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Berkeley Castle Tea a popular holiday event

December 03, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Sunday's fifth annual Yule Tea at Berkeley Castle was a sold-out affair again.

The annual tea party is a fundraiser for the Museum of the Berkeley Springs, and the donated funds will be used to continue to expand the museum exhibits and the virtual museum, said Jeanne Mozier, board secretary.

Berkeley Castle is the home of Andrew Gosline, and he has allowed the use of the castle for the fundraiser teas since 2003.

"It's very nice to open our home to the town and have it decorated for the holiday season," Gosline said, "and it's for a good cause."

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The museum's executive director, Tamme Marggraf, said this year's theme was Snowflakes and Christmas, and more than 100 handmade beaded snowflakes were made by volunteers and members.

"We have a wonderful crowd," Marggraf said.

Local actress and musician Jill Klein Rone portrayed Rosa Pelham Suit, for whom the castle was built for in the late 1800s as a wedding present by her husband, Samuel Taylor Suit. He died five years later.

According to the Berkeley Castle Web site, Rosa Suit spent her way through two fortunes by hosting gala events at the castle after her husband's death.

Speaking in a southern accent, since Rosa came from Alabama, Klein Rone told the guests about her life in Berkeley Springs in the 1890s.

"Rosa is my favorite character," Klein Rone said after her performance.

Berkeley Springs residents Sierra and Abigail Hovermale, both 8, did not drink tea but enjoyed the punch. They liked Klein Rone's "Rosa," they said. The girls attended the tea with their grandmother, Felicia Hovermale, and great-grandmother, Betty Trittipoe, a museum member.

More than 80 percent of the guests this year were from out of town, said Beth Peters Curtin of Travel Berkeley Springs, who sold the tickets, with people hailing from Silver Spring, Md., and Annapolis, and as far as Ann Arbor, Mich.

Wearing the signature red hat, eight members of the Red Hat Society's "Chesapeake Chicks" drove from Annapolis to attend the tea, said Susan Faughnan, the chapter queen.

She said they are familiar with Berkeley Springs and enjoy coming to the town, especially for the spas, she said.

Red Hat member Catherine Violette said everything was nice at the castle tea, and she especially enjoyed Klein Rone's portrayal of Rosa Pelham Suit.

Michael Schechtman and Karen Leichtnam are from Silver Spring and have a weekend home in Berkeley Springs.

Leichtnam said she found the Yule Tea while checking the Berkeley Springs Web site to find out what events are available.

Alan and Barbara Stewart came from Ann Arbor to visit family in Berkeley Springs and timed it to attend the Yule Tea, Barbara Stewart said.

"We came for the tea," she said. "We love teas."

The castle sits high on Warm Springs Ridge overlooking the town and is the only English Norman Castle in the United States. It is a half-scale replica of Berkeley Castle near Bath, England, according to the castle's Web site.

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