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Set the Scene—Bits of Trivia on Two of My Almost Royal Book Events; Afternoon Tea and the Brea

One of the challenges in putting together a storyline is determining the settings and events where major actions are going to take place in your storyline.  Events keep the mystery storyline moving, exposing new thrills, motives, and clues for those who are doing dastardly deeds. In The Crown for Castlewood Manor, each of the estates competing for the set location for the period drama series, Castlewood Manor, have to host a quintessential British event that will be evaluated as part of the competition. Shipley House is assigned the garden tour and formal tea; Longthorpe Manor is assigned the breakfast hunt; and Cherrywood Hall is assigned the dinner gala. I selected these events because to me, they are represent some of the finest British entertainment traditions—and are frequently used in many period drama and mystery storylines.

I did my research on these events, and even managed to drag my poor hubby to a formal tea or two, to experience the experience 🙂 I’m sure that the garden tour and formal tea is the most popular of the events, and can be found occurring almost daily in real life (I am always seeing pictures and ads of women in glorious hats and dresses, sipping their tea daintily—real life dress-up opportunity).  I wish we took tea in the afternoon in the U.S., it would be a nice tradition to have on a daily basis, very civilized.

The breakfast hunt I know has much controversy because of the fox as prey hunted by dogs issue. No live animals were hunted in my book storylines except for those poor human darlings who met untimely ends by those with a criminal mind. I chose this event because I love horses (there’s still some Kentucky girl left in me), and seeing the riders dressed in their smart riding hats, bright red coats, and those buffed to a shine leather boots makes me smile. I can just imagine myself riding off to the tweeting of the horn in the early morning mist, horses galloping— it seems so regal, at least from a fashionista point of view. I’m so glad the rules for this event were changed to banish the prey of a live animal (I love foxes), there’s nothing regal about that.

Today I thought I’d share some of the more interesting tidbits and facts that were new to me as I researched these two events—I’d love to hear any other bits of info from you, it’s always good to have a new fact or trivia bit available in your little gray cells for the next conversation. 🙂

Garden Tours and Afternoon Tea:

  1. The Queen hosts over 30,000 guests at her garden parties each summer at Buckingham Palace in London, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, serving 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches, and 20,000 slices of cake at each party! (can you imagine the wash-up required after those events?) source

  2. There is a special name when tea leaves unfurl when hot water is poured over them–called the agony of the leaves (I’d probably curse curl too if hot water was poured over me unexpectedly). source

  3. English tea gardens were the first place where men and women were allowed to socialize publically without fear of scandal or criticism (much more civilized than cruising bars don’t you think?) source

  4. The scent of damp tea leaves keeps mosquitos away (a natural pest repellent, who knew?) source

  5. Tasseomnacy–the reading of tea leaves, from ancient China (would you like your fortune told?) source

And for the Breakfast Hunt (vegan/drag hunts are preferred in my books):

  1. Historically, it’s believed the first fox hunt (where a fox was hunted by trained dogs followed by men on horses) occurred in Norfolk, England, in 1534 (too bad its wasn’t the last) source

  2. English foxhounds have their own ‘fashion’ standard—their coats are glossy white, black and tan (even the dogs look good) source

  3. The Hunting Act of 2004 banned hunting with hounds in England and Wales. Before this act, registered hunts killed 21-25K foxes/year (5% of the overall fox mortality in a year). source

  4. There are standards for dress: Hair— modern women, and even men with long hair, should invest in a hair net (if you’re a pre-historic woman you’re OK); Jewelry—studs and modest necklaces are appropriate, no dangling jewelry, for safety purposes (what is a modest necklace?); Buttons—buttons indicates a person’s status on the hunt, the more buttons, the higher the status (Velcro doesn’t count?) source

  5. Sunglasses can be worn but are thought to take away from the classic hunter look. Flasks are OK though (medicinal purposes only I’m sure)… source

I hope you learned a few unknown bits of trivia for today—I tend to go for the more quirky examples. No matter where you go, take the risk and be a bit different. I know there are fashion rules and etiquette protocols to be followed, but I think it’s always good to make your own statement and enjoy. Gemma would approve:)

Crowns and kisses,


P.S. Today’s feature picture has some of my favorite hats, gloves and shoes. The 2 darling tea cups come from my neighbor Nancy’s collection—Best Friends “Coffee, Tea, My Friends & Me” 

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