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|Sometimes mistakenly referred to as "High Tea" q.v.|
During the early nineteenth century Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford reportedly complained of being hungry during the late afternoon. People at that time usually only ate two meals a day; breakfast, and then dinner at 8 p.m. The answer for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack in the early afternoon.
Eventually she invited friends to join her and this practice proved very popular. Other social hostesses quickly picked up on this novel idea and the practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.