“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

– Mad Hatters Tea Party at The Sanderson Hotel –

The serving of afternoon tea has experienced a truly epic resurgence in popularity over the last decade, now featuring at the top of most Londoners to do list. This most quintessential of English customs is however a relatively new tradition.

Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, is widely attributed with introducing afternoon tea in England around 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and would ask that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room at Woburn Abbey during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her in her rooms. This practice became so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London after the summer.

This pause for afternoon tea soon became a fashionable social event and during the 1880’s upper-class and society women began changing into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea, which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock. Afternoon tea is distinct from the more substantial high tea, which was traditionally served in middle and lower class households later in the day in place of dinner. The names derive from the height of the tables, high tea being served at a dinner table.

To recognise the best in afternoon tea service and creativity, the London Afternoon Tea awards sponsored by afternoontea.co.uk, look for outstanding delivery in all aspects of the afternoon tea experience including service, food and drink. Over 30 of London’s finest hotels and restaurants were shortlisted in 2016, with the top four awards presented as follows:

A further fourteen establishments were awarded highly commended:

  • The Langham London
  • Fortnum & Mason
  • Harrods – Georgian Restaurant
  • Sketch
  • The Milestone Hotel
  • Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair
  • The Connaught
  • The Goring
  • Royal Garden Hotel
  • Corinthia London
  • The Dorchester
  • Ting @ Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard
  • The Lanesborough
  • Conrad London St James

Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair W1K 4HR


Although Claridge’s began life as a single house hotel at 51 Brook Street it soon began to grow both in size and reputation, becoming a favourite with both royalty and European heads of state during the late 1800’s. Claridge’s was purchased and significantly remodelled by Richard D’Oyly Carte, owner of the Savoy at the end of the nineteenth century.

Having been significantly updated again at the end of the twentieth century, Claridge’s still retains its timeless elegance and luxury ranking today, with the likes of Jade Jagger and Lulu Guinness describing it as their ultimate treat.

Served daily between 2.45pm and 5.30pm in the splendour of Thierry Despont’s magnificent Foyer, inspired by the 1930s’ heyday of art deco, Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s is truly a magical experience and one you will want to return to time and again.


To make a reservation visit the website: http://www.claridges.co.uk

The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London SW1X 7LA


The Mandarin Oriental overlooking Hyde Park and Knightsbridge exudes an enticing mix of elegance and luxury. Currently undergoing an 18- month renovation programme, the hotel will remain open throughout, however afternoon tea will temporarily be served in the Loggia whilst the Rosebery Lounge undergoes a soft refurbishment.

To make a reservation visit the website: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/london/

Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG


Served between 12.30 – 4pm Monday – Saturday and 1pm – 5pm on Sunday Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson is a splendidly eccentric affair. Themed around the Mad Hatters Tea Party of Alice in Wonderland fame, you can expect menus hidden inside vintage books, teapots adorned with kings and queens, sandwich plates decorated with birdcages, carousels and ticking clocks upon which rest savoury, specialty sandwiches.


To make a reservation visit the website: https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/originals/originals-sanderson-london/eat-drink/mad-hatters-afternoon-tea

Park Room at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 7TN


Built on the site of Grosvenor House, the London home of the Duke of Westminster, the Grosvenor house Hotel has a long and aristocratic pedigree dating back to the 17th Century. Situated directly on Park Lane and now part of the JW Marriott Hotel group, the Hotel first opened its doors back in May 1929.

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is served daily between 12.30 and 6pm in the Park Room. With the design inspired by its close proximity to the Royal Park, the tranquility of the Park Room offers welcome respite from the shops and sights of Park Lane and Mayfair with a varied menu; featuring Afternoon Tea as well as a la carte options and a creative Cocktail and Champagne menu at the bar.


To make a reservation visit the website: http://www.parkroom.co.uk

Afternoon Tea Etiquette!

Milk or Tea First?

This is possibly one of the most debated questions in the tea world; however most now adhere to the convention of pouring the tea first, thus allowing the recipient to flavour the tea to their own personal preference.


Place your spoon in a 6 o’clock position in the cup and fold the tea towards the 12 o’clock position whilst making sure not to ‘clink’ the spoon against the sides of the cup.

Pinkies up?

There is a common misconception about the need to outstretch your little finger whilst drinking tea; however etiquette experts state that this is not the case.

Which goes first, the jam or the cream?

Both the Cornish and Devonshire people lay claim to the invention of the Cream Tea, and each have a view on the order of the toppings. The Devon tradition is cream first with jam spread on top whilst the Cornish tradition is jam first topped off with clotted cream….

Published in Aspect County Magazine February 2017

Art raises a lot of questions. That’s what it does…!

– Simone Riley –

As a consequence of the volatile economic environment in which we are currently residing, more and more people are considering buying original art not just as a means of enhancing their work and living environments, but also as an investment for the future.

Knowing what or where to buy can be quite daunting and I am frequently contacted by people wishing to invest an inheritance or windfall, or begin an art collection as part of their pension planning, asking for support and advice. As with all investments there is an element of risk, therefore my initial advice is always to buy what you love. With a huge array of types and styles of original art now available in the marketplace and opportunities to view and buy art ever increasing, it is also important to be thorough in your preparation and research before you buy.

Below is a brief check-list to get you started:


Preparation is key to everything and shopping for original art is no exception. Take some time to think about your requirements. If you intend to display the art you buy, have an idea of the spaces you have available. Make sure you are familiar with colours, the degree of daylight and general surroundings of where art work could be placed in your home, garden or office.

Remember direct sunlight and heat can be very damaging to original artwork, causing among other things fading, cracking and buckling, which could affect the resale value.


Clearly identify your budget. If you are intending to buy art as an investment, study the market thoroughly or pay for independent advice.


When you begin looking, make notes. Make a note of Artists whose work you enjoy viewing in public galleries and museums or that you see in magazines. Make a note of the artists you like in commercial galleries and art fairs you visit, including size and price of the work. See if there are any postcards or pictures of the work that you can take away with you for reference. Go online and look at comparison artists and pricing.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Art raises a lot of questions. That’s what it does. This can make the whole thing quite baffling for the novice investor/collector. Some years ago the esteemed Australian art academic Terry Smith suggested what he called the “Four Ways of Looking at Art”. Smith’s four simple questions asked the “what”, “how”, “when” and “why”

What can I see just by looking at this art work?

How was this art work actually made?

When was it made, and what was happening in art and broader history at that time?

Why did the artist create this work and what is its meaning to them, and to us now?

Each of these questions reveals something more of the context of an artwork, which in turn provides much of the meaning for the piece and its potential future value.

When you have found an artwork you are particularly interested in, take some time to explore the artist’s background and practice in more depth. You could do this by looking at the artists website or asking the seller to provide you with the artists statement and CV. Alongside the medium and number of works available for sale, information such as if the artist is the recipient of any public awards or if their artwork is included in any major collections is significant as it will influence the sale price and ultimately the potential future value.

If the artwork that has caught your eye is out of your budget, ask if there are any other smaller pieces or unframed works by the same artist, or in a different medium. Original prints, such as screen prints and etchings, are a great entry-level option, and can also offer the chance to buy work by a big name. When looking to buy sculpture, look at the medium, is it bronze or resin; is it a clay or a metal piece for example. Is it Limited Edition or a one off original…

If you are interested in investing in original art or starting an art collection you can contact Lesley through Aspect County Magazine or email: info@pureartsgroup.co.uk

PURE Award winners 2016-17

Best overall artist:



Image: Tumbling II


2D Prize winner (Joint winners):



Image: Hot Rod meet, Daytona Beach USA




Image: The State of Being


3D Prize winner:




Ceramics Prize:



Image: Seated Hare


Best Emerging Artist Bursary sponsored by Artwrite:



Image: Nimeny Pimeny


Go to www.pureartsgroup.co.uk to download the full 2016-17 Artist Directory

Follow us on facebook @purecontemporary and Twitter @pureartsgroup

Header image: Simone Riley

Published in Aspect County Magazine February 2017/Articulate