Take tea at Wilderstein in Rhinebeck

photo of Wilderstein by Dion Ogust

Since the death of Margaret (Daisy) Suckley at the age of 99½ in 1991, and the subsequent restoration of her graceful Queen Anne mansion Wilderstein, residents of Rhinebeck have had increasing reason to celebrate the memory of their late illustrious neighbor. Geoffrey Ward’s 1995 book Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley brought Daisy’s role as FDR’s longtime confidante into broad public consciousness for the first time.

The latest development in the story is the announcement of Hyde Park on the Hudson, a feature film starring Bill Murray as FDR and Laura Linney as Daisy Suckley, scheduled for release in December. The script by Rhinebeck resident Richard Nelson is based on his play, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2009, and reportedly adheres to the controversial hypothesis that a romantic relationship existed between the two friends. Told from Daisy’s point of view, the dramatic comedy focuses on the famous “hot dog picnic” visit of Britain’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the Roosevelt estate in 1939. It also stars Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt, Olivia Colman as the Queen and Samuel West as the King.

But you don’t have to wait that long to share Daisy’s day in the limelight. The Wilderstein Historic Site’s annual Victorian-era Daffodil Tea is scheduled for Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. Guests can enjoy a festive afternoon featuring fine tea, homemade cakes, cookies and finger sandwiches, plus a tour of the refurbished mansion and an opportunity to stroll the Calvert Vaux-designed landscapes of the estate while the daffodils are in bloom.

For the uninitiated, the Wilderstein website offers the following protocol for proper tea-sipping: “Remember, pinkies up! Teacups with a handle are held by placing one’s fingers to the front and back of the handle, with one’s pinkie up for balance. ‘Pinkie up’ does not mean straight up in the air, but slightly tilted. This is not an affectation – rather, a graceful way of avoiding spills. Never loop your fingers through the handle, nor grasp the vessel bowl with the palm of your hand.” No pressure!

The cost per person is $30. Advance reservations are necessary, as limited seating tends to fill up quickly. To reserve your spot, or for additional information, call (845) 876-4818 or visit www.wilderstein.org. Wilderstein is located at 330 Morton Road in the Town of Rhinebeck.

 

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