Jane Austen, one of England’s foremost novelists, was considered a preeminent literary talent. So it was fitting that the first annual “A Jane Austen Tea,” hosted by The Friends of Chester Library on April 13, celebrated her memory with a fundraiser.
The two-hour inaugural event was held at the Almanor Recreation Center on Meadowbrook Loop, where dozens of supporters attended the luncheon.
Although guests were not asked to wear period attire, organizers encouraged everyone attending to dress up, including wearing vintage hats and gloves to provide an 18th century ambience to the affair.
There were also items decorating the tables that represented an earlier era such as antique shoes, flower arrangements and poems or witty proclamations written by author Jane Austen.
In addition to serving a variety of English teas of course, guests dined on sandwiches and soup prepared by local culinary chef Carol Franchetti of Carol’s Café & Deli, plus an assortment of sumptuous desserts.
Chester Library branch assistant Lori Metcalf played a series of melodies on her piano during the event, covering period music that was listened to by British society during the time of Jane Austen, as well as tracks from films based on her novels.
Local historian and Chester Museum Director Marilyn Quadrio set up a table inside the recreation center, displaying photographs showing Jane Austen’s residences and other memorabilia for guests to peruse at their leisure.
Two door prizes were offered, each a $25 gift certificate toward purchases at Forget Me Not thrift store in downtown Chester, along with several beautifully filled gift baskets for a drawing, with each basket having a theme such as bath and body products, kitchen items, garden accessories, a basket filled with an assortment of teas, and a wine basket valued at $300.
Funds raised at the event go directly to The Friends of Chester Library on behalf of the library for such things as books and supplies, the literacy program, and other needed materials or possible improvements to the library building itself that the county can’t afford to provide funds toward.
“We would like to have another fundraiser” in 2020, Metcalf said, after all the tickets were quickly sold out, adding that they intend to offer more tickets for an expanded event next year.
“The Friends of Chester Library really appreciate the support they received from those in the community who attended,” she said.