On Saturday 5 April the Friends of Wanstead Parklands held a Jane Austen themed tea party at The Temple in Wanstead Park. It was attended by nearly 40 people, who had been invited to dress up in late 18th and early 19th century attire.
Period music was provided by the Almeria Trio, and a succession of entertainments including short readings from Jane Austen’s works and a mock duel. Later, dancing lessons were laid on. A delicious afternoon tea was served by local chef John O'Grady of 'Consume' Catering.
One reason for the choice of the Jane Austen theme is that the novelist was a distant relative (a fourth cousin) of Catherine Tylney-Long, the unfortunate heiress to the Wanstead estate. Indeed, Jane Austen used the name Catherine Tilney (nee Morland) for her heroine in “Northanger Abbey”.
Richard Arnopp of the Friends commented:
“Thanks mainly to the imagination and organisational skills of Gill James, today's Jane Austen tea was a triumphant success. Although period costume was not compulsory, most of the guests made an effort, with several being in full fig. A couple of ladies made dresses for the occasion, one particularly fine example having started life as a duvet cover!”
He said: “We are grateful to the Corporation of London for providing the wonderful venue for this event”.
The Friends' resident film-maker, Stuart Monro, has made an entertaining video of the event -