Tuesday, April 29, 2008

English Tea

There was once a time when elegance prevailed, a golden age when ladies went about in exquisite, high fashions topped with stunning picture hats exchanging pleasantries with impeccable Edwardian social graces while gathering for tea each afternoon. It's a time nearly gone now, yet, not quite. For once each year, these past fifteen years, with a flourish that would be the envy of any hostess, Margery Lordi, President of the Friends of the Belleville Public Library and Information Center, hostess extraordinaire, extends a town wide invitation to all to join her at a traditional English Tea. This year's English Tea was still another triumph for Mrs. Lordi, another chapter in a long-standing tradition.

If you have never availed yourself of one of these stylish affairs here in our town, you will have to exercise a bit of creative imagination to get the look-and-feel of it. In the Carnegie Room with its muraled ceiling, on the second floor of our library, the rich, dark wood, marble-topped tables are set with the finest china tea sets from the personal collections of Mrs. Lordi and other members of the 'Friends of the Library'. A piano is playing softly in the background. The setting is exactly that of an Edwardian drawing room. The head table contains an attractive and tempting array of tarts, cookies, cakes, scones and trifles all expertly made by a corp. of volunteers. At each table are trays of sandwiches and, of course, tea pots and tea cozies flanked by fine collectible cream and sugar servers. The highlight of the affair are the ladies themselves turned-out in fine fashion and, yes, the hats. It's a matter of tradition that only the most picturesque hats should be worn to tea, and so they are. This is elegance with a flair.

It is warming to know that such elegance has not entirely vanished from our town. We are ever so grateful, in this era of liberal flippancy, that we have this role model of a more genteel way of being. One can only hope that this tradition, begun early in the 19th century, will continue on for many years to come. A recipe book containing all the treats offered at this year's tea can be purchased at the library for a nominal sum, all proceeds going to the 'Friends of the Library' who support many of the library's activities.

The 'Friends of the Library' would be happy to have you as a member. Annual membership is unexpectedly inexpensive and easy to obtain. A phone call to the library, 973-450-3434, will get you an application, or just stop in at the front desk.