered more quintessentially English that drinking tea; indeed tea drinking has influenced much of what is regarded throughout the world as British culture and features strongly in nursery rhymes, fairytales and folklore.

Yet as a nation we were relative late arrivals to the proverbial tea party; the drink becoming popular in mid-1700s when the East India Company began trading in tea. Clipper ships like the Cutty Sark, which could travel at an incredible 18 knots, as fast as a modern cruise ship, were designed to halve the transport time from Asia. Heavy taxation inevitably led to tea smuggling but did nothing to dent its popularity, indeed its importance led to the growth in the other industries such as pottery manufacturing where names like Wedgwood and Royal Doulton became synonymous with fine tea ware. It was a prized commodity and often it was only the lady of the house that held the key to the tea store.

Tea drinking even led to changes in social etiquette with the opening of tea gardens and tea shops, since these were places where an unchaperoned woman could meet her friends and socialise without harming her reputation. But the single most lasting of these traditions is without question the invention of afternoon tea and here Bedfordshire can stake its claim to being the home of afternoon tea Read More

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