Thursday, 15 September 2016
Grand Duchess Marie’s Curiosity – Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha (1)
Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, the daughter of Alexander II, was as curious as Nicholas II (and I) looking through different homes.
After the death of Grand Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in August 1893, Marie’s husband Prince Alfred inherited the dukedom.
In Diana Mandache’s ‘Dearest Missy’, Grand Duchess Marie wrote on August 15th, 1893 “… I also want to see Gotha again and its enormous Schloss [Friedenstein] which I have quite forgotten …”
Aerial view of Schloss Friedenstein (below)
Schloss Friedenstein c1900 (below)
On February 4th, 1894 she wrote “… Our great amusement here now is to walk all over the castle [Friedenstein] and to poke into every corner. Ernie [Grand Duke of Hess] was delighted with it and we bundled various old things from garrets and servants rooms. The castle is so enormous that in two hours we could only do half of it … It is a blessing it is not cold, as the corridors and passages are icy and as the castle lies so high there seems to be always wind here …”
The above quote on the icy corridors reminded me of the diaries and letters I read on Belvoir Castle and the need to wear a fur coat when leaving your bedroom to walk down the icy halls to breakfast. To quote Prus, ‘small and simple’ is more comfortable for daily living!
In Schloss Friedenstein on January 19th, 1898 Marie wrote “… I have always plenty to do in arranging and improving the various rooms and have now got the keys of all the apartments, so that I can circulate by myself, without being accompanied by a whole retinue opening every door before me …”
It is a shame as there are very few photographs of the interiors of Grand Duchess Marie’s homes in England, Coburg and Gotha. It was thrilling to discover an 1899 photograph of Schloss Friedenstein’s Festsaal.
In the Alexander Palace on Friday, January 9th, 1899 Nicholas II wrote “… Uncle Sergei and Ella were leaving in the evening for Gotha with Uncle Alexei for the silver wedding of Aunt Mari and Uncle Alfred …”
The Festsaal on January 23rd, 1899 for the Silver Wedding Anniversary
Menu for January 23rd, 1899 (Winter Palace painting represents location of their wedding)
The Festsaal (below) beautifully restored today