A Downton Abbey afternoon tea invites guests to stop and smell the roses.
We invite you to come and enjoy a fashionable afternoon with dainty treats and tempting teas as we pay tribute to a traditional Downton Abbey afternoon tea, and all the customs and formalities that go along with it. Our afternoon tea takes place in the enchanting Daniel Webster estate in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Built in 1880, the house has all the charm and elegance of the fictional Yorkshire country estate from the period drama “Downton Abbey.”
For aristocrats in the Edwardian era, women attended estate dinners wearing extravagant gowns, silk gloves and hats, while the gentlemen were fashionably attired in tuxedos. Each meal carried its own dress code, and in some instances, women would change several times a day depending on the occasion. In those days, a woman often had a maid to help her dress. To assist in the beauty of the female figure, women relied on tight-laced corsets to create an hourglass shape. Ladies of high society dressed for an afternoon tea in fanciful tea gowns and floral bonnets embellished with pastel ribbons and roses that emulated the shades of a summer bouquet. All across Europe, roses were a constant theme in tearoom decorating, accoutrements and fabrics; trellises of roses even helped transport an English garden indoors.
Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Time
A typical afternoon tea began after the lunch dishes were cleared by the servants and the lady of the house summoned her maid to join her upstairs to change into her tea gown. Meanwhile, downstairs in the kitchen, the cooks prepare scones, biscuits, small sandwiches and teacakes. The family and their guests took tea in the drawing room at 5:00 p.m. In Britain, the drink of choice is black tea taken with milk and sugar. To keep up with social status, the food served was designed to impress the guests. The presence of an overly accessorized table with fancy French patisseries, delectable cakes, puddings and fine chocolates would surely coax a smile from cousin Violet herself.
In the spirit of a Downton Abbey afternoon tea, let us be reminded of this bygone era, where time slipped by slowly and days were spent leisurely sipping tea and enjoying the company of family and friends. The art of taking tea draws on traditions both old and new and encourages us to take time from our hectic schedules to stop and savor the perfect cup of tea. As cousin Violet would say, “It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.”
Written and photographed by Jo-Anne Coletti, vintagerosecollection.com
Styled by Muriel Toucey