Tea time at a hidden gem in New Ipswich

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Silver Scone Tea Parties in New Ipswich has a backdrop of a sprawling garden, historic Greek revival home, and a collection of 200 bone china tea cups collected by proprietor Jane Elwell. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/23/2021 4:57:34 PM

In the middle of New Ipswich, there sits a slice of the English countryside.

The lovely gardens around the historic Millbrick House are bursting with summer blooms, and inside, ladies and gentlemen, dressed in their tea-time best pass a basket of various tea choices to select for their tea pots. On serving trays in the center of their tables, scones and pastries sit daintily, and fresh clotted cream to go with them.

Jane Elwell of New Ipswich said seeing the rooms of her historic home filled with people enjoying a high tea has grown from a hobby, to a business – Silver Scone Tea Parties.

Elwell, originally from England, has always loved tea parties. The product of an all-girls school, where she was taught deportment and fell in love with the art of the tea party, as an adult, Elwell began collecting bone china and putting on high teas for friends. Sometimes, she said, she would throw the occasional party as a fundraiser.

“It’s my history. It’s a way I can bring a little bit of my culture and the way I grew up over to America with me. I think it’s a wonderful tradition to have. You get to dress up a little bit and enjoy the company of our friends,” Elwell said.

That mid-afternoon tea tradition isn’t one that’s common in America, and something she missed, Elwell said.

“People don’t tend to stop in the mid-afternoon. But I think it’s good to have that time for friends, snacks and tea,” Elwell said.

Demand became so high, Elwell said, eventually she decided to make a proper go of running an event business, hosting tea parties several times a month in her historic home for anyone to attend, as well as private events for birthdays and anniversaries and bridal and baby showers.

She said she had only just begun the venture in earnest when COVID-19 shut her down. Elwell adapted, putting together “to-go” tea party sets for people to purchase to hold their own teas at home. But with the lifting of restrictions and increasing vaccinations, she reopened her home last month to re-start in-person high teas once again.

Several people who attended her first summer tea said it was the first gathering they’ve been to since the start of COVID-19.

Dressed elegantly in sundresses and pinned hats, several ladies said they were attracted to the very concept of an “adult” tea party.

“How often do we get to play?” asked Heather Schoff of Greenville. “It’s not fair that the kids get all the fun.”

“It’s fun,” agreed Daniel Ziarnik-Case of New Ipswich, who was attending in a hand-sewn outfit. “It’s not the normal thing, but that’s what makes it fun.”

Jenny Mason of Greenville said she loves all things old-fashioned, and she and her husband often joke she should have been born in a different era.

Elwell leans into that desire to be transported to a different place and time. While her first tea party of 2021 had a simple “Summer tea” feel, with no real theme, she in the past has gone all out with Marie Antoinette or Downton Abbey, and “Bohemia” themed events.

“I like the challenge of being creative, and the crazier the challenge, the more I like it,” Elwell said.

And her home provides the perfect setting for it. The 1830 Greek Revival brick house was built by Charles Barrett Junior – the original owner of the historic Barrett mansion on Main Street – for his son, Charles Barrett III and his new wife Abigail. 

Elwell has spent the last six years restoring the back garden to create a lovely backdrop for outdoor teas, and multiple rooms are reserved for tea rooms indoors.

“It’s a hidden gem,” said Jen Kone of Greenville, who attended the first tea of the year. “It’s right out of a picture book.”

“I didn’t even know this was here, and I never would have if it weren’t for this,” agreed Mason.

“It’s a tiny slice of the English countryside, right in New Ipswich. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next,” said Schoff.

If you are interested in booking a private tea party, contact Elwell at silversconetea@gmail.com or through the Silver Scone Tea Party Facebook page. Silver Scone Tea Parties holds regular weekend teas which are open to any interested parties but do require a reservation. For future tea party events, held twice monthly on 99 River Road in New Ipswich, watch for events on the Silver Scone Teas Facebook page.


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