Texts and Photographs by Bruce Richardson
Maids of Honour tarts have been a part of tea lore for nearly 300 years. Although there are numerous legends about their origin, it is generally believed that Henry VIII was the first to use the name after he saw Ann Boleyn and other “maids of honour” eating these tarts from silver dishes. The oft-told story recounts that the king was so delighted with the delicious desserts that he kept the secret recipe locked in an iron box in nearby Richmond Palace. By the early 18th century, the recipe had been disclosed to a bakery in Richmond, and the royal delicacies became a feature of fashionable Richmond society.
The first Maids of Honour shop opened in the early 18th century on the corner of Hill Street in Richmond, just down the road from the present site.