We are just ONE MONTH away from our authentic Victorian Era British tea and I though it might be nice to chat a little more about our venue!
The American Legion Hall in South Pittsburg, Tennessee was built in the mid 1920s at a cost of $20,000.00. It is a Sears and Roebuck catalog building purchased in Chattanooga and is in the Egyptian style. It was erected to honor the local men and women who served during WWI. Tennessee and Marion County had a large number of men who enlisted during this war and sadly many did not return home. This building pays homage not only to their service but the service all of those who have since come after them.
The first event was held at Post 62 on November 11, 1926. Armistice Day events were then held there annually. In 1940, the local Girl Reserves hosted a mother- daughter tea with over 200 in attendance. A May 23 edition of the local newspaper records the event. “A Russian Tea was served from a beautifully appointed table with lace cloth and artistic arrangement of columbine in the center.”
In 2016, a group of local preservation- minded citizens formed a nonprofit to restore the Hall. The goals of the project were to: 1. preserve the historical integrity of the structure (including the interior) as it was in the 1920s. 2. To provide a gathering place for all veterans (as it was originally intended) and 3. To make the Hall self sustaining through rentals.
And oh what a marvelous job they have done! Not only do the proceeds from this Tea benefit our selected charity- Angel Gowns of the South but also helps contribute to the historic preservation of this gorgeous landmark structure!
Looking forward to seeing you on May 25, 2019 for our 200th birthday celebration! About the event.
So in case you haven’t heard- In honor of Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday (and Maggie May Clothing’s 25th anniversary), we are hosting an authentic Victorian Era Afternoon Tea on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at the beautifully restored American Legion Hall in South Pittsburg, Tennessee! But what exactly is an Afternoon Tea anyway? And what should I wear?
Unlike High Tea, which happens late into the evening hours and includes a hot dish, Afternoon Tea (or Low Tea) is reserved for an intimate gathering of friends with light refreshment including finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Because the length of time between lunch and supper was quite long, an intermittent course of finger foods and tea was served to stave off hunger- thus becoming what we know today as Afternoon Tea! (The term “Low Tea” has nothing to do with reduced luxury- but instead the height of the tables on which it was served!)
A less extensive version of Afternoon Tea is know as Cream Tea which consists of just scones and cream. On special occasions, a final course of champagne was served during Afternoon Tea, thus becoming a Royal Tea service.
Regardless of whether you are attending an Afternoon Tea/Low Tea, a Cream Tea, or a Royal Tea, mode of dress is always semi-formal. Historically, being invited to attend Tea meant one would dress in Sunday best out of respect for the hostess. Long ago, before the emerging informalities ushered in by the post modern world, people “dressed for occasion.” Formality was part of the cultural norm and how one dressed, behaved, and spoke was directly tied to moral character and one’s upbringing. This is still a pervasive theme in America’s Southern culture today.
So this sounds like lots of fun… but what should I wear?
Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819. This is the period we call The Regency Era (or The Georgian Period depending on where you live). This is the time period we often associate with Jane Austen (d.1817). It is known as The Era of Good Feelings. It is the same year Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, Alabama became the 22nd state, and Spain ceded Florida.
The Regency Period is recognized by its long, sleek, Greek and Roman inspired silhouettes. Free-flowing cotton gowns pulled in just below the bust were popular during this period. Simple, straight-forward gowns were offset by elaborate accessories! Short waisted jackets, shawls, bonnets, jewelry, hats, and parasols were all the rage!
Men’s dress consisted of a set of close fitting trousers, shirt, waistcoat (sometimes 2!), cravat, and jacket. Accessories such as tall hats, walking sticks, and boutonnieres were very fashionable.
When Victoria became Queen in 1837, she ushered in a new time period called the Victorian Era. This period lasted until her death in 1901. The clothing of this era consisted of corsets, tightly fitted bodies, full skirts, and (later on) bustles. The use of accessories did not diminish. Shawls, jewelry, and parasols were often used. Gloves became an important accessory during this period and were worn during formal and semi-formal occasions.
Men’s fashions did not change considerably as time progressed and a respectable gentleman never went out without his trousers, shirt, waistcoat, cravat (later on necktie), and jacket. Even working class men wore all these garments. Hats, walking sticks, and umbrellas were typical accessories.
In the modern world, the term “Victorian” has come to be associated with “old fashioned” clothing that has a romantic flair. Long flowing skirts, lots and lots of lace, sheer fabrics, large hats, floral prints, pastel colors, high heeled boots- these are all images that come to mind. This is thanks to the Neo- Victorian revival that happened in the 1980s. This fashion trend has its foundations in the 19th century Victorian period and thus are all perfectly suitable for Queen Victoria’s Tea.
Hats! Hats! Hats!
If there is one garment that is “Oh- So British,” it is the hat! Large hats, small hats, fascinators, tiaras, capotes, outrageous hats! You name it! They wear it! And oh how they wear it with style!
With that being said, we would prefer to avoid Gothic, Lolita, and Steampunk for this event. These are 21st century styles that (while I love) just do not quite fit the atmosphere we would like to create for this particular event!
For your dining pleasure- We are proud to share our menu for Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday Tea!
Food historians note Queen Victoria had a well versed palette and a distinct love for both the sweet and the savory. Mutton, potatoes, and Beef were most commonly seen on her menus as well as a variety of fish and an assortment of breads. Her favorite sweets consisted of sponges, wafers, biscuits (or shortbread cookies), drop cakes, Scottish tablet (a dulche de leche-type fudge), petit fours, pralines, almond sweets, pies, and berry tars (specifically cranberry) with creme. But perhaps my favorite of hers are the Langues de Chat (or Cat Tongues) which is an elongated shortbread dipped in chocolate.
I imagine the royal kitchen was a very busy place! And the royal garden diverse! The Queen advocated for fresh foods and discouraged ingredients out of season. The exception was pineapple- for which the Queen had a passion- and was thus grown year round in the Royal hothouses.
More fun facts and information about Queen Victoria can be found on on our blog. More about our event can be found here.
This year marks Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday and we are celebrating in Royal fashion!
On Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 2:00pm CST, we will turn the historic 1920s era American Legion Hall in the quaint little town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee into a true Victorian Era tea room!
Using Her Majesty’s favorite Afternoon Tea recipes, guests will be invited to taste a little bit of history at this one of a kind, one day only event! (We will be serving Queen Victoria’s original royal tea blend dating back to 1890!)
An event page has been created on Facebook and tickets are available for purchase online either via our mail in registration (save the convenience fees) or through Eventbrite.
Tickets are limited and all proceeds will go to benefit one of our local women and children’s charities. So grab your friends, family, little ones, or neighbor and join us.
Suitable for children ages 5 and up. Gents welcome!
Check back regularly as we will be posting fun little tidbits of Victorian history, menus, tea selection, and a special surprise (Hint… it has to to with the royal wedding!)