A Bloomsbury Tea
Posted on January 13th, 2018
Located on the doorstep of Bloomsbury, an area of genteel elegance and garden squares. An area at the heart of which a highly creative group of intellectuals, writers and artists, known as The Bloomsbury Group would collectively meet. I was invited by the Charlotte Street Hotel for the launch of their Bloomsbury Tea. This set me thinking.
Here is a post where history enhances your culinary experience, at one of London’s most beautiful and stylish hotels. Kit Kemp needed to look no further than the legacy of this eclectic group of people for her design inspiration.
Who were the Bloomsbury Group:
This drawing by Nina Cosford gives you a visual idea of who some of them were, so I won’t bore you with all the names.
They group met at Cambridge and once back in London, settled in Bloomsbury. The Stephen siblings, Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby and Adrian, moved to 46 Gordon Square after the death of their father, Sir Leslie Stephen in 1904. Their friends followed suit, and the Bloomsbury Group was born. A mix of writers, thinkers, artists and critics.
The shining star at the heart of the group was Vanessa (nee Stephen) Bell. She would have ‘At Homes’. These gatherings were intellectual conversations on ethics, society and art. They asked each other questions. It was as exciting as it was liberating for them, as they opened up and trusted each other. They were the history of thought, the history of ideas, they were also involved with the art & literature of France – so often overlooked, yet so obvious in many of their paintings.
Vanessa decided early on they would never use napkins. They would eat whatever they wanted at any time of day; coffee at midnight, wine at noon. Little rebellions that were important in the movement of their circle.
They were an extraordinarily exciting group of people. “They lived in Squares, painted in Circles and loved in Triangles”, which leads me to this beautiful and inspired tea, devised by Braad Johns at the Charlotte Street Hotel.
A Bloomsbury Tea
We had tea in one of the dining rooms. You sit and relive the era in the sumptuous surroundings of design & culture. Roger Fry was a leading contributor to the Omega Workshops in 1930. He collected a group of people who brought design and art together for the workshop where it could flourish. The little desk in the corner, the lampshade designs, the paintings on the wall. Bringing art and culture into the home is truly reflected in the style of this hotel.
The Bloomsbury tea is taken from the Bloomsbury Cookbook, and everything on the menu has something to do with someone from the Bloomsbury Group. Lots of lovely different things to read and enjoy as you eat your tea; from a Clive Bell’s chocolate layer cake, to the best little Croque Monsieur I’ve eaten this side of the channel.
I said there were no rules with the Bloomsbury Group, but make sure you try their Oscar Gimlet, uniquely created for the Bloomsbury Tea, based on gin from the Bloomsbury distillery. I’m not a gin girl, but this tasted like a gentle margarita, with notes of coriander and galangal. I sound like I know what I’m talking about, I don’t, but it tasted delicious, and I was jolly happy to break the rules for it!
My Bloomsbury Tea Summary
It is no secret that I love Firmdale Hotels and their movie nights. Kit Kemp has created a superb collection of hotels, each one different to the area it calls home. She has an extraordinary eye for detail. I’m sure that’s what I love about her hotels. Each one is an adventure of beauty in design and detail. Even down to the beautiful Wedgwood mythical designed china used to serve the tea.
What is it that makes going to a city hotel exciting? Hotels for me are pure escapism, indulgent and 100% enjoyable. The Charlotte Street Hotel is a perfect choice, right in the heart of Bloomsbury.
This tea is a treat for anyone wanting something to talk about, and not just eat. It’s about the design, the art, the detail and the alternative conversation about where you are, and who were this extraordinary group of creatives who left such a legacy behind them. Enjoy your tea at any time of day and break the rules, it is as delicious as it looks.
Tea is available at The Charlotte Street Hotel
6th August – 16 September 2018
£26pp & £39pp with an Oscar Gimlet
Further reading on The Bloomsbury Group HERE