Midsummer tea parties with a twist this June

27 May 2011

We are hosting Midsummer Tea Parties from 17-20 June with the aim of raising tens of thousands of pounds, which will go towards the upkeep of individual churches as well as our conservation and regeneration projects. 

As well as helping to raise funds the Tea Parties provide a chance for families to visit amazing ancient buildings across the country to discover more about their history – and their future.

A feast for the spires: entry to Tea Party events is FREE but visitors are asked to donate for a cup of tea and cake while they are there. Each event will centre around a traditional summer tea party and will be unique to the community that created it.

Our Chairman, Loyd Grossman  said: “We want the nation to take part in a bake-off with a difference. These quintessentially English events are a great day out for the whole family and a fantastic way to discover local history. But they are also a chance to see how these ancient buildings can be a fantastic resource for all  – from rehearsal spaces for bands and venues for film screenings to peaceful places for quiet contemplation. We want these historic buildings to continue to be here for everyone to enjoy.”

Our Chief Executive, Crispin Truman said: “As well as being hugely enjoyable, the Midsummer Tea Parties are vital fundraising events. On average it costs £12,000 each year to maintain a historic church and approximately £250,000 to repair, conserve and modernise a new building vested to the Trust. These events will help us to continue to protect these historic churches for the nation and enable people to use them today.”

Some highlights of Tea Parties taking place are: 

St Mary’s Church, Lead (North Yorkshire)Set near Towton, site of the bloodiest battle of the War of the Roses in 1461, the water of Cock Beck, which runs by St Mary’s is said to have run red with the blood of the ten thousand men who were killed there, Now a haven of peace this 14th century church will be hosting a tea party on 19 June.

Holy Trinity Church, York (Yorkshire) - Visitors to this hidden treasure on 18 June will find a fabulous selection of vegetarian cakes on offer, donated by the Goji Vegetarian Café. Tucked away through an 18th century arch behind Goodramgate – one of York’s busiest shopping streets – Holy Trinity is known as the resting place of Hannah Beedham, known as the Prophetess of Kelfield. Beedham gained notoriety when she predicted the precise place and time of her death, sparking national interest. She became even more famous when she failed to meet her maker at the allotted hour.

St Peter’s Church, Preston Park, (East Sussex) – on 19 June tea will be taken to a backdrop of blood and gore at this 800 year-old church which stands in the landscaped park of Preston Manor – the interior features a wall painting depicting the violent murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury, which shows William de Tracy plunge his sword into Becket's head and blood dripping from the hand of Becket’'s chaplain.

St George’s Church, Esher (Surrey)the designer of the huge family pew at this Tudor church is none other than Sir John Vanbrugh. As a theatrical figure he would probably approve of the music and art events taking place alongside the Midsummer Tea Party at this church, which is just on the outskirts of London.

St Peter’s Church, Wolfhamcote (Warwickshire) - This remote Medieval church sprawls across its rough-tufted churchyard, the sole survivor of the lost village of Wolfhamcote, decimated by the plague and now lying buried to the north. On 25 June the stout buttresses and crooked windows will form a backdrop to an afternoon of tea, cake and folk dancing.

Church of St Thomas a Becket, Pensford (Somerset) – with the interior closed to the public, the the Midsummer Tea Party at St Thomas a Becket on 19 June includes a rare chance to take tour of the 14th century tower.

All Saints Church, Vange (Essex) – On 18 June this normally serene hilltop medieval church will play host to both a hat show and a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Hat wearing for attendees is fully encouraged. (12-4pm)

St George’s Church, Orcheston (Wiltshire) – learn how to make soap and perfume as well as cakes at St George’s on 18 June, where local artists, a cake maker and a soap and perfume maker will be hand with displays for the Midsummer Tea Party (2-4pm).

Find out about tea parties in your area here.