The Chitra Collection at Chiswick House
Some of the pieces from the world’s largest and most valuable collection of historic tea ware is to go on show to the public for the first time at Chiswick House on 21 – 22 April. Chiswick House and Gardens is playing host to a Festival of Tea on ‘National Tea Day’ on the Saturday and Sunday. The organisers say they will have more than 500 different types of tea available to try. As well as tea tasting and mixology classes the festival offers lessons in the etiquette of afternoon tea and celebrity baking masterclasses with ‘Queen of Couture Cakes’ Mitch Turner, founder of Little Venice Cake Company.
If you’re wondering what ‘tea ware’ means, it’s basically tea pots, but also tea bowls from China, tea caddies, tea chests, tea cups, saucers, spoons and glasses and Russian samovars. The Chitra Collection is owned by the N Sethia Foundation, put together by the founder of Newby teas, philanthropist Nirmal Sethia and named after his late wife. Among the collection are historic items from China, Japan, India, Russia, England, continental Europe and America. Usually kept in a vault an available only for private view, the whole collection has almost 1,700 objects dating back to the Chinese Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). Notable pieces include items by Fabergé, Tiffany, Meissen, Sèvres and Wedgwood, President Roosevelt’s tea caddy and a teapot that was owned by Admiral Lord Nelson. Some are intricate and exquisitely beautiful; others, including Nelson’s teapot, strictly functional. One has bits of barnacle still stuck to it, as it was retrieved intact from a shipwreck in the Bay of Biscay. The most valuable item in the collection, a teapot completely covered with diamonds and rubies, will not be on show. The thirty or so pieces which will be, will chart the history of tea showing how it played a central role in culture and society as a medicinal drink, a focus for hospitality, a politically significant tool of empire and a symbol of national identity.
The Tea Festival is at Chiswick House, London W4, on 21st & 22nd April. Opening hours 10.00am – 5.30pm.
Club Card offer available
The organisers have joined the Club Card scheme to offer you a 25% discount off tickets.
Adult tickets £7.50 as opposed to £10
Family tickets (2 adults + up to 3 children) £18.75 instead of £25
Go to nationalteaday.co.uk and enter the promotional code CHISWICK25