Teatime at Hull Minster

I am always amazed by serendipity. Two thoughts came together for me today at approximately the same time.  The first was when I was rummaging through my photo archives to find the photos documenting a visit to Wilberforce House Museum in Kingston upon Hull, United Kingdom. The second came to me by way of an e-mail from On This Day with the announcement that today, on January 10, 1839, tea from India first arrived in the United Kingdom.

For those who read my post, “The Group of Twenty-Two,” you may recall that one of the twenty-two reformers who met on the night of June 16, 1824 at “Old Slaughter’s Coffee House” was William Wilberforce.  What they discussed that evening had far-reaching consequences that have extended into the 21st Century.  Twenty-two people believed that it was possible to stop cruelty to animals, to change the way society views other lives who share the earth. That night marked the genesis of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the first animal welfare charity to be founded in the world.

William Wilberforce was a British politician, philanthropist, and a champion of many causes and campaigns that  led to dramatic changes in the way that society viewed injustice.  He is best known for leading the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade. He worked twenty years towards this goal, a life ambition.  He would live to see that the passage of the Slave Abolition Act 1833  was assured.  He died three days later.

You can understand why I was excited about visiting the home where William Wilberforce lived and where his journal is kept.  What slipped my mind, was that on the same day as our visit to Wilberforce House, we stopped by Holy Trinity Church which has now be renamed as Hull Minster.   A massive restoration project was underway, but the music was playing, and tea was being served. There was a reverent welcome to all who entered.

The popularity of tea increased rapidly during the 17th and 18th century.  Some believe it became the preferred choice of beverage because of its status among men as a therapeutic drink that could remedy a wide array of ailments.  Coffeehouses, like the Old Slaughter’s Coffee House, where elite gentlemen met,  enabled this escalating trend. Women followed the lead of Princess Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese future queen consort of England, who made tea fashionable among aristocratic women.  In beginning days, tea was precious and kept safe in locked boxes.

The Industrial Revolution was in full swing. How a simple, now ubiquitous, beverage came to have major social, political and economic consequences is a wider narrative that speaks to our present-day reality. Even then, the power of globalization was felt, influencing society, consumer demand, and supplying needed capital to finance factories and providing much needed calories, via sugar in tea, for a growing workforce.

Society, nations, progress are marked by ordinary men and women who live boldly during times of transitions. Perhaps they are not that ordinary.

Teatime at Hull Minster is a reminder that we may live in a world of complexity, but there is always time for tea.

37 Comments »

    • There is so much to learn about tea. It is an extraordinary history that has spanned continents, generations, societies, economic stratification. I was just reading about the history of the Russian caravans – fabulous. We are on the grandest journey, Jo. So much to learn and discovers. I think it is time to join you for tea.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your heartwarming comment. – very very much appreciated. I am very interested in the connection with the past as I believe that we are influenced by all that has come before. We are part of a wider narrative that transcends time and location. Our lives, our way of thinking will be moved forward to the future. So the question becomes, have we honoured the past while creating our reality? AND will our time be welcome and embraced by those who follow us? Looking forward to our ongoing dialogue.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I live with an ultimate tea connaisseuse and, one might say though not too loud, tea drinking addict, so as to appreciate your choice of this backward look. With your usual meticulous touch, excellent, even if this comes from one with a Ristretto appreciation and preference.
    Though I must admit that a choice green tea has a healthy and relaxing effect on our ever increasing the high speed life, despite of it being mostly self imposed!
    Thank you for this Rebecca…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am delighted that you live with a tea connaisseuse. What wonderful tea times you must have. And yes, green tea is extra special. When we visited Victoria this past September, I found a Silk Road Tea store, which was located in a building that was once the notorious opium dens. There are so many stories that are waiting to be found simply by walking out the front door. Your thought on “self-imposed” resonated. I think I’ll make a pot of green tea. Thank you, Jean-Jacques for your visit and comments.

      Like

    • It does indeed. One of my favourite books on this topic is by Sarah Rose: “For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.” (I must read that book again!!) When we take tea, we are adding to its long and complex history.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely post, Rebecca. Tea has always been a part of my life. First was black tea with milk and sugar but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve switched to green tea with a teaspoon of honey. My tea is kept in a beautiful box on my kitchen counter, on top of which sits a bejewelled green lizard who guards it night and day. 😃 The stained glass windows in Hull Minster are quite wondrous. 😍

    Liked by 2 people

    • Another kindred spirit. I love tea and make a huge pot that lasts all afternoon. And yet, a book and tea does indeed make me feel like I’m on the top of the world. How very well said! Hugs!

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  3. I love this post. The history behind the tea is great, but the bit of history of the abolition of slavery & Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is of the highest import.
    Unfortunately, man has yet, a long way to go.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A wonderful narrative, Rebecca, bringing together some fascinating events that have touched our hearts (William Wilberforce & co) and our traditions and customs almost worldwide (tea & its culinary delights).

    I also loved the images. We truly have so much for which to be grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So glad that you joined me for tea, Carolyn! I agree wholeheartedly. Your words reminded me of Maya Angelou’s prayer: “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

      Liked by 2 people

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