Once upon a time, there was a tart that became famous.
Henri VIII 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 tea room. Its family secret recipe has been well protected until now, which makes it seem even more exciting!
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON invits you to discover The Newens Maid of Honor Tea room’s history and gastronomy!
A tart with 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 quite 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…
So, how to describe this tart? It is made of a puff pastry shell filled with cheese curds. To me it has both salty and sweet tastes with a custardy texture. Not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed trying it and discovering the history around it!
A charming 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 … It was like diving into a different time!
A family-run Tea Room
The venue is rather small (groups need to book in advance), but the atmosphere is very cosy and staff friendly. There are a few tables beside the windows (looking out either on Kew Road or in a small garden) letting the sunlight into the room, which really adds to the charm of the place.
The food is made of a simple British cuisine: quiches, pasties or pies and salads, sandwiches and cakes. Not particularly refined, yet good tasting.
The desserts menu is more diverse (ideal for everyone having a sweet tooth) and you can choose from numerous tastes.
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).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are planning to book a table at Newens The Original Maids of Honour soon, please share your experience and opinion on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON’s blog!
To go further:
Address: Newens The Original Maids of Honour Ltd 288 Kew Road TW9 3DU Richmond (near Kew Gardens)