Home made scones for afternoon tea, sweet or savory are made quickly and easily as in this scones recipe. They are delicious hot or cold and British scones are a major part in any Afternoon Tea 

It is believed that credit for the custom of the Afternoon Tea goes to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. The usual habit of serving dinner as late as 9:00 pm left the Duchess hungry in the late afternoon. To stave off the hunger she would order tea, bread and butter and cakes to be served in her room. This was thought to be an excellent idea and the habit caught on and the afternoon tea was born.

The ‘At Home’ tea soon evolved throughout England, where announcements would be sent to relatives and friends stating at what hour tea would be served. Entertainment was sometimes provided but more often it was simply conversation and a little idle gossip. On a particular day of the week one would remain at home all day and receive visitors and serve tea, cakes and sandwiches or other niceties. If sent an ‘At Home’ notice it was expected that unless regrets were sent that all who received a notice would attend. There was at least one person holding an at home day on any given day, and social ties were established as women saw each other almost every day at different houses.

The tradition of ‘At Home’ has long died out, but the serving of Afternoon Tea continues (High Tea in Scotland). Many leading hotels serve Afternoon Tea from about 3:00 pm until 5:00 as well as cafés and tea shops. One well-known tea room,  Bettys in Yorkshire, has a global reputation for serving the quintessential meal.

Afternoon tea traditionally starts with savory finger – sized smoked salmon, cucumber, or egg and mustard cress sandwiches – followed by scones with jam and cream (clotted cream in Cornwall and Devon), and finally a selection of cakes. Variations through Britain may include the serving of English Muffins , thinly sliced, hot buttered toast, crumpets, and in Scotland even a hot main course dish; bacon and eggs or a steak pie as favorites.

Tea is traditionally served from heavy, ornate, silver teapots into delicate bone china cups. Milk or lemon served with the tea is still a personal preference. The sandwiches, the scones and the cakes should arrive at table on tired cake stands.

Photo and Text by Elaine Lemm

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 6 comments

  1. Cranberry Morning Reply

    How I wish I’d known about Betty’s when I was in York! I guess there was just so many other things to notice and enjoy. Next time, for sure!

    Those chocolates!! A picture IS worth a thousand words.

    Enjoying these posts. Keep up the good work. I’ve read two scones posts this morning. I think scones are in my near future. 🙂

  2. Cranberry Morning Reply

    I’m really not stalking you, lol, but I’ve been looking at that widget you’ve got and wondered if you’ve seen the movie, ‘Mrs. Brown’ with Judi Dench and Billy Connolly. Here’s the link to the second part from Youtube. Of course, the first part is there too, but I love the part when John Brown arrives. 🙂 This movie is one of my favorites!!

  3. J_on_tour@jayzspaze Reply

    More talk of food…. I like this post !!
    Bettys tea rooms in York and Harrogate are both quintessentially the refinement of Englishness. Unfortunately, it’s not somewhere that I have sampled due to, how shall I say it, the “aristocratic ” prices comparable on a small scale with Babbington tea rooms in Rome. It’s a place where normal people go for a special treat, not forgetting the English thing of having to queue outside beforehand. Those that don’t sample its delights, “gawk” through the York window at the cake plates and ….those living lavishly … for 30 minutes !!

  4. Abby Rogers Reply

    Wow, now I really want to gawk at an expensive tea room! Maybe one day I’ll go in and buy a single chocolate….

    No problem, Cranberry! No, I’ve never seen Mrs. Brown, but I’ll look around for it. Thanks for the suggestion!

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