Today I went to Maids of Honour, a very traditional tea house and bakery in Kew Gardens. This little place has been in Kew Gardens forever, to be more precise, since 1887. Although the original shop suffered severe bomb damage during the World War II, it was rebuilt in 1940 and remodeled as we know it today.
I was invited to Maids of Honour by a dear friend who has been an authentic local for years. Although he lived in Barbican most of his time, his life has always revolved around Richmond and this was a place he knew from long ago. Maids of Honour has a long story to tell: “It all started with the dainty Maid of Honour cakes after which we are named. It is believed that Henry VIII, King of England from 1509-1547, came across Anne Boleyn and her Maids of Honour (the young ladies who attended the Queen), eating the cakes from a silver dish. Tasting one for himself, the King was so delighted by its ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ sensation that he confiscated the recipe and demanded to be kept in a secret in a locked iron box at the Richmond Palace”. Today the Maids of Honour ‘s recipe is still a secret but you can always get a taste of it.
Apart from its historical appeal, this place has a cozy, warm (literally quite warm inside), friendly and relaxed atmosphere that is very comforting and special. It is a place where you can enjoy very good bakery along with a warm cup of tea. Although there is nothing particularly special about the tea itself (as it was a teabag inside a small metallic teapot), it is the whole experience together and the unpretentious atmosphere that makes worth the visit. I had a lightly infused Lady Grey and an organic apple juice only as I unfortunately couldn’t eat any of the pastries, because of my allergy to white flour (among others). To judge from the taste of my dear friend, the scones and the Maids of Honour were as fresh and tasty as always.
For those who love traditional and historical places this is a place to go; for those homemade, authentic pastry lovers it is the right choice too; for those who are looking just for a great tea maybe not the best one; but with the company I had I am sure you would go and will have the perfect afternoon as I did!
Maids of Honour
288 Kew Road, Kew Gardens, Surrey Tw9 3DU