Church-&-GV-Tea-008By Mary Fox

The Evergreen Bed and Breakfast in Great Valley is the perfect place to hold a Victorian Tea Party and that is exactly what Gail Archer did last Sunday, April 20.

“I’m so excited,” she exclaimed, as the ladies arrived and her husband took pictures of everyone. “This is my first tea party.”

Twelve ladies dressed in elegant Victorian fashions were treated by Gail to a tea party right out of Victorian days. Gail shared her extensive collection of Victorian memorabilia including a turn-of-the-century wedding dress complete with shoes and handbag. A child’s doll buggy displayed beautiful Victorian linens.

The theme of roses graced the table with tiny silk rosebuds and napkin rings of silk roses along with a selection of teas.

The origin of afternoon tea goes back to Queen Victoria, who, becoming hungry between lunch and the very late dinners fashionable at that time, asked to have something light that would see her through the late afternoon. And so began the tradition of afternoon tea or in more posh settings, high tea.

There is a certain ritual associated with afternoon tea, although many different forms have become popular. The food usually consists of a variety of little sandwiches, scones and sweets prepared in small-bite size pieces so you can use fingers to eat them. Teatime became the highpoint of the afternoon when families gathered and friends were invited to share the latest gossip.

After tea, the guests were treated to a tour of the Evergreen.

“It was once a busy tea room, but because of state regulation, we can no longer serve food,” said Judy Zariczny, who with her husband Robert own and run the Evergreen Bed and Breakfast.  Catered private parties are, however, allowed. Food for the tea was catered by Katy Herbach of Katy’s Café, who served and kept the teacups brimming.

The Evergreen Bed and Breakfast at the intersection of Routes 219 and 98 in Great Valley is a pre-Victorian house built in the late 1830s. It has been, over the past century and a half, a stagecoach stop, a restaurant, a tearoom, a hotel and presently a bed & breakfast. Artifacts of its past lives can be seen throughout the house.

Judy and Robert purchased the house in 2008 and spent two years restoring it to the elegant but cozy ambiance of another time. Three large bedrooms upstairs are old-time spacious with amenities grandma never had, such as extra-wide, cushiony beds and TVs, but they still capture the essence of a childhood visit to grandma’s house.

Judy’s guests left with a very special memory of a beautiful day with friends.

“I hope everyone had a good time,” said Judy. “It was so much fun for me.”

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