Many years ago I inherited a china tea service from my grandmother. It was incomplete then, and over the years other pieces got broken until there wasn’t enough left to be valid, so it was with sadness that I got rid of the final pieces. Some years later I bought some Denby pottery cups and saucers which I have been using since, but these are very heavy and quite thick, and not so nice to drink out of.
It has been on my mind for a while to get a new tea service. I am doing a lot of baking now I am feeling so much better, and after my Allerton Three tea party recently, am keen to invite more friends round for tea. It seems that afternoon tea is enjoying something of a revival in this country – it used to be a national institution but with the increased numbers of wives and mothers going out to work, and different eating habits, it rather fell into disuse. I suppose it has great nostalgic value for me because birthday parties were always tea parties, and we experienced amazing teas up in Scotland with my grandmother when I was growing up. For me, afternoon tea is a very happy meal, with highly indulgent food – not something one eats every day, but a real treat, just for sheer enjoyment and to celebrate the great British institution of home baking.
I have found that modern bone china tends to be somewhat thicker than the vintage variety, so I decided to look on Ebay to see if there were any old tea services to be had, and soon I found a quite beautiful floral one. It is made by Paragon and the design is called “Country Lane” which I love – our Devon hedgerows are full of wild flowers at this time of year, and the design on this china reflects that.
Here is the complete set. There are six cups and saucers and six tea plates, and a milk jug. There is no sugar bowl (I may look out for that as an individual item on Ebay but in the meantime have something else that would do), and the set came with one sandwich plate. The seller had the second sandwich plate as a stand-alone item and I decided to buy that too.
The china is in excellent condition. It is beautifully thin and delicate and the milk jug pours with no trace of a drip. I tried it out for my tea this afternoon, and had forgotten just how much better good tea tastes from a fine bone china cup – like wine from cut crystal!
Here is the backstamp. Nice to know that Paragon has a Royal Warrant! I wonder if the Queen uses this same tea service when she sits down for her afternoon tea? I certainly felt like a queen this afternoon.
The beautiful milk jug.
One of the two sandwich plates.
Now all I need to get is one of those 3-tier cake stands! They are so exuberant and really make a tea table! I was looking for one on Ebay yesterday but couldn’t find one I liked enough to buy, so I shall keep looking.
I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes in my “Bake Off Creme de la Creme” book. If I make them well enough, I think they will make a great partnership with this beautiful china.