From the manicured gardens of Government House to the lively pubs dotted around the city, Victoria stays true to its strong British roots. A tradition that is alive and well in Victoria—and also quintessentially British—is the ceremony of afternoon tea. The Pendray Inn & Tea House is one of several tearooms across the city that serves up an authentic afternoon tea experience, just like our well-mannered friends across the pond. But have you ever wondered how this fun and festive custom came to be?
Afternoon tea began as a solution to an all-familiar feeling: hunger between meals. In 1840, Anna the Duchess of Bedford found herself experiencing a “sinking feeling” between the two house meals (dinner was served fashionably late around 8 o’clock). The hungry duchess requested that a small tray of tea, sandwiches, and cake be brought to her room at 4 o’clock every day. Anna enjoyed the mid-afternoon snack so much that she began inviting her friends over to partake and socialize, thus creating a new gathering place for the upper-class. The practice spread across England and blossomed into an elaborate ceremony with its own etiquette, rules and accompaniments. Afternoon tea is still enjoyed around the world as a way to experience old-world sophistication.
A traditional afternoon tea comes with a laundry list of ground rules, but nowadays you really need to follow a few basic ones.
Our very own Pendray Tea House in beautiful Victoria, BC, promises an authentic, turn-of-the-century afternoon tea! Did you know that the mansion’s original owner, William Joseph Pendray, is from Cornwall England? For this reason, we recreated his favourite teatime snack and a specialty of Cornwall: fresh-baked scones served with jam and Devon-style cream. Visit our website for more information on the history of the mansion or to make a reservation for afternoon tea.
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Matthew Gomez is a guest services specialist and writer. His passion for hospitality comes from his love of travel, having lived in Florida, the Dominican Republic and Okanagan before moving to Victoria. His favourite thing about Victoria is the exciting food scene.