In the mid-1880’s, the English adapted the idea of the Dutch tea tavern to private and public garden tea gatherings. Ladies and gentlemen took their tea into gardens and courtyards to enjoy music in the late afternoon sunshine. Beginning in the late 1880’s in England and in America, afternoon tea service was offered in the finer hotels. Certain hotels like the Plaza in New York and the Ritz in Boston became famous for their specialty tea services that catered to the discerning tastes of Victorian ladies and gentlemen. To experience of a Victorian-style summer tea party in your very own sunroom, gather the following items:
- Invitations: typically handwritten on a floral card or postcard.
- Seating: plenty of seating for every guest, with comfy pillows and trimmings.
- Decorations: flowers in vases and petals strewn on tabletops.
- Linens: lace tablecloths, doilies and linen napkins.
- Table setting: mix and match floral china, glassware and silverware.
- Serving dishes: layers of pedestals, cut crystal serving bowls and silver trays.
- Menu: tiny cookies, pastries, fruits and one statement piece like an extravagant cake.
- Beverages: a variety of hot teas or iced tea and sparkling water with fresh lemons.
- Tea service: silver sets, porcelain sets or mix and match floral patterned sets.
- Atmosphere: great conversation, lovely instrumental music and wonderful company.
When you decorate your traditional Victorian garden room for the party, be sure to include:
- Furnishings: painted wicker, iron and glass.
- Plant stands: wicker, metal and hanging baskets.
- Plants: herbs, flowering plants and exotics like orchids and bromeliads.
- Garden statues: stone, marble and cement.
- Bird cages: both ornamental and functional with brightly colored birds.
- Area rugs: jute for outdoor spaces and oriental rugs for indoor spaces.
- Planters: metal or stone urns, painted porcelain containers and terra cotta pots.
Written, styled and photographed by Melinda Graham of Surroundings by Melinda