Sunday, April 30, 2017

Farewell, Downton Abbey, February 29, 2016

On February 28, 2016, many of us found ourselves drawn to the television screen as we said goodbye to Lord Grantham's family and Downton Abbey.  On Monday, February 29, 54 women joined together for tea to commemorate the moment and to raise money for City Care, a Christ-based organization that works to make life more bearable for the many homeless men, women, and children here in our city.  We were blessed to be able to hold the tea in the home of Mo Anderson, an amazing and incredibly generous woman...WOW...what a woman...what a role model...what a home!

Each guest received a hand delivered invitation.

 Notice that the actual invitation is held in a fabric lace envelope and tucked under a double sided satin ribbon tied around a moirĂ© hatbox.  Each hatbox held an antique fine china cup and saucer, an HRH (His Royal Highness) tea bag, and a beautiful custom made iced cookie in the shape of a fully detailed teapot.  We had a blast putting them together! They were very well received, and the acceptances were amazing!  Only two people declined.  Won't you join us for our tea?  (Warning:  This is a long post and photo intensive.  Just want you to be prepared!)

Our own version of Carson, proper British accent and all, was there to greet our lovely guests at the front door and to oversee the...

  perfectly attired...

never miss a detail...

 always hard working...

well-loved, if never appropriately appreciated...

"downstairs" staff as they attended to the last minute details for our tea.

Now if you are a true "Downton Abbey" detailphile (That's a word, right?  Sure it is.  Francophile, Anglophile, detailphile!), you might remember this dinner plate from the opening credits each week as the newest episode was introduced...the dinner plate that the Granthams supposedly used for many of their numerous elaborate dinners.

Who knew!?  This is my mother-in-love's 1940's wedding china by Castleton, and I just happened to have more than enough to recreate the Downton setting for each guest.  I chose to set each dinner plate on one of an assortment of my blue chargers for further continuity.  Interestingly, Castleton is an American china.  I don't know if Masterpiece Theatre chose the plate in the post production studio or if there is an actual English pattern after which the Castleton was later modeled.  Pretty good question, I think.

The first course was, but of course, an assortment of scones served with lemon curd and jams.  These were served from tiered hostess trays set on each table, then put on assorted sets of luncheon plates already in place at each table.  Here, the Royal Doulton Orient is flanked by my mother-in-love's Reed & Barton Francis I silver flatware.  The charger is Spode Vermichelli.  I used this set-up on two of the eight tables in the living room.

The Waterford Simply Blue goblet is filled with a delicious Pear Lemonade, and the Tiffin Chrysanthemum (my invented name for the pattern) is our water goblet.  The sterling cream and sugar is a part of my Grandmother Madden's tea service.

The lovely young lady who provided the chairs, tables, etc., also provided all these darling yellow and gold tea cups and perfect for a Downton Abbey Tea.  Not to mention, I was thrilled not to need to wrap, pack, and convey 54 cups and saucers from my house, in addition to all the china, crystal, and silver.

Three tables featured the Coalport Exotic Bird luncheon plate.  The charger is Mottahedeh Blue Lace.  The lemonade is served in the Waterford Simply Pink goblet, and water is held by the Lalique Trèves goblet, part of my wedding crystal.

  The tablecloths and chairs came from the same rental company that supplied the cups and saucers.  Mo had used them once before for her daughter's wedding reception in their home.  She knew that they would work perfectly in her beautiful living room.

Two more tables were set with this charming Copeland Spode luncheon plate.  It is not marked with a name.  I found 12 of them  on eBay, and I couldn't resist.  It is one of those patterns that works in so many different situations.  I like it a lot!  The charger is Zrike cobalt. 

Two other tables were assembled using the Schumann Empress Dresden Flowers.  The charger is Steelite cobalt.    Here I chose to use my wedding silver flatware, the Reed & Barton Grande Renaissance.  It's hard to believe that I've been using this silver for almost 49 years!  I'd choose it again. 

Have you taken a look at the floral centerpieces?  The florist, New Leaf Florist, researched to learn how centerpieces during the time period would have looked.  They found the size, the shape, and the assortment of flowers that would have been used.  They were absolutely beautiful.

Several of our guests arrived a bit early to take a peek at the tables.

In addition to the 8 tables in the living room, the dining room table was used to seat an additional 6 guests.  As with the other tables, an authentic Downton Abbey tea towel was draped over each chair as a party favor for each attendee.

I hope that you are soaking up all the details in this dining room.  It is absolutely magnificent!

The amazing tablecloth was custom made for this table.  It is a beautiful piece.  Here I chose the Coalport Exotic Bird luncheon plate with the pink rim and the Anna Weatherly scalloped blue charger.  The setting is accented by the AJKA King Louis XIV cobalt goblet and the Tiffin Chrysanthemum goblet.  

 After the plates for the first course were removed, the second course of tea sandwiches and Blue Corn Blinis with avocado cream sauce were served plated from the kitchen on the Coalport Sevres Group luncheon plate.  By the time the plates were presented with the second course for all the tables, I was no longer taking photos.  I was acting as a table hostess.  This photo is from my archives.  The desserts were served on the Castleton dinner plates.

The floral centerpiece for the dining room was presented in Mo's amazing silver epergne.  Wow.  Just.  Wow.

It was a delightful way to spend an afternoon, and...

...we were blessed to raise more than $50,000.00 for the work carried out by City Care.  God was definitely in the details on this day, in this place.  Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

This week I'm joining:

Entertaining Women
Entertaining Women

Hello, I'm Cherry Kay I was 40 before I realized that I am an artist. I love to paint, work in clay, rubber stamping, design tablescapes, entertain, and share ideas. I'm an interior designer credentials, but lots of experience.


  1. How beautiful. The tables, the colorful flowers, your place settings (beautiful)---and the amazing philanthropy. Thank you for the lovely post.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful event that raised over $50,000.00, Cherry Kay! I was oohing and ahhing at all the tables, dishes, and detailed centerpieces. I know you were thrilled to be a part of all the good that resulted from it.
    Thank you for finding me and for your sweet visit.

  3. Now that would be such a fun event to attend! I would have loved to sit at one of those beautiful tables for a spot 'o tea. Fantastic job with wonderful results!

  4. Just Exquisite! I enjoyed your photos very much. Not many entertain on this scale any more, even for a benefit. Your tables echo a much more graceful time and appreciation for beautiful things. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi CK,

    I never watched this series. It seems you nailed it, though - just the right touch of delicateness (a word?) without letting the tables get too fussy. Congrats on the fundraiser.


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