Legend states that Anna Maria Stanhope (1783-1857), known as the Duchess of Bedford, was the creator of afternoon tea. The Duchess felt the noon meal had become inadequate and claimed she suffered from “a sinking feeling” around four o’clock in the afternoon and so the Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and some bread. Adopting the European tea service format, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o’clock at Belvoir Castle. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets and of course, tea. This practice became so
popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walk in the fields.” The practice of inviting friends for tea in the afternoon was quickly adopted by other social hostesses and is still a tradition that continues today.