The 18th century is often described as the age of elegance – in dress, etiquette, furniture, ceramics and silver. And the Huguenot craftsmen – goldsmiths, silk weavers, designers played a large, inspirational part in this.
Tea from China was v expensive – but if you could afford it, you could afford the superb equipage designed by the Huguenot goldsmiths – tea kettle, teapot, casters, trays. And you would want to be seen – wearing your vastly expensive gown or – if a man- your patterned silk waistcoat and coat – and you would have your own or your family’s portrait pained. Hence the domestic tea party conversation pieces. You would drink from the new porcelain ‘dishes’ and display your finery at this so-English refined refreshment.
The arrival of hot drinks, new ornate silverware, porcelain and glorious flowered silks ushered in a social revolution with echoes to this day as ladies dress up and take tea at the Ritz.
Want to know more: see my lecture on this subject