A spot of tea with Jane Austen

JULY 3–4: | Centennial Belles are serving up high tea at the Rollin Art Centre.

Camie Sogge models a thrift store purchase she made that did not have to be altered.

Jane Austen died in 1817, but her Georgian era novels like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are still popular more than 200 years later.

The fascination extends to blockbuster movies of her novels, and a burgeoning Jane Austen movement that Tricia Knight and the Centennial Belles are making popular here in the Alberni Valley.

The Belles are hosting two Jane Austen teas this weekend: Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4 from 1–3 p.m. each day at the Rollin Art Centre.

“These festivals are all over the world. People do travel the world to go to them. She was an author of her time,” says Knight.

Six of Austen’s books—which were popular for their social commentary of the day—have been made into modern movies. Victoria and Duncan have both hosted successful Jane Austen festivals, and Knight said the teas are a prelude to Port Alberni’s inaugural festival being planned for 2016.

Tea, sandwiches, savories and dessert will be served, there will be demonstrations of English country dancing and a fashion show of regency costumes. Also a draw for people who show up in their own regency wear.

Costumes are as easy to make as taking a trip to a local thrift shop, says Knight. “You basically need a full-length, empire waist gown with short or long sleeves or elbow-length sleeves. It cannot be sleeveless,” she said. “Just a bonnet or a turban on your head, or a ribbon in your hair” for adornment.

Men wishing to dress to accompany their partners can pair a vest and high-necked white collared shirt, and add a crevatte (an old-fashioned tie).

Tickets are $10 for kids, $15 for adults and available at the Rollin Art Centre.

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