Lady Magpie’s Tea and Curiosities Opens at the Tuckerton Seaport

Oct 17, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson Steam Punk Tea Room and Lady Magpies Curiosities gift shop opens at the Tuckerton Seaport's Captains House.

In conjunction with the Tuckerton Seaport, Phyllis and Grant Buford have opened a tea and gift shop in the Captain’s House, a 19th-century Victorian home that served as the home base for two sea captains’ families.

The Bufords have been making and selling repurposed and up-cycled mismatched china plates into tea cake holders, bird feeders and other fancy table pieces for about five years and have also staged the specialty tea parties for the Seaport at the Captain’s House, so when it became available on Fridays and Saturdays, they jumped at it, said Phyllis. “Ever since I was a 16-year old and went on a school trip to England and had tea at the Ritz, I have wanted to do a tea room,” she said.

The Captain’s House was open for visitors to peek at the “Steam Punk Café ” exhibit, which also held a New Jersey Scavenger Hunt during the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show.

On entering the Captain’s House you may notice a decorative chain and gear swag over the front door. Inside the porch is where the Seaport has staged a scavenger hunt among Steam Punk objects to find New Jersey’s bird, flower, fish, etc.

What is Steam Punk? According to Phyllis, it’s as if gasoline and other fuels were never harnessed but steam continued to be the main source of power. Think back to Will Smith in the movie “The Wild, Wild West” or more recently a remake of “Around the World in 80 Days,” or the authors Jules Vern or H.G. Wells and their inventions. Basically it involves fantastic gears, chains and other “punk” gear.

Through the porch and to the right is the gift shop that the Bufords have filled with their vintage china creations, and other crafted “curiosities” including metal flowers made of saw parts, welded spoons “people” and saw blades cut into fancy patterns by TD Fabrication.

Phyllis is also getting ready for the centennial celebration of the Votes for Women 19th Amendment Initiative in 2020 by recognizing the suffragettes. She has commemorative cups and plates stenciled with “Votes for Women” and has dressed a mannequin in suffragette costume.

After browsing through the giftware, continue to the tearoom through the library, which is now the “Around the World” display. This is being decorated with objects that an explorer or sea captain would have brought back from travels during the Victorian age.

The tearoom, on the other hand, is filled with inventions that changed the world, such as Edison’s light bulb and the gasoline engine.  “It’s so the Seaport can bring tours for schoolchildren through; it serves a dual purpose,” said Phyllis. The tearoom and gift shop will be open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Grant Buford is the baker on the team, and he is making cakes, scones and desserts plus finger sandwiches to go with the afternoon tea. There will be British black teas brewed from loose tea, and specialty fruit and green teas in bags.

All this will be served at elegant tables in the dining room and eventually in the library, which is being furnished with Victorian chairs and couches. “So you can sit on a couch and have afternoon tea in the library like they do on ‘Downton Abbey,’” she said.

Lady Magpie’s Tea and Curiosities and tearoom will have special occasion events such as a Halloween tea on Oct. 27, a steam punk event, Christmas tea, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day teas; these will require reservations. You can reserve a table for tea if you like by calling 609-597-7550 or go to Lady Magpie’s Tea on Facebook. Otherwise, any afternoon when you feel peckish (British word for slightly hungry) ,drop on in and sit in Victorian and steam punk splendor.

The Captain’s House does not require an admission to the Tuckerton Seaport, though you might want to take in the rest of the re-created maritime village while you are there. Climb the Tucker’s Island Lighthouse, see duck carvers and blacksmiths at work and enjoy a walk on the boards.

The Tuckerton Seaport is located at 120 West Main St. (Route 9) in historic Tuckerton.

— Pat Johnson

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