Christmas Morning

All is peaceful. I just watched the sun come up here in New England. It is cold outside, but it is as it should be for this time of the year. While I am having my first cup of Earl Gray for the day, I feel it is the perfect time to sit and send my Victorian friends good wishes. I wish you  and your family peace and harmony for the day and the up and coming year.
With much admiration, Lady Estelle

Two African American girls

This photo is amazing. The young girl standing looks like me at the age of 8 and the girl sitting looks like my sister Wilhelmina at the age of 9. Wow,

african american woman, circa1910

I absolutely love the flowers on her waist band.

Happy Holidays!

December is here already. Soon we will be saying "Happy New Years!"
But before that happens, let me wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season.
From my family to yours.
Lady Estelle

A Step Back Into A Dickens Christmas

I know it is to soon to think about Christmas, but it is my favorite time of the year. I go back in time and imagine a true Victorian Christmas. Victorians loved this time to decorate their homes, entertain the family, go for a ride in the buggy to visit the neighbors. Best of all was the carolers at the door.

This Saturday on November 26th, I went to the small town of Pascoeg, Rhode Island, where they brought those moment of Christmas past back to life. It felt like a place right out of a Charles Dickens story.
My friends and I dressed the part and went for a Victorian stroll though the streets.

The shops where all decorated and ready for the visitors to stop by and do their Christmas shopping..

There was even a puppet show going on in the street for the children to see.

My favoirte was the merry Dickens carolers. This really put me in the Christmas spirit.

                                               *Wishing all a happy and health holiday*

History of cooking by African Americans

I attended a wonderful historic exhibit at the Culinary Arts Museum in Providence.

The exhibition tells the story of African American cookery in my state of Rhode Island from the 1700s to the present day. I was so impressed.

There were many  artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and testimonials that gave life to how African Americans cooked and served food as slaves,.as newly freed men and women and who became successful entrepreneurs in the culinary trades                                                                                                                        

Arriving in the ports of Newport and Providence, slaves learned to cook with the leftovers or scraps of their owners’ kitchens. By the 1850s, when slavery was abolished in Rhode Island, they used their skills as cooks and servants to earn a livelihood.

These are the stories that are not told in the history books. I was like a child trying to adsorb all this knowledge in one scoop. I was not able to fully read all the information that this exhibit had to ofter. I will need a return visit.

I meet an inspiring woman by the name of that  thought by the way I was dressed that I was part of the exhibit. I assured her I was not. I  informed her that I was a living history reenactor, but tonight I was just a student of history. She was very helpful in how I could get more information by getting involved with the Rhode Island Historical Society and The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.
We talk for quite some time and I am sure she will be instrumental to my historic growth.

A Mock Funeral at Hearthside

On Saturday, October 29th, the mock funeral of Simon E. Thornton will take place at the historic Hearthside.
The mock funeral will be conducted by a preacher giving an authentic 19th century service. Among those in attendance will be mourners dressed in period mourning attire.
  The coffin will be carried out by pallbearers to the awaiting antique hearse, followed by a grave site service in the yard.  Tours of the house and exhibit will continue until closing at 5:00 p.m.
Reservations for the funeral are suggested.  Admission is $10/person; children under 12 free.  Call 726-0597 to reserve a spot for this unique event!

See gravestone carving this weekend at Hearthside | The Valley Breeze

See gravestone carving this weekend at Hearthside | The Valley Breeze

gravestone carving this weekend at Hearthside

LINCOLN - Master stone-carver Adam Paul Heller will demonstrate his craft of decorative 19th-century gravestone carving at Lincoln's historic Hearthside House, 677 Great Road, on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. The demonstration is part of the "Gone But Not Forgotten: Victorian Funeral and Mourning Customs" exhibit taking place throughout October at Hearthside.
   Hearthside is in mourning with black draping on the front porch, mirrors are covered in black, clocks stopped at the time of death, a wicker coffin and flowers set up in the front room, and exhibits of post-mortem photography, mourning attire and jewelry, antique embalming table and equipment, and funeral decor.
Visitors are given a "favor" of a funeral cookie, wrapped in white paper and sealed with black wax. Docents dressed for mourning will provide guided tours. Admission is $10.
For more information, call 401-726-0597 or visit

A Historic Walk through Providence

I do enjoy taking a morning or afternoon walk through the most historic part of my town. My favorite part is College Hill.

At the bottom of the hill sits this beautiful Church. .
The First Baptist Church in America has been on College Hill in downtown Providence since 1638,
This memorial is to recognize the Black Africans that attend and worshiped in the church in the founding days.

As you go to the top of the hill you can look down a see the center of the city which is Providence. This church and area was founded by Rodger Williams in the 1600's.
Roger Williams purchased this land from two Narragansett Chiefs, and named his settlement Providence in thanks to God.
This park is located at the top of college hill. Roger Williams Park. What a spectacular view!
I spend many quite days taking historic tours in this area.

One of my favorite new found home was the Steven Hopkins's place. It sits right on the side of the hill.

This quaint little colonial house have a well kept garden that is great  for peaceful outdoor reading.

It is charming and enchanting.

Take a walk though my town.

My Favorite Time of the Year,

I find that I love the fall with all it's color and grandeur. "It's time for change!" say's Mother Nature.
The trees get all dressed up and show off it's colors. Then cover the ground to soften your path.It time to really enjoy a cool walk in the park. You can truly dress for the occasion and not be too hot.
I can say that this is my favorite time of the year.
I have many plans for Fall decoration of the tea salon. I have placed at the top of the stair landing this lovely antique baby carriage to welcome my guest.
It has started to cool down here quite a bit there in New England. I have spent many days and evenings sitting out on my front porch reading or just day dreaming as the cool air comforts me to a quick nap.
Such a peaceful season! I wish all my kindred spirited friend a time of good harvest and tranquility.
Lady Estelle

ReOpening the Tea Corner

With the settling in of my new job and deciding not to move, it is time to get back to the redesigning and reopening my Victorian tea Corner. I have more time to spend on it now.
Everything is falling into place. I have changed my parlor into more sitting room for tea. I have removed some furniture and added two small tables for four. I will be looking around yard sales and flea markets for older style wooden chairs. I do not want them to match. I will decorate each one differently. I think that will be fun.
I needed a buffet table for food and tea service, so I used the old antique office deck. It was to large and heavy to remove. It works quite well as a buffet.

I will be able to entertain up to eight for a lovely afternoon of tea.
I planned to reopen the Salon on Saturday afternoon. I have invited some of my friends over for tea to sit and enjoy the beginning process with me.  I hope everyone will be as pleased with it as I am.
The work to the Corner is by far, not done.
I have great plans for the coming Fall.

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Today, the ritual of mourning may be considered ghoulish and morbid, but in Victorian America, death was discussed open and honestly.  After all, it was ever present, with high infant mortality and risk in childbirth, disease and warfare.  Queen Victoria's influence on weddings and funerals had a major impact on the world. While her white wedding dress tradition carries on today, many of the mourning customs slowly died out when she passed away in 1901 so that by the 1920s, most of these rituals had vanished.
"Gone But Not Forgotten" to help promote a better understanding of how our ancestors handled death and mourning.   People were born at home and died at home and were buried most times in a family plot on the property.
But after the Civil War, funeral practices really got started and with it came a whole set of customs.  It is quite a fascinating history and that is why Hearthside will devote the month of October to a special exhibit,  

Gone But Not Forgotten
The popular Victorian epitaph, Gone But Not Forgotten, captures the theme well...while many of today's funeral practices came from the Victorian era, many don't know that or are aware of some of the other practices that are no longer done.

 Black draping will adorn both the outside and inside of Hearthside, covering windows, mirrors and pictures, giving all who pass by the message that this is a house in mourning.

 The occasion will be the funeral of former Hearthside owner, Simon E. Thornton, who died on May 2, 1873.  His body was prepared at the house by the undertaker, who came with his equipment and a portable embalming table. 

The coffin was displayed in the Drawing Room where visitors would come and pay their respects.  Following the ceremony(which in this case will be throughout the month), the coffin would be carried out of the house and into a waiting hearse to bring it to the grave site for burial.
Partner in this event will be Bellows-Falso Funeral Home of Lincoln.  As the oldest operating funeral home in New England, there was a good chance that they had handled Mr. Thornton's service, and sure enough, a review of their records from 1873 shows they did!
Hearthside's event will include a realistic depiction of Simon Thornton's funeral, with a complete set up of coffin, funeral lamps, and embalming table.

The docents will be dressed in mourning attire and all guests will receive the traditional funeral biscuit wrapped in white paper and sealed with black wax as a favor.  Exhibits will include hair and mourning jewelry, post-mortem photography, mourning art, mourning clothing and the stages of mourning, memoriam cards and poetry.

This will make for a very interesting and educational month.
This is the schedule of events.

New Look and plans for my Tea Corner

Every year, after my birthday in June, I make many new changes in my life. Around early July, I had planned to close up my tea Corner to down size , to save much need funds. I began a long agonizing plan to dismantle my place and start getting rid of a lot of my precious things.
After two months, I became very depressed and overwhelm. I was not able to move a thing. I love the salon so much that I became ill just the thought of breaking it down and packing my life in boxes.
After long sleepless nights, I have decided not to make that move.
I will be remodeling and redesigning the Tea Corner. So stay in tune for the  new look of "Lady Estelle's Tea Corner."

Teaching History to our youth!

Being a living history reenactor with a passion for history is not enough. We must teach our little children and the youth to enjoy it now, to appreciate where they are going. You start them at a very early age. Now that we are in a high technology world, we need to show them the past. It will make them well rounded and ready for the future.

I am very fortunate that my young granddaughter has a passion for what I do!
She asked me to tell her what little girls did in the olden days. So I dressed her and took her back in time with me.
 Well. let me tell you.. She is a natural reenactor. I taught her old family values and what was proper for the era. She became a true young Victorian.
She is now, the youngest docent and volunteer to the Hearthside House and requested to walk with us in the 4th of July parade.

  I was a little worried at first because of the heat and the length. But her passion  for what she had learned, she walked one hour an forty five minutes, in the heat and pulling an old fashion wagon fulled with dolls and a Hearthside sign.
She helped us come in second place in the walking division of the parade. What zeal, what passion and dedication. This is what we need from our youth.

Needless to say, how proud of her I am. Here name is Jayniece Jemineze and she is seven years old.

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