Sunday, October 23, 2011

English High Tea

Fig: A MySpace picture to mark the occasion - Miss Outlier in pearls!

To my delight, a few weeks ago I got an email from a friend of mine, addressed thusly:

High Tea

Her Ladyship, the Duchess of
Woodsworth cordially requests your
presence for afternoon tea.

Sunday, 23 October, 2011
Three o'clock in the afternoon
 Woodsworth Estate,

Sartorial elegance required.

Kindly R.S.V.P. with your title
and availability.
I love it! And pretty soon the responses started rolling in:
Lady Anne's neighbour, the Baroness Wicker of Lower Woodsworth would be delighted to accept Lady Anne's invitation to afternoon tea.  She also inquires, at the risk of indelicacy, if Lady Anne would wish her guests to bring with them some form of refreshment?
Most cordially yours,
Lady Wicker, Baroness of Lower Woodsworth 

Or this one:
Writing at the behest of his Lordship, this is the valet of Brian Marshall, Earl of East Cambridge, Knight Companion of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Clotted Cream. It is his Lordship’s great pleasure to accept below-described invitation and kindly commend her Ladyship’s most exquisite handiwork in designing said invitation. His Lordship inquires after the relative successes and pitfalls of her Ladyship’s search for fresh clotted cream, and extends his apology for ultimately not being able to source any of the most delectable examples himself.
Half the fun of this was just reading these Reply All threads! After some consideration while trying to compose my own reply, I decided that some Googling of English titles was in order. I quickly discovered that I was only dipping my toe in the waters - there is an entire FIELD of "peerage," and the rules and regulations concerning how to properly address each other are intricate and highly important. Social death awaits at every turn.

So I decided to go as a commoner. Fits me, anyway. :)

Miss Outlier finds Lady Wadsworth most gracious in extending this invitation, and thanks Her Grace for allowing an apprentice from the blacksmithery to attend. 
Miss Outlier will bring either refreshments, or a steel name plate for the Woodsworth estate as an exemplar of my work, whichever Her Grace wishes. 
Sincerely Yours,
Miss Outlier

I'm not sure if Lady Anne believed that I could bring a nameplate for her apartment - although I thought it would be kind of fun to waterjet a thin steel sheet with some sort of historically accurate design. I didn't end up getting around to it, but if she has tea again, I will come back to that idea.

As it was, it was an excellent Sunday afternoon of fun and friends. The food, of course, was excellent as well. Cucumber sandwiches! Clotted cream and scones! Hot tea toddies! Oh my, oh my.

I snapped a picture of me in my getup before I left - and in the spirit of the event, all of the other women came wearing dresses as well, and two also wore pearls! Very proper of us.

Fig: Not bad for Miss Outlier, the blacksmith's apprentice.

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