Once upon a time there was a tart that became famous. HenriVIII is said to be the first to use its name when he saw Ann Boleyn and other Maids Of Honour at his Richmond Palace eating the cakes from a silver dish.
Luckily, this tart is still to be found in Richmond (West London) in one of the oldest London bakeries. Its family secret recipe has been well protected until now, which makes it seem even more exciting!
I went to The Newens Maid of Honor Tearoom and Bakery a few months ago and really enjoyed this historic and gastronomic discovery.
A historic destiny
Thanks to Henri VIII, the Maid of Honour tarts have enjoyed their glory over the centuries. The recipe was for long a well kept secret (at first, it was said the Maid who invented it was imprisoned within the Palace and would bake it for the King only) until it was disclosed to a bakery in Richmond in the early 18th Century.
This was where Robert Newens, the grandfather, worked as an apprentice and found out the recipe. The secret recipe has then been passed on from one generation to the next.
It is incredible to think that today visitors to the Original Maids of Honour go to this very same shop as in the mid 20th century (when it was rebuilt after severe damage during the World War 2). Although it’s no longer run by the Newens family, little else has changed…
A unique atmosphere
Actually, when I booked a table at Newens, I was really excited about the history of the place and the popularity of its Maids of Honour tarts. Then, I was totally seduced by the 1930 atmosphere: the old pictures on the wall, the porcelain tableware, the old-fashioned charm … made me feel in another time!
The food was made of simple meals, quite good.
After the mains, we chose various desserts from the menu…
Despite our historic interest in the famous Maids of Honour pastry, I have to admit we found these ones (in the pictures) much more attractive and tasty than the famous tarts. But that’s a personal viewpoint…
The important thing is that this historic place still offers a speciality which has survived for centuries in an old-fashioned Tearoom that makes it rather unique.
Add to that the proximity of Kew Gardens and you’ll find an excellent way of spending a great Sunday with family or friends… (except that you may have to book a table in advance to make sure you’ll get availability).
To go further:
Address: Newens The Original Maids of Honour Ltd 288 Kew Road TW9 3DU Richmond (near Kew Gardens)