Smuggled tea found in Childwall Hall
'Molls at their Tea' by Hogarth from the Bramah Museum © Burstein collection/Corbis
In the 18th century 3 out of 4 cups of tea were made from smuggled tea.
All social classes wanted to drink tea. It was a very fashionable drink linked with the lifestyle of the upper classes. Fine delicate china tea cups reflected its status and cost. However tea had extremely high rates of duty - often doubling the price. This made it perfect for smugglers.
Tea smuggling took place in all levels of society, even the upper classes on grand estates. 650lbs of smuggled tea was found at Childwall Hall near Liverpool (the home of Bamber Gascoyne).
Childwall Hall, 1780. Image courtesy of Liverpool Record Office.
On 13 June 1765 officers acted on a 'tip off'. The help of the gardener at Childwall Hall, William Redpath, was demanded. He led them directly to the tea in the Summer House. However he was also the local constable, and could have been linked to the tea smuggling. It's unknown whether he was ever tried for his part in the smuggling operation.