Tea at The Spaniards

Dickens’ Pickwick Papers (1836-37) includes a visit by Mr Pickwick’s litigious landlady, Mrs Bardell, to The Spaniards in Hampstead for tea. Notice that Hampstead is considered the country, and that tea is accompanied by bread and butter, with no jam or cakes.

The party walked forth in quest of a Hampstead stage. This was soon found, and in a couple of hours they all arrived safely in the Spaniards Tea-gardens, where the luckless Mr. Raddle’s very first act nearly occasioned his good lady a relapse; it being neither more nor less than to order tea for seven, whereas (as the ladies one and all remarked), what could have been easier than for Tommy to have drank out of anybody’s cup—or everybody’s, if that was all—when the waiter wasn’t looking, which would have saved one head of tea, and the tea just as good!

However, there was no help for it, and the tea-tray came, with seven cups and saucers, and bread-and-butter on the same scale. Mrs. Bardell was unanimously voted into the chair, and Mrs. Rogers being stationed on her right hand, and Mrs. Raddle on her left, the meal proceeded with great merriment and success.

‘How sweet the country is, to be sure!’ sighed Mrs. Rogers; ‘I almost wish I lived in it always.’

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