Text by Clara McKenna
When Lord and Lady Lyndhurst, otherwise known as Stella and Lyndy, travel to Yorkshire for their honeymoon in October 1905, tea is not the most prominent thing on their minds. It may not be on yours either. But in fact, Yorkshire is steeped in tea history. Until 2018, the earliest independent reference to tea drinking was accredited to diarist Samuel Pepys of London. However, a recent archival discovery of a shopping list written in 1644 including an order for tea, or “China drink” as it was known, revealed that perhaps the first cup of tea ever sipped in England was not in a London coffeehouse but at the private residence of Sir Arthur Ingram, Temple Newsham House in Leeds, Yorkshire, in 1644, sixteen years before previously thought.
By the 1890s, there were four times as many tea merchants as coffee merchants in the city of York. Although more likely to be called a coffeehouse, dining room, or café in Kelly’s Directory, tea was the drink of choice. One such merchant was Charles Taylor, a tea agent from London, who moved to Harrogate to start his coffee and tea company in 1886. From the beginning, Taylor recognized the effect the differences in water could have on the quality and taste of a brew. In particular, the calcium carbonate in hard water interacts with the compounds in tea creating a layer of scum. With the water found in Yorkshire covering the spectrum from soft to very hard, Taylor set out to create blends that work for tea drinkers throughout Yorkshire. Ironically, the water in the spa resort town is soft and to this day the company has hard water supplied from outside the city to test its latest blends, including its famous Yorkshire Tea.
After a day touring the Yorkshire Dales, Stella and Lyndy would’ve been able to refresh themselves at one of Taylors of Harrogate’s chain of successful coffee houses. But, unfortunately for them, it wasn’t until fifteen years later that one of the most famous tearooms in Britain opened its doors. Fritz Bützer made his way to Yorkshire after accidentally losing the address of his intended destination. Having trained as a baker and chocolatier in France and his native Switzerland, he called himself a “Chocolate Specialist” much like the victim in Murder at the Majestic Hotel. Fritz married his landlord’s daughter, changed his name to Frederick Belmont, and opened a tearoom in July 1919. He called it “Bettys”. The origin of the name is a mystery, one worthy of Stella & Lyndy! Was it inspired by Betty, a kitchen maid, and title character, who wins the heart of a duke in a popular musical? Was it an homage to Betty Lupton, the “Queen of Harrogate Wells” who served visitors spa water in the 19th century? Or was it named for Elizabeth “Betty” Rose, the granddaughter of Bettys’ first Chairman of the Board? Regardless of how it got its name, Bettys (which acquired Taylors of Harrogate in 1962) is synonymous with Yorkshire and as was once written in the Yorkshire Post:
“To Harrogate residents and visitors from far afield “Betty’s” is a household word, standing for all that is dainty, comfortable and fashionable in a café” (Dec. 10, 1926).
So, the next time you think of Yorkshire, think of tea.
Against all expectations in Edwardian England, newly married American heiress Stella Kendrick and British aristocrat Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst are bucking traditions—and investigating murder—on their honeymoon in the latest installment of the Stella & Lyndy Mysteries from acclaimed author Clara McKenna.
Leaving behind tragedies surrounding their wedding at Morrington Hall, travel-worn Stella and Lyndy arrive at the grand Majestic Hotel in York to more misfortune—their stately honeymoon suite has been given away to Horace Wingrove, owner of England’s largest confectionery. Stella refuses to let an innocent booking mistake spoil the mood, but her optimism vanishes when Horace suffocates in the room where she and Lyndy should have stayed . . .
Unlike authorities on the scene, Stella can’t believe the business magnate’s death can be explained away as an accident. Troubling signs are everywhere—strange murmurs in the hallway, tight-lipped hotel staff, and a stolen secret recipe for Wingrave’s famous chocolate. Then there are Horace’s murky intentions for visiting the historic cathedral city, and those who were closely watching his every move . . .
As Stella and Lyndy tour Yorkshire and mingle with royals as husband and wife, they face a sinister mystery that puts their vows to the test. Can the couple work together to discover the truth about their romantic destination and the strange happenings haunting their trip before they’re treated to another terrifying surprise?
Clara McKenna has a B.A. in Biology from Wells College and a M.L.I.S in Library and Information Studies from McGill University. She is the founding member of Sleuths in Time, a cooperative group of historical mystery writers who encourage and promote each other’s work. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.