Peters library sponsoring 'Downton Abbey' tea

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If the popular British period television drama "Downton Abbey" series is your cup of tea, you may want to sign up for a special event offered by the Peters Township Public Library.

The library will hold an afternoon tea at 2 p.m. Jan. 5, scheduled to coincide with the Season 4 premiere that evening of "Downton Abbey" in the United States on WQED-TV. Seating is limited to 40, and advanced registration is required. Cost is $5.

The television series is set in the United Kingdom at the fictional estate of Downton Abbey and tells the stories of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. The series begins in 1912 and depicts how historic events, such as the sinking of the Titanic, affected the lives of the British social hierarchy.

"People are invited to dress as their favorite character in the series or wear a hat and gloves," said Carrie Weaver, library public relations coordinator from Venetia. "I'll be dressed as Lady Carrie, a lady of leisure, inviting people to my castle for tea."

At the tea, lords, ladies and gentlefolk will nibble on scones, finger sandwiches and assorted sweets, while members of the library's cooking club serve tea from Bella's Home of Fine Teas and Gift Shop in Bethel Park.

"I haven't yet decided what teas to bring to the library, but they will include an herbal tea and probably a green tea," shop owner Bella Howard said.

Miss Howard has sold tea at her store for five years and will discuss topics such as tea bags versus loose tea, coffee versus tea, how to make the perfect cup of tea and the benefits of drinking tea.

Participants are asked to bring their own tea cup.

"Styrofoam simply won't do," Mrs. Weaver said. Lace tablecloths and real silverware will be used.

A staffer from Quilters Corner in Finleyville will bring samples of items created with a new line of Downton Abbey fabrics by Andover Fabrics.

"The costume designers for the series do a lot of research, so the patterns are historically accurate but tweaked a bit for a modern audience," owner Mary Beth Hartnett explained.

Tea takers will be given a complimentary fabric tea bag holder, though not from the new Downton Abbey line.

Participants also will be able to take part in a Downton Abbey trivia quiz.

"The event will be a good chance for people to catch up on what the characters have been up to and guess what direction season 4 might take," Mrs. Weaver said.

The library has the first three seasons on DVD in its collection as well as books about the making of the series, the customs of the era and Highclere Castle, where the series is filmed. The series is also available on Netflix.

Season 4 of the Masterpiece Classic "Downton Abbey" will premiere at 9 p.m. Jan. 5 on WQED-TV. The series will air on PBS member stations at 9 p.m. for seven subsequent Sundays. At 8 p.m. Jan. 5, WQED-TV will air "Secrets of Highclere Castle," a behind-the-scenes look at the film location.

Mrs. Weaver came up with the concept of holding a Downton tea as a way of kicking off the cooking club's Fun with Food series for its monthly meetings in 2014. In her research, she discovered that what many people call "high tea" is properly called afternoon tea.

"Afternoon tea is attributed to the Duchess of Bedford, who started the practice in the mid-1800s," she said. "With the introduction of the kerosene lamp, people in wealthier homes began eating dinner later in the evening.

"Because it was customary to eat two meals each day, one in late morning and one increasingly later in the evening, the duchess invited friends over to share snacks and tea to ward off hunger and fatigue."

Registration, details: 724-941-9430.


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