Historical Cookery

A Victorian High Tea

Lichfield Garrick


CHEF Simon Smith and historian Prof Roland Rotherham can always be relied upon to serve up some interesting facts along with the historic recipes they cook  in what have become a regular event at the Lichfield Garrick.

While the Prof throws in obscure facts and bits of personal knowledge – such as the Royal Yacht Britannia being the only ship in the British fleet with a genuine Golden Rivet or at least a gold plated one.

The rivet is a joke played on new recruits often resulting in a kick in the nether regions when they bent down to see the golden rivet and when Princess Margaret asked, in all seriousness, to see the said rivet the officers and crew had a dilemma which certainly did not involve a boot up the behind so . . . they rapidly gold plated a rivet, in less than an hour according to the Prof, then took her to see it.

The duo have covered everything from food from the Crusades to the Second World War and in their latest dip into history’s larder came up with the Victorian High Tea.


Know the difference been high tea and mere tea? Neither did I but apparently high tea is served at the table and has at least one hot dish while tea is served in the drawing room from the tea waggon – the tea trolley apparently is that thing with a tea urn which tea ladies pushed around factories and offices in a more civilised age.

Recipes included favourites of Bertie, the future Edward VII, with adult Eton mess, complete with brandy, (there is often brandy or some other alcoholic element in Prof Rotherham’s recipes) herring roe pate, kipper souffle,  hot pepper cheeses and spiced sultana tea bread.

Often there is a historical connection such as with the crab and cheese soup which was served to Queen Victoria before the annual Ghillies Ball at Balmoral.

Apart from the recipes and their history there is also plenty of advice and tips from chef Smith, who incidentally runs Thrales restaurant in Lichfield.

The daytime shows are entertaining, informative and have some very tasty and usually very simple recipes which are well spiced with history.

It all adds a little panache to dinner parties when you can say this was a favourite of Victoria (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha not Beckham) or from past shows or their cookery book Simmering Through the Ages, recipes that Richard II or the Duke of Wellington were partial to. For one-upmanship it beats recipes from the latest celebrity chef’s new book hands down.

Roger Clarke 


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