A splendid afternoon of tea and history at Johnstown Castle
On Sunday last I had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea at the beautifully regale Johnstown Castle. Welcomed on arrival by a most stately doorman in red tail jacket and black top hat complete with cane, we were immediately ushered into the dining hall where we were greeted and shown to our table for two by the window by the lovely Anne Wheeler.
Anne, the perfect hostess, originally from Liverpool with a background in heritage and culture, has been working at Johnstown with her husband Matt for many years, firstly as a volunteer and now in a more formal capacity.
Anne's love of the castle is obvious and she is delighted that her afternoon tea event is developing into a major attraction. Although only its second run, both occasions were completely booked out with long waiting list. While Anne is thrilled that restoration work is due to commence at the castle in September she regrets that the timing may not allow the hosting of another afternoon tea in October.
After a delicious repas of Earl Grey Tea, delicate sandwiches, delectable pastries, moist fruit cake and dainty scones with lashings of luscious cream and mouthwatering raspberry jam served by our lovely maid in Downtown Abbey outfit, it was off to the library to hear some of the history of the castle.
At the library we were joined by husband and wife team Peter and Hazel Millar who enthused about the castle and all things Johnstown. Peter who is a member of the Board of Directors is an absolute font of information about the castle and its owners - the Esmondes and the Grogans and also about the Agricultural Museum attached to the castle, the seed laboratories on its upper floors and the major restoration about to be undertaken by the Heritage Trust.
Both Hazel and Peter are enthused by the project and look forward to what will be achieved over the next few years. Once again their love of the castle and their passion for its history is blatantly obvious as they recount stories about secret doors, underground tunnels, 19 Apostles and future plans.
At only €20 per head this is a wonderful experience in a beautiful space and my compliments to all involved from doorman, to maid, to Anne, Hazel and Peter who make it special for all.