Lyons Corner House returned to Wellington at the weekend and revived the elegance of a 1930‘s afternoon tea. Attended by a team of ‘Nippy’ waitresses in distinctive maid-like uniforms, tea was served to customers in delicate china cups with dainty morsels arranged on antique cake stands under coloured gazebos in the garden of the St John’s the Baptist church hall.
Social Convenor Judith Dufour led working group regulars Jean Smith, Sue Young, Iris Ellins, Jenny Bache, Julie Morton, Joyce Norrish, Ruth Hawkin and Pat Andrews in providing afternoon tea in a gracious style found now only in movies and very expensive hotels. Bernard Barnes nobly added a male presence as a waiter. St John’s Rector, Tim Treanor, was on hand to host the event – and sample the cakes.
Wikipedia tells us that “a nippy was a waitress who worked in the J. Lyons & Co tea shops and cafes. Beginning in the late 19th century, a J. Lyons waitress was called a “Gladys”. From 1926, because the waitresses nipped around the tea shops, the term “Nippy” came into use.” Judith Dufour’s team lived up to their name when a brief shower sent them, their customers, tea cups and cake stands nippily indoors to the church hall where St John’s Musical Director John Young provided suitable entertainment.
Commenting on the pleasing number of customers who took advantage of this rare treat, Judith said, “We’ve had a good response this afternoon, not just from church regulars but from the wider community who have seen our posters. We’re pleased!”