Monday, June 22, 2015

Eleventh Day in London - Woburn Abbey

This was our last day of sightseeing.  A driver would pick us up at our hotel at 11:00 a.m. the next day [May 12th], to take us to Heathrow Airport for our flight back to Michigan.  

Following breakfast we went to Earl's Court tube station for the last time [this trip] to catch a tube to the mainline train station that would transport us to Flitwick, where a taxi would take us to Woburn Abbey, the family seat of the Dukes of Bedford for over 300 years.

Reason for visiting Woburn Abbey?  It was the home of Anna Maria Stanhope Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford - the woman who named and popularized the ritual of Afternoon Tea. 

Anna married Francis Russell, the eldest son of the Sixth Duke of Bedford in 1808.  When he succeeded to the title in 1839 they made Woburn Abbey their home.

Anna was Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria from 1837-1841, and in 1841 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Woburn Abbey.  

In the Duke's Corridor at Woburn Abbey a portrait hangs of Anna wearing her peeress's robes as Marchioness of Travistock [pictured below]. On her wrist is a beautiful gold and diamond bracelet with a miniature of Queen Victoria which was presented to her by the Queen in 1838.

The bracelet is displayed in a case in the Gold Vault at Woburn.

Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside Woburn.  The 15th Duke and Duchess of Bedford currently reside there with their two children.  

All of the Duchesses have made contributions to Woburn, so Anna is honored equally amongst them.

Anna and her husband were known for their hospitality, and Woburn records show they entertained nearly 12,000 guests in 1859.

There is a portrait of Anna in Queen Victoria's bedroom, as well as some mementos given to her by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

[Internet Photo]

The Blue Drawing Room is most closely associated with Anna, because it's the room where she had Afternoon Tea with her friends. She began the custom shortly after becoming a Lady-in-waiting as the time between lunch and dinner, sometimes as late as 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., was far too long, and she remarked to her husband that she suffered a "sinking feeling."  So she invited the other ladies at the palace to take tea with her, served around 5:00 p.m., which included delicate sandwiches and little triangular cakes called 'wigs.'

A table is set up for tea in the Blue Drawing Room, as well as a small portrait of Anna sitting on a cabinet.

Below, the 14th Duchess of Bedford takes tea in the Blue Drawing Room.

[Internet Photo]

The State Saloon is another room where Anna Maria entertained her house guests.

[Internet Photo]

Anna was very popular and well liked not only by her friends, but also the estate people, and her husband adored her.  She was fond of gardening and was responsible for laying out the South Terrace garden.  

She loved theatricals and performing in them in the Theatre at Woburn.  She also enjoyed embroidery as a pastime when she was at court.  A large embroidered screen is displayed in the Private Dining Room done by her.

~ Arriving at Woburn Abbey ~

~ The Garden and Gift Shoppe, where you purchase your ticket to tour the mansion. ~

~ Inside the gift shoppe ~

[Lori and Me]

My purchases were a box of fudge...

A tea tin...

And a commemorative book.

~ With ticket in hand we walked up the brick road leading to the mansion ~

Along the walkway we passed ladder racks, and an explanation sign affixed to them. 

~ Side entrance used for touring the mansion ~

~ After touring the mansion we walked back to the Duchess' Tea Room ~

~ Interior of the Tea Room ~

~ Loved the Tea Room Bunting ~

~ Tiered servers ready for Afternoon Tea ~

We went through the buffet line for scones and tea.

They serve 'Suki Tea' but it wasn't available to purchase in the tea room.  The server said it could be ordered online.

After we had our tea we walked around the grounds.  Below is the arch to the North Court. 

~ Cedar of Lebanon ~

~ Other side of the North Arch ~

~ View of Woburn Abbey from the front ~

~ Then it was time for our taxi to pick us up and take us back to the train station ~

When we got back to our hotel's neighborhood, we had our last meal of the trip at another pub called the Courtfield.

~ Interior ~

~ I ordered a Jacket Potato topped with bar-b-que pork and cheese. ~

When we left the pub we decided to walk around the block in the opposite direction of our hotel to view another neighborhood.

~ And we came out at this corner ~

Directly across the street was a Marks and Spencer Simply Food Market, so we decided to go inside.

I'm so glad we did because I found a tin of shortbread cookies commemorating the birth of Princess Charlotte that I brought home with me.

~ At another small shop I got a cute keepsake postcard ~

Then we went back to our hotel to pack for our departure.  This concludes my series of posts about my London trip.  I hope you've enjoyed traveling along vicariously.  It was a very full itinerary, and we were on the go everyday, but it was a fabulous trip.  Since all good things must come to an end, we had to say good-bye to London. A few places remained on the itinerary that we didn't have time to visit, so I hope to return again someday! 


  1. I'm so glad you and Lori could make this trip. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting all these wonderful castles and historic sites along with you! I do hope to visit some of them in person one day. Love the postcard!

  2. Phyllis, what a joy to follow along your travels with Lori in England and recall some of the places I have enjoyed there in the past. It was fun to “take tea” with you at some places I hadn’t been as well.
    Dolly’s, The Even Keel, The Orangery, Laduree’s, The Tea River Cruise, Highclere Castle, Fortnum & Mason and Maids of Honour. I never had time to go out to Maids of Honour so it was wonderful to see their tea offerings. I still hope one day to taste one of those famous pastries. The tea at Byfleet Manor was wonderful to see. What a gracious hostess.
    Great to relive history through your museum, castle and cathedral visits. Your sharing of the Evensong services was very special.
    Thank you so much for jogging wonderful memories and adding some new ones too.

  3. A fabulous trip indeed! With your trip to Woburn Abbey, you have added another "Bucket List" stop for my next trip to England. With all that blue in those lovely rooms, I do believe I would have adored having tea there a few hundred years back (or today, for that matter)! So glad you got to visit and give us a report!

  4. You found some fun souvenirs from the darling postcard to the fudge and commemorative cookie tin! What a memorable adventure!

  5. So many great photos. I always notice there are no trees around those stately, large buildings. (Such as Highclere). Your tin is a real keepsake!


Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!