The time is the mid 1920s and the place is Barker’s Creek on the outskirts of Castlemaine in Central Victoria. That’s in Australia. And the occasion is the time honoured ceremony of Afternoon Tea, also known as Arvo Tea.
This particular bush afternoon tea is connected with playing tennis. It has been suggested that the tennis court was at a house called The Hermitage. Looking at the big teapot on the table it has probably been brought down from a nearby house ,with the cups and saucers and food in the suitcase, and probably organized by “Mother” who is blending into the background beside the tree in her matronly black.
Thought has gone into the picnic table, made from logs of different sizes overlaid with wire netting. Wire netting – it’s chicken wire and hence my SepSat chicken link .And who could possibly have afternoon tea without a special afternoon tea cloth ?
So who are these ladies. They come from the Robertson, Webber and Petherbridge families with Vera Tansey,sitting centre front, artfully displaying her engagement ring. She has come to know the group as she works with one of the Webber girls at the Ball and Welch store
From left, Marj Robertson, ….Petherbridge. Jessie Webber, Vera Tansey, Marion Webber, Dorrie Robertson., Mary Webber
These are the young ladies in their stockings ,and some wearing pearls ,who played that day. Presumably one of them took the tea time photo. But, look at the “net”. It’s hard to see but It is there, made from some more of the ever useful chicken wire. It is then topped with twists of some kind of material. Even the support at the end of the net looks like a bush makeshift arrangement. I bet they had fun.
Some of the players are wearing what were called closed toe sandals, a canvas sandal styled with a strap across the foot, while the others appear to be wearing the traditional laced-up shoes. One of the girls having tea is still wearing her strap sandshoes. The clothes are the same in the two photos so presumably they were taken on the same day.
And the link between the players ? Apart from two groups of sisters there is also the “work” link. Vera Tansey and Jessie Webber worked at Ball and Welch which was a draper’s shop which had been established in the Castlemaine area in the 1850s. They later opened an Emporium in Flinders St. Melbourne.
These two photos are of staff at the Castlemaine Ball and Welch in the 1920s. There is another lady in these two photos , a friend of our family, who was connected to the group of tennis ladies. But she hadn’t been playing on that special day in Barker’s Creek. Billie (Wilhemina) Webber is sitting front right in the left hand photo, and front centre in the casual dress photo. She is a cousin of the Webber girls playing tennis. And guess what . Last month she celebrated her 107th birthday, well and happy and living in Narranderra, NSW.
Here is a newspaper photo of Billie, turning 106 in 2012.
And you can join more picnic parties in the links on Sepia Saturday.