Bukhorn Inn, a bed and breakfast in Gatlinburg which provides fine accommodations and dinner by reservation only, hosted an afternoon tea today, featuring a speech by Dr. David Woodfine, the retired High Steward to Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, and former butler and host to royals and celebrities.
Dr. Woodfine told us stories of attending to Princess Margaret, Lady Diana, Prince Charles and others. He was funny, warm, and very gracious. He is on a US tour with Dr. Mark Hilliard of Hilliard Institute. One of the divisions of Hilliard Institute is their press, the organization that publishes Dr. Woodfine’s books. All proceeds from his books go to Ethiopian well construction, by the way.
We had tea, of course, and the kids managed to sit more or less still and quiet for 95% of his talk. Buckhorn Inn served cucumber sandwiches, lemon bars, and scones with jam and clotted cream. It was a lovely afternoon in a peaceful, elegant setting, listening to stories about English royalty and their high manners.
Dr. Woodfine even had a story that related to Downton Abbey. Charles Blake, of course, is the dashing character who threw mud at Lady Mary in the pigsty. He is played by Julian Ovenden. Julian’s father is a personal chaplain to the Queen. His name is John Ovenden. And he had lunch at Dr. Woodfine’s house six weeks ago.
We sat down and talked with Dr. Woodfine after his speech. We also purchased his books: From Kitchen to High Table, a cookery book, to use the British term; Join Me for Afternoon Tea, a lovely book which explains how to make a meaningful occasion extra special; and ABCs of Etiquette for Young People – a book on manners for children. All three links are affiliate links.
We happened to walk in at the same time as two ladies and a teenage girl. We all sat at the same table. As we introduced ourselves, we found out they were sisters from Maryville and – surprise, surprise – they, too, homeschool. We also discovered that we belong to the same support group, Blount Home Education Association, but that we don’t have the time to join them for all the activities and field trips. Nobody does.
Before we went there, I told the kids we were going to have tea at Buckhorn Inn. They were excited, as we pass by it many times and try to spot their swan on their pond, which can be seen from Buckhorn Road. Then, I showed them England on the map and explained that country does not have a president. They have a queen instead and her son will take over one day and be king. We talked more about it, as I brought up Prince George being fourth in line and having a little sister now. They kids went, “Awww!…”
My biggest takeaway was service. Here’s a man who served others for 50 years and loved every minute of it. I came back home and read through his cookbook while the children played. Then, I went into my kitchen and made his simple scone recipe. We enjoyed them for supper along some fruit and tea. Now, we are reading the books and learning about manners. I am sure I can record this as Home Ec or Proper Socialization or Geography or History. Better yet, it is a unit study on English Afternoon Tea. How lovely is that!