British invasion at Elgin Hotel
David Exline’s weekend trip to Marion meant touching base with his family history in more than one way.
Visiting Salina and Marion from Aliso Viejo, California, Exline celebrated the 85th birthday of his father, Bob Exline, at Salina, then came to Marion for high noon tea at the Historic Elgin Hotel, a building his grandmother, longtime Marion County Record columnist Norma Hannaford, fought to save.
Among the 64 who attended the first-ever tea at the Elgin, Exline was the only male. He came to the tea with his mother, Mary Exline of Salina.
“I think I’m the token male, and quite proud,” Exline said. “My grandmother, before she passed, was very instrumental in saving the Elgin.”
Exline has been familiar with the sights of Marion since childhood and has fond memories of the town.
“I did spend many wonderful summer days and Christmas days in Marion as a child,” Exline said.
Tammy Ensey, co-owner of the Elgin, said Saturday was the hotel’s first High Noon Tea event.
“From what I understand, the high noon tea still exists in northern Britain,” Ensey said.
High tea, served with meat, pastries and dessert, is a long-beloved tradition in England dating back to the 17th century when tea became popular and English families, both upper-class and working-class, began enjoying tea. High tea, enjoyed by working-class people, was an after-work meal served at a dining table. Afternoon tea, served as an enjoyable break in the afternoon, was a casual affair enjoyed while seated on low, comfortable chairs.
Ensey and a host of helpers spent Friday preparing the tasty accompaniments to the fine teas to be served.
On the menu were turkey pesto bites, deviled eggs, fruit in hollowed-out pineapples, chicken salad croissants, Hawaiian ham sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches with and without salmon, pear salad with mixed greens and honey vinaigrette, bacon cheddar chive scones, macaroons, biscotti, lemon Napoleons, salted caramels, and cheesecake.
Ensey said she first intended to host high noon tea in January, but decided she needed more prep-time for the event. Each table in the dining room was set in a unique theme for the enjoyment of the guests who came to tea. The Barbara Baxter Trio also performed at the event.