Monday, June 15, 2015

Eighth Day - High Tea at Maids of Honour

By the time we arrived at Kew Gardens, which is across the street from Newens Original Maids of Honour Bakery and 'Refreshment Room', it was getting late in the afternoon, and a light rain was falling.  We decided to skip the tour of Kew Palace and Gardens, and go directly to Newens Original Maids of Honour Bakery/'Refreshment Room' [aka tea room]. It has been on my bucket list for quite awhile.

~ 288 Kew Road, Kew Gardens, Surrey ~

In 1887  Robert Newens, opened his second bakery location to provide refreshments to the crowds visiting the wrought-iron palm houses at Kew Gardens. The building was reduced to rubble during World War II.  After the war, great-grandson, Peter Newens, rebuilt the current faux Tudor bakery and 'Refreshment Room' [don't you love that term?], with the double-fronted bay windows, Windsor chairs, chintz curtains and log fireplace.  

~ Plaque affixed to front exterior of tea room ~ 

Maids of Honour are British tartlets that were favored by Henry VIII, and have been the star attraction of this bakery and others in Richmond for many years.

The story goes that Henry VIII visited his queen, Anne Boleyn, in her apartments at one of the two palaces [Hampton Court or Richmond Palace]. She and the maids of honour attending her were eating sweet tartlets from a silver dish.  Upon tasting them Henry declared the 'Maids of Honour' to be so wonderful that he confiscated the recipe, locked it in an iron box, and announced they should be for royal consumption only.  Seriously, Henry? Naughty supremacist!  ;-)

The recipe was leaked in the 18th century - allegedly sold by a lady at court - and the delicacy became a fashionable must-eat in the bakeries around Richmond, including one where a young apprentice, Robert Newens, worked.  He set up shop himself in 1850, creating his own version of the tarts, which remains a secret to this day.

British TV Chef, Jamie Oliver, has created a twist on the creamy tartlets by offering a variety of flavors [chocolate, apricot, and strawberry] in addition to the original, but I saw only the original pastries at Maids of Honour.  Below is the display case featuring them.

The bakery and tea room were bustling with patrons when we arrived - including the nice lady at the tourist information desk at the tube station that we talked to earlier in the day. Thankfully it thinned out before we left so I could take photographs.

Lori and I ended up ordering their Savoury High Tea - Pot of Tea, traditional Tea Sandwiches, Cocktail Sausage Rolls, Savoury Scones with Cream Cheese, and slice of Quiche.

~ Fresh flowers on each table ~

~ I ordered Assam Darjeeling Tea ~

I ordered the Mushroom Quiche. Our waitress informed us they were all out of  Sausage Rolls, so she gave us a slice of beef pie to share.

~ My sandwiches were Ham, Egg Salad, and Smoked Salmon ~

~ Mother and Daughter ~

~ Savory Scones dusted with flour, and served with Cream Cheese.  Different, but good. ~

Famous Maids of Honour Pastries - Henry VIII probably rolled over in his grave!  ;-)

~  Um, Um good! ~

~ Visiting this tea room was a highlight for me ~

From Maids of Honour, we walked through a lovely residential area on our way to the station for our ride back to London.

It was a wonderful day!

*  *  *

Today I'm joining Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday


  1. What a lovely tea room. Everything looks delicious! So glad you were able to visit and share the photos. Have a happy day and week ahead!

  2. What did you think of the tarts? Worthy of royal favor :-)

  3. You're a girl after my own heart, it would be hard to do but I'd choose a visit to the tea room over a walk around the gardens too!

  4. So amazing. What a wonderful place for tea! So happy that you are sharing so many photos, too.

  5. Another great spot to add to the list of places I want to visit one day. Oh, the blue and white transferware just grabbed me, too! Just lovely.

  6. How delightful! What a great post ... lots of history and I can't pass up a tea room either. The goodies and tea look yummy. Happy Monday. Have a lovely week.

  7. Phyllis, I learned a lot in this post. Thanks for sharing. Cup of tea and savory goodies while it rains is a good thing. Sylvia D.

  8. This post was a walk down memory lane for me! Many years ago, a friend and I sat directly below the photo of the King at this charming little tea room. We didn't make it to the gardens either.. the tea room was our destination! And those delicious Maid of Honour tarts... oh, yum!

  9. I had no idea of the history of Maids of Honour tarts, glad you and Lorrie were able to have some along with the sumptuous savoury high tea you enjoyed.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Phyllis.

  10. I have never been to a tea like this and it looks scrumptious....

  11. This is the first time that I've heard of Maids of Honour tarts. Glad you were able to cross off another tearoom on your bucketlist!

  12. Wish we could have gone in 2007. Everything looks great.


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