‘Downton Abbey’-themed event planned

BELPRE – To celebrate the return of the popular English television series to American screens, the Unicorn Wine Guild will host a Downton Abbey Tea next week.

“We are doing this because I love ‘Downton Abbey’ and I have inherited a fair amount of Victorian China that we will be using,” said wine guild owner Barbara Whitaker. “It is a very popular show and we want people to be able to have an authentic tea experience and celebrate the new season of ‘Downton Abbey.'”

The traditional English tea service will begin at 4 p.m. Jan. 4 at the winery, 1816 Washington Blvd., and will include foods of the late Victorian through early 1920s era. The menu will have a selection of sandwiches, scones and sweets along with the Queen’s Cake, Whitaker said.

“We are deviating from the era with the Queen’s Cake, which is the favorite afternoon treat of both Prince William and Queen Elizabeth II,” she said. “But it is true to what they would have eaten at the time of ‘Downton Abbey.'”

The menu items are being prepared from cookbooks of the era while the etiquette is being derived from other period books.

“This will be as authentic a tea as possible,” said Whitaker.

To join in the authenticity, participants are encouraged to dress in costume with styles from late Victorian and Edwardian through to the 1920s flapper dress.

“Since the show encompasses those eras and styles, those who come to the tea are welcome to dress in any of these fashions,” Whitaker said.

Along with the tea and foods, there will be show trivia and a small lesson in proper tea etiquette by Whitaker, who is a certified tea educator, having taken classes at the Charleston (S.C.) School of Protocol and Etiquette.

“Anyone who is a ‘Downton Abbey’ fan will appreciate this tea,” Whitaker said.

This is not the first time the Unicorn Wine Guild has hosted a proper English tea service.

“We did an afternoon tea the day Kate and William were married and the people who attended had a grand time, so with so many people that love ‘Downton Abbey’ we thought we would try this special tea event,” Whitaker said.

Cost to attend is $20 per person with reservations accepted through Thursday by calling the winery at 423-1300.

Space is limited, but the guild will do its best to accommodate anyone who would like to join the event.

Season four of the popular English series will begin airing on PBS Jan. 5.

The Downton Abbey Tea is the first of several events the wine guild will host in the coming month, including “An Evening in Paris” wine and food pairing dinner on Jan. 11 as well as a beer making class on Jan. 17 and wine making class on Jan. 18.