The year-long Essex bicentennial celebration will continue later this month with a tea party in honor of 17th-century Essex icon Madame Varney.

The event will be held on Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church. Tea and lemonade will be served.

Lisa Clarke, who works at First Congregational, will portray Varney during the tea and talk about the construction of the Chebacco Parish meetinghouse. Other activities include trivia and a historical tour featuring the church's historical artifacts. Those who attend will receive a free commemorative tea towel while supplies last.

Varney and her friends, all women, orchestrated the building of Chebacco’s first meetinghouse in the 1670s. When the town fathers of Ipswich forbade the “men of Chebacco” from raising a meetinghouse, the women of the parish took charge and enlisted the help of men from Wenham, Gloucester and Manchester, who, technically speaking, were not subject to the ban. Volunteers arrived from throughout the area and raised the meetinghouse in one day. 

The June 22 event is being sponsored by First Ipswich Bank. For more information, contact Laura Doyle at 978-578-1613 or

Elder Abuse Awareness Day

An Elder Abuse Awareness Day rally will be held on Thursday, June 13, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., on the Village Green in front of Town Hall.

The event is supported by the Manchester Police Department, Council on Aging and Senior Care.

For more information on these events, visit

Quick hits

*Essex Shipbuilding Museum's spring fundraiser and clambake will be held Saturday, June 8, from 3 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Museum members receive a 10% discount. To register, call 978-768-7541 or visit

Town Talk is compiled by Michael Cronin. If you have a news tip or an item for Town Talk, please contact him at 978-675-2708, or