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Stone handaxe
THIS small handaxe is one of the most beautiful in the British Museum. It is made from quartz with attractive amethyst banding, a difficult material from which to make tools because it is extremely hard. The toolmaker would have had to hit with considerable force and accuracy to remove flakes. Such a high degree of difficulty makes the thin, symmetrical shape of this piece a masterpiece of the toolmakers’ art.
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Modern-day tea drinking (part two)
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Founded in Kensington in 1892, Fuller tea rooms were the ideal choice for tea drinkers looking for smaller, quieter and more elegant surroundings. As Claire Hopley, author of The History of Tea, explains, ‘Friends met in cosy alcoves; tea came in elegant cups with beribboned tongs for sugar’. Other small tea-room chains opened across the country, including the famous and still operating Betty’s of Harrogate, founded in 1919 by the Swiss confectioner, Frederick Belmont. Branches of Betty’s later opened in other Yorkshire towns, such as York, Skipton and Ilkley.


Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

The opulent lounge at the Prince of Wales Hotel located on London’s De Vere Gardens played host to elegant afternoon teas, as this Edwardian colour postcard vividly captures.



All of them offered a choice of tea blends and a wonderful selection of ambrosial pastries and cakes.

Tea drinkers looking for even smarter surroundings could head for one of many grand hotels, such as the Ritz or Brown’s, both in Mayfair, or the Savoy on the Strand. Today, the scintillating surroundings of the Ritz’s Palm Court or the country house sophistication of Brown’s English Tea Room still tempt afternoon tea devotees. These days, however, one often has to book weeks in advance to be assured a table.


Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

The Ritz’s Palm Court is as stunning today as it was when Edward VII dined there in the early twentieth century.



Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

Brown’s Hotel has been serving elegant afternoon teas in its English Tea Room for over 150 years.



During the second decade of the twentieth century, the capital was gripped by a trend for ‘tango teas’, following the arrival in London of the tango, from Argentina via Paris, in about 1910. Responding to this new craze, some of London’s grandest hotels held weekly tea dances, or thés dansants, as they were fashionably called. The most popular venue was the Waldorf Hotel, which hosted regular tango teas in its stunning Palm Court. Tables were placed around the dance floor and also in a viewing gallery above, where guests could sit down and enjoy a refreshing cup of tea between dances. In June 1913, The Dancing Times reported: ‘The tango is graceful, decorous and worthy of a place in any ballroom. If you doubt me, go to one of the Thés Dansants organised by the Boston Club on Wednesday afternoons at the Waldorf Hotel, and you will be charmed’. The Savoy was also a popular venue for tango dances. Thanks to the enthusiasm of its tango-dancing manager, Sir George Reeves-Smith, tango lessons were available at the hotel. As the fashion moved from the tango to the Charleston in the 1920s, new music was incorporated into hotels’ tea dances.


Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

Outdoor tea dances did not come better than those at Rushen Abbey’s Dancing Floor and Tea Gardens.



Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

The Waldorf Hotel’s Palm Court, where guests could indulge in their love of dancing and enjoy a revitalising cup of tea.



Far from being a solely indoor activity, tea dances were also sometimes enjoyed in specially designed tea gardens, such as those at Rushen Abbey on the Isle of Man. Tourists would flock to the island on charabancs to dance on the large wooden dance floor. Amongst the attractive gardens adorned with rambling roses, customers could delight in a cup of tea or a more substantial strawberry cream tea while listening to the orchestra and watching the dancing.


Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

Tewkesbury’s extravagant Abbey Tea Garden, as it was in 1908.



Modern-day tea drinking (part two)

Tables have been specially designed to wrap around the tree trunks at the Orchard Tea Gardens in Bossington, Somerset.



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