The day was hot yet breezy, with the sun and clouds battling for possession of the sky. It seemed the perfect day for a late-afternoon tea on the porch of an old historical landmark in Pennsylvania. The theme for the day was the history of the railroad. The place was Pennypacker Mills in the heart of Schwenksville, the former home of the 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania, Samuel W. Pennypacker.
The event started at 4pm, but I arrived early to get some initial photos of the house from a distance. My mother and I were greeted by Gail, a lovely woman dressed in Victorian costume, who then asked us to wait until the servants came to escort all of the guests back to the house. As we stood there, more and more guests arrived, some even showing up in steampunk style.
Finally, the moment arrived. We were led to the front porch of the mansion, where one of the costumed servants led us to our table. Once seated, we were immediately offered water flavored with fresh lemon slices. Occasionally, a breeze would blow along the porch, lifting the tablecloths and giving a brief respite from the humidity in the air. After a few moments, everyone was seated, and they started serving us tea, a strong Russian Gold, which was perfect even in the heat of the day.
Then came the sandwiches: three delightful small morsels. We had ham and smoked gouda on a croissant, cucumber dill on pumpernickel and roast beef with carmelized onions & blue cheese on herbed focaccia.
While we were enjoying those, three small dishes were placed on the table. The first filled with creme fraiche, the second, honey butter and the third, lemon curd, my favorite. Then followed fresh scones, one traditional creme, and the other golden raisin citrus. Both were deliciously moist, and even more decadent once one of the toppings was applied.
Next up? The entertainment for the afternoon. A comical musician named Matthew Dodd, who delighted us all with tales of the railroad. His humorous songs had us chuckling for about an hour, and we learned a little history about railroading in the USA.
Once Mr. Dodd wrapped up his performance, dessert made its appearance. And what a spread it was. Six small two-bite pastries, each a delight to the palate. The fabulous three-hour event was now coming to a close. Many guests wrapped up a few of their desserts to take home, and everyone slowly meandered back up the pathway to the parking lot. It was a fun and delicious Victorian tea experience.
Pennypacker Mills, located in Montgomery County, PA, is open year-round for mansion tours, as well as special events. Visit their site to see the event calendar, which includes another Victorian tea in September, this one focusing on fashions of the early 1900s!
A huge thank you goes out to The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College, for providing the amazing food. Also to the Pennypacker Mills Living Historians and all those behind the scenes, for the fantastic day of tea and entertainment they provided. I will definitely be attending more events at this stunning, historic mansion.