The St. James Market: A Timeless Experience
Guests have come to expect a transportive experience when they join us for afternoon tea, whether it is their first or fiftieth visit. What some people don’t expect is for their experience to begin the moment they step over the threshold into The St. James Market. Guests enjoy browsing through the rooms of the Market in the moments leading up to the iconic sounding of the ship’s bell that signals their two-hour teatime has begun. The St. James Market is, as one of our guests describes it, a place that exists outside of time. “The thing that resonates with me the most is its timelessness,” says Lynn, a fiction writer who recently enjoyed her first teatime at the Tearoom after just stopping to shop at the Market on several previous occasions. “I love the tea mixes you have and all the wonderful items in the shop.”
As a writer, Lynn was interested in the process used to capture her words on paper, believing this should be as creative as the writing itself. She explored numerous methods, including a computer, typewriter, and portable word processor until she finally decided that hand writing on paper was the perfect way to express her own unique creativity. “To add to the old-fashionedness of my approach to writing, I love using a dip pen,” Lynn says. “People look at me weird when I tell them I like to use dip pens. I don’t know—maybe it’s because I love the act of dipping my pen into the ink bottle and then putting pen to paper like a paintbrush. Maybe it’s because I love that I get ink stains on my fingers. Maybe it’s because I love buying bottles of different colors of ink. Maybe it’s all of the above. Writing with a dip pen brings a heightened experience to the act of writing that allows me to connect with my stories more. I feel more creative, more imaginative.”
It was no surprise that Lynn enjoyed browsing the variety of pens available for purchase in the Market, but it was one in particular that caught her eye. “Imagine my unfettered delight when I saw a beautiful glass dip pen (with an interchangeable metal nib) in The St. James Market. I didn’t hesitate to buy it; now I use it for all of my stories.” While some might find writing in this way old-fashioned, others, like Lynn, find it enhances their creative process. “If using a dip pen was good enough for C.S. Lewis, it’s good enough for me!”
It is no surprise with Lynn’s love of literature that the very first teatime she experienced at The St. James Tearoom was one of our Literary League special events. According to Lynn, “It was one of the best experiences of my life.” Although Lynn thought that she didn’t like tea, she realized after being gifted loose leaf tea from her sister that it was nothing like the generic tea bags that she had experienced all through her childhood. “I thought, ‘Oh, now I get why people like tea!’”
Lynn has since expanded her tastes to a variety of loose leaf teas, but “it wasn’t until I went to the Literary League event at St. James that I had an actual sit-down tea experience with its savories, breads, and sweets. That experience really heightened my enjoyment of tea and introduced me properly to what tea can actually bring to my life.” During this event, Lynn enjoyed relishing in her love of literature while enjoying the full two-hour teatime.
“The Tearoom is two hours of pure goodness,” Lynn says. “You just can’t feel stressed there. Mary Alice and everyone at St. James understand that afternoon tea is more than just having tea. It’s about cultivating relationships in a place of beauty, a place that is designed to be timeless and gentle. We don’t often get such moments in our lives to just breathe, to just be. I feel that St. James was created for just that purpose. It’s a place I can’t wait to come back to.”
What is your St. James story? We love to hear how the Tearoom impacts the lives of our guests. Tell us yours any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You may help inspire others with what St. James is to you and have a chance to be featured in our blog. We can’t wait to hear from you!