What might one expect at an English tea party? Scones, jam, tea, finger sandwiches and, above all else, an English butler in proper morning coat and white gloves, attending to one’s every need.

And that is exactly what attendees will get at the “Downton Abbey” English Garden Afternoon Tea Party at Cottage Row in Oregon City, on Aug. 10. But be warned, the event has proved so popular that all three sittings are almost sold out.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Cheryl Frampton, owner of Big White Goose in Oregon City, relaxes with a cup of tea, as she gets ready for her English tea party on Aug. 10.The idea of the tea came from Cheryl Frampton, the owner of Big White Goose Barn House, one of three shops in Cottage Row on 14th Street in Oregon City; the other two shops are Lavender Hill Cottage and Retro Revival.

Frampton, originally from London, has owned the store since March and started thinking about a way to let customers know she and the other two shop owners are open for business.

“I wanted to find a way of marketing the three cottages and realized we have almost an English garden out back. I love ‘Downton Abbey,’ and thought it would be so lovely to have a traditional tea here,” she said.

She plans to recreate a smaller version of the classic tea menu served at the Ritz Hotel in London, including three kinds of scones, jam, various kinds of tea and, of course, cucumber, watercress and salmon finger sandwiches.

“The wealthy used to hold the sandwiches with three fingers and they only nibbled at the sandwiches. When the working class came along, they held them with four fingers and put their pinky out to emulate the wealthy,” Frampton said.

The menu also will include French-style macarons, petits fours and cupcakes. Wrightberry’s in Oregon City and Sanet’s Bakery in Aurora will cater the event.

Butlers are big hit

As people flocked to sign up for the event, Frampton discovered that “the biggest draw is our butlers,” Jeeves and James.

Jeeves took a few moments off from his butlering duties to explain that he originally is from Essex, England, and will “provide the service expected of an English butler, a person who is there when needed, and invisible when you’re not needed.”

He will be clad in a traditional morning suit, called a cutaway in this country, and noted that Frampton had to order the attire from a Men’s Wearhouse in California, since this kind of outfit is not readily available in Oregon.

Americans love “Downton Abbey,” and it turns out the British love it, too.

“The English are fascinated with ‘Downton Abbey,’ with a secret yearning for how times used to be. There is a longing in each generation that a previous generation had it better than us, and it is a good story,” Jeeves said.

On a side note, he added that the British also are fascinated at the prospect of a new royal baby, and “the current generation of young people are looking to William and Harry to create the royalty of the future.”

Row of shops

Suzan Clough, who runs Lavender Hill Cottage with business partner Tracy Price, said the tea is all about increasing foot traffic on a busy commuter street.

“We have to work extra hard to get people to stop, and we want to remind them that there are lots of reasons to stop” and visit all three businesses, she said.

Frampton already knew the owners of two of the cottages as a customer, when the third shop came up for rent. At first she was hesitant to start a business on her own, but when she went inside the empty shop, she fell in love with it.

“She liked the idea of all three of us together — she is not all on her own,” Clough said.

Frampton moved to the United States in 2004, and had her own marketing business in Florida. She moved to Oregon City four years ago and worked for the Stephens Margolin family law firm until last February, when she quit to open the Big White Goose.

“I always wanted to open a little cottage shop, and I loved the fact that the cottages are quaint and have history,” Frampton said, adding that the three small houses were built in the 1840s.

As for the name Big White Goose, Frampton said her husband came up with it as a character in a children’s book that she was going to write. Although that book is yet to be written, Frampton is an author and has written books aimed at helping women, including her own life story, published in 2003.

She carries a variety of items in her shop, including jewelry, accessories, home decor, and British goods, like salt and pepper shakers shaped like the iconic red English telephone boxes.

But she is best known as the new local supplier of Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan. You can use the paint on any surface, with no priming or sanding. Technically, it is not chalkboard paint, but if you put three coats on something, you can write on it with chalk, Frampton said.

Sense of history

As she prepares for the tea on Aug. 10, Frampton said she could not have done it without the support of her former employers and local Oregon City business owners. In fact, Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley and City Manager David Frasher will attend the event.

She thinks Americans are fascinated by “Downton Abbey,” because this country is so young.

“People are getting more and more interested in history and into their own ancestry. ‘Downton Abbey’ gives them an insight into that part of English life — it gives them a complete sense of culture.”

She added, “I am surprised at the response, about how excited people are to dress up, wear hats and experience a different type of etiquette.”

And lest we forget — there will be butlers.

Tea anyone?

What: “Downton Abbey” English Garden Afternoon Tea Party

Where: Big White Goose, 216 14th St., Oregon City

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10

Cost: $20, call 503-781-6074 for reservations

Attire: Casual or dressy, with hats or fascinators


Cottage Row shops

212-220 14th St., Oregon City

Big White Goose: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, painting workshops by request

Lavender Hill Cottage: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Retro Revival: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

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