There are few customs in this country as quintessentially English as afternoon tea.


From being the preserve of the privileged classes, to the universally enjoyed and infinitely varied occasion that it is today, afternoon tea is loved and appreciated all over the world.

In Please pass the scones: a social history of English afternoon tea, social historian and author Gillian Perry takes us on a highly entertaining whistle-stop tour, enhanced by many luscious illustrations to make you salivate, and to bring forth your own wonderful memories.




The book covers many aspects of the afternoon tea story, including its origins, the tea trade, etiquette, dress codes, and the rise and fall of once-essential tea table features such as the slop bowl and the paper doily. It is a tradition that has a long and chequered history, one which involves smuggling, controversy and scandal, as much as it does refinement and high society.



The precise elements that make up an afternoon tea may vary – fine crockery, silver spoons, a traditional three-tiered cake stand (or a thoroughly modern alternative), delicate sandwiches, party themes, miniature sweets, fizz. But there are two things that cannot be omitted: a steaming pot of the flavoursome liquid around which all the delicious edible treats pivot, and a fresh, scrumptious scone. So how do you make the optimum cup of tea? What height should the perfect filled scone be, and is it jam or cream first? What is the tea-related origin of the expression ‘the dregs of society’? Why were tea gowns frowned upon in Victorian society?

Gillian Perry answers these and hundreds of other questions. Her style is readable, amusing and informative, and there is genuinely something for everyone in this beautifully produced, unique book.

What’s more, it makes a perfect gift for someone special in Platinum Jubilee year, and beyond.


Please pass the scones: a social history of English afternoon tea by Gillian Perry is published by Palatine Books, an imprint of Carnegie Publishing. Please see here

For a personalised signed copy please contact the author at: [email protected]