Tea party Civil War style

EW writer Sarah Harmon in Paris
EW writer Sarah Harmon in Paris


Fredericksburg serves up tea

by Sarah Harmon

Walking down the one way streets of this quaint Virginia town, you would never guess that four major Civil War battles were fought in and around Fredericksburg. You can’t help but imagine the way it was a couple hundred years ago. Up on Charles Street, you can visit the home turned museum of George Washington’s mother, Mary. There, you can see the box where Mary kept her tea locked up to prevent servants from helping themselves on a cold winter’s day.

Fortunately, you don’t need an invitation from Mrs. Washington for a steaming cup of tea in Fredericksburg today. Across the street from the downtown Visitor’s Center is the irresistibly charming Pinkadilly Tea. When you walk through the door, you feel transported to a Victorian era tea parlor, from the crystal chandeliers to the lace placemats. Forgot your hat and concerned about not adhering to proper etiquette? Not to worry! Pinkadilly is prepared with a selection of fabulously adorned chapeaux. After you manage to choose between delicious sounding teas with names like Lady Londonderry and Crime of Passion, you receive a piping hot pot covered in an adorable tea cozy. If you stop in for lunch, a slice of quiche and a tea cup full of soup is the perfect choice. Personally, I can’t resist the scones. They’re served warm so that the Devonshire cream or lemon curd melts right into them.

Tea party in Predericksburg
Tea party in Fredericksburg. Wenxuan Ding with Sarah and Yvonne Harmon

After tea it’s time for a little shopping. If you love searching for the perfect antique, this is the town for you. There’s a store selling Civil War relics and the toys your grandmother might have played with on practically every block. For the animal lover, there are shops devoted to all things feline. All the products in The Cat’s Closet are officially approved by the four resident kitties. To be fair, Fredericksburg also has a store all about dogs a couple of streets away.

Chatham Manor
Chatham Manor

For the history buff, you should make sure to venture across the Rappahannock to Chatham Manor. Built as the home of friends of the Washingtons, it served as a Civil War hospital during the battle of Fredericksburg. The Union assault on the town while being fired upon by the Confederates on Marye’s Heights is eerily reminiscent of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. Notable visitors to the house include George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Walt Whitman, and Robert E. Lee.

Whether you love Colonial or Civil War history, shopping, or just a fancy old-fashioned tea party, when in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area, Fredericksburg is a town that should not be missed.




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