It’s a tiny wedge of the London Ritz in the middle of Lakeport. At the Victorian English Inn you’ll be served High Tea with all the British courtesies. This in a town that on a sizzling day when the mercury clears the century mark, you can hear the roar of speedboats.
In winter, Lakeport compresses back into its small town quiet. And that is when innkeeper Karan Mackey gets the kettle boiling.
Starting on the weekend before Thanksgiving she brings out the Royal Albert “Old Country Roses” china and the three-tier trays and serves traditional “Tea” just as the Brits do it. That means savories as well as sweets; homemade scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry preserves.
“English tea really is the tradition of sitting down and talking, catching up,” Mackey says. “It’s amazing how many people have commented to us, ‘Wow, we haven’t done this in a year — just chit chatted quietly.””
Mackey, a complete Anglophile who returns every year to “The Sceptered Isle,” is scrupulous not only about how she serves the tea but how she prepares it. She serves only steeped Earl Grey leaves from Canada’s Mad Hatter.
You don’t have to be a guest at the inn to enjoy a dollop of British civility. Mackey serves English Victorian High Tea every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday at noon and 2:30 p.m. until Dec. 19. Tea is served in sunny rooms overlooking Clear Lake.
Mackey has visited many a real tea room in England — from the Ritz to the Pump House in Bath — to learn the fine points of an authentic British tea.
During the Christmas season Mackey turns the inn — really two historic 19th century homes on Main Street wrapped around an English garden and decorated with English antiques and curiosities — into a Victorian Christmas Fair open to overnight guests or day visitors. She’s done it up with opulent eye candy of the era, and sells gift items like tea pots, ornaments, linens and soaps she brings home from her travels. Staff and family dress in Victorian garb and carolers provide mood music.
On Dec. 19, the former Lake County Supervisor and Lakeport mayor, closes down and turns the inn back into the family home it was for 30 years before her nest emptied and she turned it into an inn eight years ago.
If you’re thinking of crossing the mountain into Lake County for a breakaway, consider the weekend after Thanksgiving. On Nov. 27 downtown Lakeport, with its Old Courthouse Square and classic lakeside park with a gazebo , turns into a Dickens Christmas Market. Merchants and townsfolk don their 19th century apparel for the day. Strolling minstrels, free sleigh rides by Eleven Roses Ranch, a Santa’s Workshop for little wishmakers and a lighted parade at 6 p.m., are all part of the homespun festivities.
While you’re up there, you might want to check out “The Mystery of the Christmas Star” planetarium show on Nov. 26 and 27 (7 p.m.) at the Kelseyville Planetarium. For details visit taylorobservatory.org.
A room with jacuzzi and view of the lake at the Lakeport English Inn is $165, including breakfast. It is located at 675 N. Main St., Lakeport. The phone is 707-263-4317. Or visit lakeportenglishinn.com.