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The Top-Secret Feminist History of Tea Rooms

By: Cara Strickland in JSTOR Daily

When you hear the words “tea room,” it’s likely that you immediately think of a Victorian-inspired establishment best suited to special occasions, a place for women in pearls. If you’d lived at the turn of the 20th century in Scotland, or the early 1900s in America, however, it’s likely that you would have a different picture entirely.

If you could travel back to Glasgow in 1878, you’d be just in time to have a bite to eat at Kate Cranston’s newly opened Crown Tea Rooms. Cranston’s brother, Stuart, was a tea retailer who had the brilliant idea of putting up a few tables and chairs and serving tea and light refreshments in his shop three years before the first tea rooms opened. The idea of a place to have a light lunch, alcohol free, caught on in the height of the temperance movement. Cranston’s tea rooms (four in all) became just a few of the new trend, mostly catering light meals to businessmen, well before tea rooms began popping up in department stores and near suburbs. These tea rooms were largely focused on female diners. Click here to continue reading

This article was offered by Ed Raiola

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