It’s the kind of whisper you’d share behind an ostrich fan, as your confidante holds a long-sleeved glove to her ears.
“Rumor has it, King George and Queen Mary might visit the Stegmaier Mansion!”
In the spirit of “Downton Abbey: The Movie,” which opens this month in American theaters, the Mary Stegmaier Mansion in downtown Wilkes-Barre will welcome guests to a Downton Abbey Dinner on Sept. 14, offering such delicacies as Mrs. Patmore’s Creamy Potato Leek Soup, Lord Grantham’s Beef Wellington and many other dishes.
Local historical re-enactor Jennifer Ochman will serve as hostess, wearing 1927-style attire from her beaded headband to her beaded pumps, and she will be prepared to welcome the king and queen, if they are able to attend.
“This is complete freedom,” she said during a recent photo shoot at the mansion, pointing out that the skirt is shorter than those worn during previous decades, meaning above the ankles “and there are no constricting undergarments or bustles.”
On the evening of the dinner, Ochman will have recently returned from a 10-day trip to England with some folks from WVIA, which is co-sponsoring the dinner. They will have toured Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed, as well as some settings for other Masterpiece Theater offerings, from Cornwall, where “Poldark” is filmed, to Kensington Palace, which is a setting for “Victoria.”
She’ll be able to talk about Highclere from a first-person perspective, just as Lady Mary or Lady Edith or Lord Grantham might.
Speaking of those members of the Crawley family, each of them has part of the menu named after him or her. The Sept. 14 dinner, which begins at 5:30 p.m. with hors d’oevres and crudites, includes a champagne toast “in honor of Lord and Lady Grantham” followed by Mrs. Patmore’s creamy potato leek soup, Daisy’s harvest choice salad, Lady Edith’s sorbet, and a choice from among three entrees, Lord Grantham’s Beef Wellington, the Dowager Countess’ Coq au Vin and Lady Mary’s Encrusted Haddock.
Dessert is Cousin Isobel’s chocolate Charlotte Russe.
The dinner is $75, which includes tax and gratuities. Call Maureen at 570-332-4250 for reservations.
When asked if any drinks at the cash bar might reflect the time period, Ochman suggested that “Sidecars” were popular in the 1920s.
“That’s cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice,” Stegmaier Mansion owner Joe Matteo said thoughtfully, after consulting an online mixology guide. “I could get some cognac …. we can use it in the bar when we start serving dinners here in mid-October.”
With the Downton Abbey Dinner’s cocktail hour on the first floor and the dinner on the second floor, Matteo said, guests will able to admire several rooms in the mansion, which reflects the 1920s time period of the Downton Abbey movie.
“I get to walk up that staircase,” Ochman said with a smile.
“I can’t wait to be inside (the mansion),” said Jennifer Rempe from WVIA, who will attend the event and talk about upcoming Masterpiece Theater offerings. By coming to the dinner, guests automatically will be entered into a raffle to win tickets for an upcoming Masterpiece Theater screening. Unfortunately, it won’t be the Sept. 15 WVIA preview of “Downton Abbey: The Movie,” because there are no seats left for that event. But it could be for “Poldark” or “Victoria” or another show of the winner’s choosing.