A true British import, Babington’s was established in 1893 by two single women from England, Isabel Cargill and Anna Maria Babington. Isabel was a jilted bride, who, after being abandoned at the altar, decided to seek adventure in Rome. At the time, it was considered unacceptable for a young woman to travel alone, so she found a kindred spirit in Anna Maria Babington, several years older, but eager for adventure.
The expats became quick friends and set up a tearoom that appealed to a growing English population in Rome. Here visitors could indulge in their favorite beverage while reading the newspapers and also enjoy a new luxury of the time, indoor bathrooms.
The tearoom was so successful that, within a year, Isabel and Anna Maria moved their venue to its current, prestigious location at the base of the Spanish Steps.
It was decorated in the latest fashion and became a favorite meeting place for both men and women.
Although the tearoom miraculously survived the economic devastation of World War I, it did take a toll on Anna Maria. In the 1920s, she moved to Switzerland, hoping to improve her health, but she died of a heart attack in 1929. The management of Babington’s then fell to Isabel’s family exclusively.