The History of The Tea Rooms 1892

Located in Melbourne’s famous Block Arcade, The Tea Rooms 1892 are steeped in history. Opening in 1892, it is home to the oldest tea rooms in Australia.

The site of The Block Arcade is one of Melbourne’s oldest having been purchased in one of Melbourne’s first land sales for 18 pounds by Henry Batman, brother of Melbourne’s founder John Batman.

Originally occupied by Briscoe’s Bulk Grain Stores, the building was later sold to George brothers who transformed the site into George’s Federal Emporium. The four storey structure burnt to the ground on Friday 13th September 1889 in what newspapers described as “The Great Fire of Melbourne”, and resulted in the formation of the MFB – Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Doing the Block ~ S.T.Gill 1818-1819
Collins St “The Block” ~ 1919 State Library Victoria

Having been purchased by the Melbourne’s City Property Company, architectural firm Twentyman and Askew were engaged to build an arcade based on the Galleria Vittorio in Milan. The high quality workmanship of this period is evident throughout the building, from the magnificent etched glass roof with its spectacular dome to the elegant walkways embellished with intricate mosaics imported exclusively from Italy.

Lady Hopetoun

From 1893 until 1907, The Victorian ladies’ Work Association ran a small tea room, previously located under the dome in the Arcade. Frequented by polite society, it was a fashionable spot for ladies to take lunch or afternoon tea in the 1890’s. As the popularity of the rooms began to grow they relocated to their present location where they have remained ever since.

Although the Association disbanded in 1907, they renamed the tearooms after their founder Lady Hopetoun, wife of Victorian Governor and first Governor General of Australia, Lord Hopetoun.

Lady Hopetoun ~ 1889

Today the Block Arcade Tea Rooms 1892, with its quaint atmosphere of old world gentility and refinement, continues the timeless tradition of high tea, cake and sandwiches.

From the emerald green printed wallpaper, the magnificent etched mirror, the chandeliers and the white and gold fine bone china, the decor is much the same as it was back then and we look forward to delighting you in the experience of our nostalgic past.