We had made reservations for Blithewold's Christmas tea some weeks ago, and, since December 9 was the date, we couldn't let the rainy, windy deluge stand in our way. Dor picked me up in Providence and about 30 minutes later we were pulling into the parking lot at Blithewold, an English country manor style home on the waterfront in Bristol.
You can read more about the history of the place here: http://www.blithewold.org/blithewold-history
Steve and I had visited Blithewold once before during the summer months and enjoyed touring the mansion and the grounds. However, the place takes on an entirely different aura when it is decorated for the holidays. And decorated it was! What a sumptuous, lavish feast for the eyes!
I'll share just a few examples of what we saw, since, if I included every photo of every room, it would be simply overwhelming. The entrance hall was inhabited by a two story high tree - here is the view of the treetop from the second level balcony.
We were directed into the main dining room for our tea experience.
All of the rooms in the mansion were decorated with a different holiday theme, the dining room's being "A New Year's Eve Party". All was white, bright and glowing - we could just imagine spending New Year's Eve in this festive setting.
Mounted on the windows at either end of the dining room were clocks whose hands were poised at 5 minutes to midnight, as though everyone was waiting to shout "Happy New Year"!
|tables set for afternoon tea|
We had a view out to the water, but, sadly, it was foggy and rainy and there was not much of a view to be had.
Soon the servers were bringing Yorkshire/Earl Grey tea and warm scones to each table. We weren't given a menu, so we rendered a guess as to the scone's flavor - I thought it perhaps a pumpkin or ginger-spice raisin (?cranberry) version, but it wasn't totally clear. It did have a delightful texture and nice crumb.
The tea cozy was a nice touch, something we felt was missing at our other tea experiences earlier this fall.
We had two sandwich offerings - one the classic cucumber cream cheese on white bread and the other a cheese/red pepper jelly on wheat bread. Both breads were moist and flavorful, however the cheese on the red pepper sandwich was very thin and hard, almost as though it had been sliced from the end of the rind.
|the sweets portion|
We sat, sipped tea, relaxed and chatted until it was time to vacate the dining room and allow the staff to prepare for the 3 pm tea seating, the second of the afternoon. So up and away we went.
We strolled past all of the themed, decorated rooms in the mansion - all so well done, absolutely stunning and a delight to behold!
|the mantel in the living room, themed "An Engagement Party"|
|a tree in the living room|
The afternoon teas are offered Tuesday through Friday at 1 and 3 pm and continue on through the New Year weekend (reservations required), so, if you're looking for a fun, festive holiday outing, head over to Bristol and Blithewold mansion!