Queen Victoria visited Luttrellstown Castle twice during her reign where she enjoyed afternoon tea and to celebrate this along with the 200thanniversary of her birth, the exquisite Luttrellstown Castle Resort launches its very first Queen Victoria inspired Christmas Afternoon Tea.
The exclusive Castle will throw open its’ doors each Sunday in December to celebrate Queen Victoria and this luxurious of traditions in her honour. The delightful afternoon tea menu will include sweet treats prepared by Head Chef Nathan Greensmith.
Afternoon Tea is €50 and Champagne Afternoon Tea is €65
The creation of ‘Afternoon Tea’
The quintessential daily ritual is synonymous with the notion of afternoon tea, probably because the social ceremony became properly established during the later years of Victoria’s reign when it became a daily activity for her and her guests.
But, according to legend, it was Anna Maria Stanhope, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and a lady in waiting to the Queen who is believed to have originally created afternoon tea. In the 1840’s, Anna, who was too hungry to wait for dinner that was not scheduled to be served until 9:00pm, requested a small meal comprised of bread with butter and petites like biscuits, cakes and other niceties to be brought to her boudoir. Anna began to send invitations to her friends and invite them up to her dressing room to share in this meal with her. The Queen learnt of this pursuit and instantly loved the idea – the tradition of Afternoon Tea was born.
Queen Victoria’s favourite tea is recorded as Earl Grey tea, a China black tea infused with Oil of Bergamot, and served with her favourite shortbread biscuits. Tea was always served from elegant silver teapots into fine bone china teacups, Afternoon Tea and Cream Tea were set on low tables as the ladies relaxed in comfortable parlour chairs or in the garden, while High Tea was served at the supper table.
The Victoria Sponge
By the late 1840’s the Queen was hosting daily formal dress afternoon tea parties in her rooms at Belvoir Castle which always ended before 7pm, to give them all time to change and be ready for dinner at 9pm. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and of course, tea. Victoria herself enjoyed having light cake with buttercream and fresh raspberries. After her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, the Queen spent time at Osborn House on the Isle of Wight and according to historians, it was here that the Victoria Sponge Cake was named after Queen Victoria.
Christmas and the Victorians
No era in history has influenced the way in which we celebrate Christmas, quite as much as the Victorians. Before Victoria‘s reign started in 1837 nobody had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. No Christmas cards were sent and most people did not have holidays from work. It was Victoria’s marriage to the German-born Prince Albert that introduced some of the most prominent aspects of Christmas including the Christmas tree, Christmas decorations and gift giving. And, the Christmas feast, although had its roots in the middle ages, it was during the Victorian period that the dinner we now associate with, began to take shape and roast turkey became the popular option!
The wealth and technologies generated by the industrial revolution of the Victorian era changed the face of Christmas forever and commenced the commercialisation of the most wonderful time of year.