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Anna Maria Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford, is credited with having begun afternoon teatime. Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, Anne began to suffer a "sinking feeling" in her stomach around four o'clock in the afternoon as the noon meal had become skimpier. To help her make it from the noon meal to the late formal dinner, Anne first asked servants to sneak in a pot of tea and bread.
Later, as she became more comfortable with her late afternoon meal, Anne began asking friends to join her in her rooms at Belvoir Castle around five o'clock in the afternoon. She followed the traditional European tea service format and served a collection of small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, sweets and tea.
When she returned to London, the Duchess had enjoyed her summer treat so much that she continued the practice by inviting friends to visit for "tea and a walk in the fields." Other noblewomen soon took up the practice of serving a light afternoon meal and the true teatime was born.
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