I'm obsessed with old houses. There, I've said it. Obsessed. So when my husband and I decided that it was high time to take a little vacation for ourselves and get away, of course I went right on over to Historic New England's website to see what events were coming up.
I noticed one that had all the necessary elements for fun - old house, good food, micro brewed ales, stories from the past, music, and fellowship with other old house nuts. Here is the description of "Tales and Ales" from Historic New England's website:
Saturday, October 18, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Swett-Ilsley House, 4 High Road, Newbury, Mass.
$35 Historic New England members, $60 nonmembers
In the late seventeenth century, Swett-Ilsley House served the town as Swett’s Tavern, one of three watering holes in Newbury. The huge fireplace and massive beams make a perfect backdrop for an evening of historic fun. Join your friends around a rough tavern table and enjoy traditional local brews from Ipswich Ale Brewery and a hearty tavern dinner while listening to true tales of sword fights, scandalous romances, and bloody brawls, all from Newbury’s storied past. Participants must be over 21.
|Swett-Isley House, 4 High Road,, Newbury, MA|
How could I resist that? It was a fantastic evening - which easily explains why it always sells out. The Swett-Ilsley House is the perfect backdrop for the night's festivities. Ipswich Ale Brewery made a couple of kegs of beer especially for the event. The musicians sat in front of the massive fireplace and the room was dimly lit with twinkle lights. We ate our meal in the adjoining room at long tables with benches. The dinner was served "family style". Umm, that is if your family eats with their hands. In 17th century tradition, the serving platter had a knife stuck in the roasted chicken. Guests carved off a portion of meat, flicked some roasted vegetables onto their own plate and dug right in. It was warm and delicious - the roasted vegetables were beautifully seasoned with herbs. The ale deliciously complementing the savory flavors. While we ate, we were entertained with lively 17th century folk music. Our table mates traded stories of their favorite Historic New England museums and shared other events that we should try.
Each of us were given little slips of paper with printed testimonies from late 17th century local court cases. These became our windows to the past. We were the actors in a 340 year old real life play, orchestrated by Historic New England's illustrious North Shore regional Mgr, Bethany Groff. If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall at a 17th century court hearing (and let's face it, who hasn't?), then this is your event.
If your idea of our puritan settlers is that they were staid and boring - you'll be in for a surprise.
Here is the little slip of paper that I read:
The evening ended with a very rousing rendition of "Wild Rover" complete with hand clapping and foot stomping, and a lovely ballad.
And did you notice that the price for all this wonder was only $35 per person!! (for members)
Historic New England runs many fun events throughout the year and is a treasure trove of information for New England heritage. They own 36 house museums and have over 110,000 objects. For membership info or to learn more, visit their website.
While we were in the area, David and I drooled over the other homes in the area and visited the farmer's market, some antique shops and of course, the Clam Box.
I'll leave you with this eye candy: