The Finer Things In Life

Nov. 13th 2013

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On Saturday, November 9th, Belle Grove Plantation hosted the Victorian Ladies Society for an afternoon of tea and tours.

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What a sight they were to see in their finest as they approached the grand mansion!

I could almost see days gone by as ladies during the Turner Family period would have hosted such gatherings.

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Our Afternoon Tea was served in the Formal Dining Room on plates and cups that many of you have seen as we have collected them over the last year or two. Our menu included four flavors of scones. Pumpkin, White Chocolate Raspberry, Apple Cinnamon and Blueberry were served with traditional sides of Lemon Curd, Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserves. Our tea sandwiches were a two layer, opened face Cucumber Sandwich, a two layer Olive and Pecan Spread on Wheat, Chicken Salad in a Puff Pastry and Asparagus with Virginia Ham and Dijon Mustard rolled in a crescent. For our pastries we served a Lavender Shortbread, Chocolate Rugula and a Puff Pastry Shell with Italian Orange Cream. Our tea select was Classic Earl Gray and Youth Berry with Wild Orange Blossom.

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The ladies enjoyed their tea and conversations for the first hour. The second was spent touring the mansion and hearing the history of Belle Grove Plantation from the beginning in 1670 to the present. Our tour ended on the Riverside Balcony where the ladies enjoyed a moment of warmth as the sun shone down over the river.

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Peering out the Turner Master Suite window where the Carrie Turner etching is located

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We are so excited to announce that the Victorian Ladies Society will be returning in April, 2014 for a very special event with Belle Grove Plantation!

The Victorian Ladies Society and Belle Grove Plantation will be hosting our first Titanic Tea!

Be on the watch for the announcement and ticket sales!

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Thank you to the Victorian Ladies for visiting with us at Belle Grove Plantation!

If you are interested in an Private Afternoon Tea at Belle Grove Plantation, please email us at  We are sorry, but we do not serve tea to the general public at this time.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on The Finer Things In Life

Tea Time in Fredericksburg

Jun. 19th 2013

Today, I took a break from the tolls of working on my website (sorry Adam) to have an Afternoon Tea with a dear friend at Pinkadilly Tea House in Fredericksburg. I have been there before and written a blog about it, but the first time we only did lunch. Today it was the whole enchilada… okay the whole pot of tea!

I just love that when you come to the Tea House, your tea cup is always different.

That is one thing I will be doing at our house for our teas!



We filled our tea cups today with Earl Grey Tea, one of my favorites!

Our first course was soup and Quiche.


Crab Soup (which is to die for!) and Ham, Asparagus, White Cheddar and Provolone Cheese Quiche!


Our second course  arrived stacked beautifully before us!


Our Scones with Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream were:


Cinnamon Raisin


Our Tea Sandwiches were:

Feta and Almond Spread on a Toasted Baguette

Spinach and Feta Puff Pastry

Chicken Salad

Cucumber Salad


Our Desserts were:

Chocolate Truffles

Pindadilly Pieshots

Orange Brownies

Blueberry Cheesecake Cups

Each Course was Heavenly!

If you are ever in Fredericksburg, you must call and get a reservation at this wonderful Tea House!

Also be on the look out for a special announcement coming soon!

If you love Afternoon Tea and you are 8 year old or older

You don’t want to miss this announcement!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 25 Comments »

Pinkadilly Tea House

Apr. 8th 2013


After starting out the first week of unemployment with back to back meetings, I finally got a break to relax. So I decided to head to Historic Fredericksburg to do a little antique shopping for the plantation. I was joined by one of our blog and facebook followers for lunch. She choose a Tea Room for us to enjoy. If you are a follower of the blog, you know this was a great spot for me!

Here is a little information on Pinkadilly’s

Pinkadilly Tea began as a dream of owner, Kaye Tippett. After working over 20 years in the mortage industry, Kaye began to feel the rumblings of change. She had been collecting teapots and tea cups for years and would often host tea parties in her home for family and friends. After one such gathering a light bulb went off and suddenly the dream of openings a tea room was born.

On January 2, 2008, Pinkadilly Tea opened its doors for the first time in the Smythe’s Cottage, a local landmark steeped in folklore and history. Well known in Fredericksburg for its connection to the Kenmore Estate and for its rumors of being haunted, the cottage was filled with charm and warmth. Even still, it was very old and after 5 years of wonderful memories the cottage was no longer functioning well for their needs and the bittersweet decision was made to move to their new location at.

Today, they have worked very hard to make sure their new home is just as cozy and inviting as the Smythe’s Cottage.


When I entered, I complete understood why it was called “Pinkadilly”. The room is a warm shade of pink with accents of tea pots, tea cups and crystal chandeliers. I was the first to arrive so I was able to look around and note all the wonderful pots and cups. There is also a “dress up” corner of hats if you chose to enjoy your tea in style!




Once my lunch date arrived, we order a pot of Earl Grey. She also recommended Bacon, Mushroom and Cheddar Quiche and a cup of Maryland Crab Soup. She told me that once I had this soup, I would never love another soup again.



She was right!

The Quiche was light and airy with just the right amount of seasoning. Each bite just melting in your month. And the soup! This creamy dream of a soup has just the right amount of crab as not to be too overbearing. You know some times you order Crab Soup and the crab can make the soup smell and taste a little too fishy. But this soup didn’t have that. If no one had been looking, I would have thrown my good Southern manners and licked the cup to get every last drop! But I made my grandmother proud and refrained from doing so.


After our first course, we were treated to two warm and moist Strawberry and Vanilla Cream Scones. They were topped with a sparkle of Powdered Sugar and had a side of Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream. I ate just the Vanilla Cream with the Devonshire Cream and Lemon Curd. It was just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without stuffing you.


Just as we were about to leave for our shopping, in walks a group of “Red Hat” Ladies for an afternoon tea. In my mind, I could image these ladies back during earlier times, when ladies would visit one another to drink tea and gossip of the social community.

Things haven’t really changed. We may not go to one another’s home as they use to, but the tea houses have become something of a past “Coffee House” where you gather to discussion topics of the day. It’s just a little more gentile now.

When you come to Belle Grove for a visit, you must make a point to stop by Pinkadilly’s to see Kaye! Like us, she stepped out of her comfort zone and chased her dream. If the story doesn’t get you, the Maryland Crab Soup will!

To see more of the day in Fredericksburg

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 20 Comments »

Tea Time!

Mar. 25th 2013

I have asked one of our readers and fellow blogger to guest blog for us today!

Once we open, we will be available for Afternoon Tea Parties for social groups.

So I thought it would be great fun to get some information on teas from an expert. 

Please enjoy!

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

As an institution, the event known as afternoon tea followed on from an ancient Oriental social custom. It came to prominence in the 17th century when it became established as an ‘event’ for the lady of the household.

A lady of wealth and privilege wouldn’t dream of going to an Hotel or coffee house, they being male dominated places where business and politics would be freely discussed and so she would invite her friends for an ‘at home’ of tea, gossip and hopefully scandal.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

It was also an occasion where one could shove one’s wealth and rank firmly up the noses of one’s contemporaries and social equals and conduct the serious business of one-up-man-ship. Amongst ladies of rank and privilege the main criteria for an invitation to tea to be offered or accepted were wealth, property and social standing. Tea at that time was a highly expensive and valuable commodity and therefore the mere invitation to tea was an ostentatious gesture.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Being so precious the tea caddy became an important a fixture. It would be a solid box (or mini-safe) to which only the Hostess, or possibly a very trustworthy housekeeper, held the keys. Its presence said immediately that one was sufficiently ‘well-heeled’ to provide tea in the first place. Nowadays it would be the equivalent of inviting the neighbours over for drinks and then providing them with only the finest French champagne! The number of servants on hand to actually serve the guests was also a major plus factor in the social status stakes!

Queen Victoria by Bassano

Queen Victoria by Bassano

During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901) afternoon tea began to expand into more of a small meal. The growth in industrialisation and the coming of a reliable artificial light meant that working hours could be extended beyond the restrictions imposed by natural daylight. As the gap between lunch and dinner became longer and longer afternoon tea, of necessity increased in variety and content with the addition of finger sandwiches, biscuits, savouries and cake, in order to fill the gap.

An American Tea Clipper at Sea

An American Tea Clipper at Sea

When, as time passed, the supply of tea from distant lands (India, China, Ceylon) increased in quantity due to the development of faster methods of transportation during the course of the Industrial Revolution, tea began to come within the reach of middle class purses and, eager to emulate the landed upper classes, they rapidly adopted the custom.

Gradually, along with the sandwiches and savouries, rich cakes, iced fancies, glazed pastries and sweetmeats from a bygone era were rediscovered and added to the ‘menu’ Afternoon tea became, for the aspirational Hostess to display her abilities in producing an interesting and exotic array of goodies for ‘The Ladies’ as well as the beverage itself.

At this time of course the Master of The House would be out and about with social, business and financial concerns. The rapidly expanding ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ market would provide for him with such niceties when ‘in town on business’ and of course any children would be confined to the nursery or playroom with a nurse or guardian to enjoy their own, more light-hearted tea-time and to keep them out of sight!

It would not be until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when women would become suitably emboldened and emancipated to go ‘out to tea’ at places like the Ritz, Selfidges and Harrods for their socialising but that is for another post.

Kevin Houghton

Granny Robertsons Cookbook

A Social, Cultural and Culinary Archive of Great Britain in the 20th Century

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in General History | 37 Comments »

Well Deserved Reward

Feb. 13th 2013

Brett and I would like to thank all of you that have supported us through this journey.

We would like to also thank everyone for going to our Facebook Fan Page, Liking and Sharing us! 

While we didn’t hit our goal of 1000 Likes (we are up to 914 today), we still want you to know that it really showed the Planning Commission that we mean business. It meant so much to us!

And we want all our “Hurley the Plantation Dog” fans not to worry!

Hurley got his bone tonight!

Brett comes home with a special treat!(Notice all the tea cups lined up waiting to go to Belle Grove!)

Brett comes home with a special treat!
(Notice all the tea cups lined up waiting to go to Belle Grove!)

Hurley Attacks!

Hurley Attacks!



To see more pictures of our sweet Plantation Dog

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Hurley | 30 Comments »