Do you know the real story of the Boston Tea Party? Shamefully, I thought it was just the name given to a chain of coffee shops! (I studied Science, not American History!). I had no idea that it was an incredibly significant event that changed the course of American History! My newfound knowledge is thanks to Steph, who kindly provided me with tickets to visit the ‘Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum’ whilst I was visiting the states.
So what exactly is the ‘Boston Tea Party’?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, here’s a quick history lesson (credit: www.history.com)
Pretty interesting, right?!
Abigail’s Tea Room
Before our tour, we visited Abigail’s Tea Room, which is situated just outside of the main exhibition, offering stunning waterfront views of Boston’s harbour. It complements the experience really well, with a selection of freshly baked goods, sweet desserts, and savoury lunch snacks on offer. There is also the chance to purchase one (or as many as you want) of the five teas that were thrown overboard! You don’t just have to sip on tea though! They also serve beers from Boston’s own Harpoon Brewery.
The tour is split into four main parts, which take you through the events leading up to, during, and after the Boston Tea Party. This provides for a fully immersive, educational, and fun experience, lasting approximately 1 hour.
Part 1 – The Meeting
The journey begins with an interactive colonial town meeting, where you are each provided with an identity card. The identity cards represent real people who took part in the Boston Tea Party and actors take on the roles of the most important figures behind the rebellion (there is a guest appearance from Samuel Adams). Guests are encouraged to be vocal; booing, cheering, and hissing throughout the speeches, both engaging and entertaining for the crowd.
Part 2 – The Boat
Once the meeting is over, it is time for the tea party itself! We boarded the ship ‘Eleanor’; a replica of the 18th century ship used in the Boston Tea Party. The drama is heightened as actors continue the story, re-enacting the scenes from within the boat. We each had the chance to be involved, throwing the boxes of teas overboard into the same harbour it entered almost 300 years ago (not real tea of course – they were huge plastic boxes, attached to the ship by a rope!) Being British, I felt somewhat of a traitor but I really wanted to get involved, so fellow Brits – don’t judge me! There is also time for a quick tour of the ship – the downstairs decorated with desks, bunk beds and boxes of tea.
Part 3 – The Museum
Following on from the tea party, the museum tour begins with ‘the morning after’. A 3D holographic debate takes place, discussing the ramifications of their (now your) actions, giving a deeper understanding of the events that unfolded post party.
The main highlight for me was the displaying of the Robinson’s Tea Chest. The Robinson’s Tea Chest is the only known surviving tea chest from the party, discovered the morning after, and recovered from the ocean in 1773. Over the years, it has been passed down the generations, and now resides in a glass case situated in the museum, as a spectacular relic of that fateful night.
It is at this point portraits on the wall come to life, as an argument breaks out between King George III and Samuel Adams. This was brilliantly and hilariously executed. At no point did any of us expect the paintings to be fake, so watching them come to life was a cool surprise.
Part 4 – The Film
Finally, we made our way to the Minuteman Theatre where the award winning short film ‘Let it Begin Here’ is played. This acts as a great summary to the Boston Tea Party and also adds on the events that came to a crescendo on April 18th 1775, where the “Shot heard around the world” was fired and the Revolution officially begun.
Thank you again to the Museum for providing me with tickets. I learnt an awful lot and would recommend this exhibition to anyone visiting Boston. It is also family friendly, as the interactions throughout make it a fun environment for children to learn in.
For more info, please check out their website: Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum