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Robert Burns

Tea caddy from the Burns' household

18th Century

This tea caddy was a wedding gift to Jean Armour Burns from her brother James Armour.  Jean and Robert Burns first met at Mauchline in 1784, after his family had settled at Mossgiel, near to the town.  The actual date of their marrige is not known.


Jean Armour continued to live in the family home in Burns Street, Dumfries, following the poet's death in 1796.  She remained there for the rest of her life and by the time of her own death in 1834, the house had become a place of pilgrimage.  Relics of Robert Burns, Jean Armour Burns and their household were treasured and preserved.


Tea was expensive and people wanted somewhere to keep the precious leaves fresh and safe. The word caddy comes from the Malay "kati" a measure of weight of about 600g.


Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, began the practise of afternoon tea.  In the early 1800s she launched the idea of having tea in the late afternoon to bridge the gap between luncheon and dinner, which in fashionable circles might not be served until 8 o'clock at night. This custom evolved into high tea among the working classes, where this late afternoon repast became the main meal of the day.

height 130mm, width 178mm, depth 129mm
Robert Burns House, Dumfries
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Dumfries & Galloway Council