Apr 27, 2010

Tea, history and the Victorian Society

by Karissa Sechrist


More than teacups, parasols and Charles Dickens novels, the Liberty University Victorian Society has remained active since it was started by Dr. Brenda Ayres in 2008.  While some students may wonder how a society could be formed around a historical time period, the Victorian Society plans activities each month.  

“We are not just about crumpets and hoop skirts. We are a society composed of a diverse set of people who enjoy learning about and communicating significant elements of the Victorian era,” senior Anneke Darling said.  

Darling and senior Brandi Hatfield attended a tea party and Victorian movie night hosted by Ayres in 2008.  Both girls immediately became interested in the society and took on leadership roles.  Hatfield became the president, and Darling became the vice president.  

Since then the Victorian Society has hosted teas, attended Victorian era plays, visited nursing homes to sing Victorian hymns and Christmas carols and helped host Civil War era balls, among other activities.  

Students have many reasons for becoming part of the society, but all possess a shared common interest in the history and lifestyle of the Victorian time period.

“I have always been interested in the Victorian/American Civil War era. Finding a club on campus which allows you to participate in events that surround that era, through learning, having fun and fellowship and being able to dress up in the costumes makes you feel like you’re almost living in that era,” junior Sara Jean Mellette said. “It’s also a lot of fun to meet others who are interested in the same thing. You are able to share experiences of any reenactments, balls, ghost walks or other events that allow you to live out history in the present.” 

The Victorian Society has also made an effort to reach out in service to the local community.

“One of my favorite activities has been our annual Christmas caroling in costume at nursing homes,” Hatfield said. “The joy on the faces of the nursing home residents was such a blessing. It warmed my heart to see them sing along with us as we took their special requests. Although we had our list of traditional Christmas carols, it was funny when they asked us to sing more modern Christmas songs.” 

Each year Liberty hosts the Civil War Heritage Ball following the Civil War seminar.  Members of the Victorian Society help out at the event by serving tea in costumes to the participants and many Victorian Society members also enjoy attending the ball.

“When you first walk into the room, you see a sea of beautiful period ball gowns and civil war ‘veterans,’ both Confederates and Union soldiers, having a grand old time,” Mellette said, who has been to the ball twice.  


Contact Karissa Sechrist at


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