Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Grand Dukes’ Nursery on the 1st Floor of the Winter Palace

The nursery, for the sons of Alexander II, was on the 1st floor on the southwestern side of the Winter Palace facing the Admiralty. It was called the 5th Spare. The rooms of their mother, Empress Marie, were directly above on the 2nd floor. A hidden staircase off her dressing room gave access to her children’s rooms.

Aerial (below) from the Admiralty to the Winter Palace c1880

Photo (below) of the southwestern side c1880 with the windows of the nursery on the 1st floor and the Empress’ balcony above

Photo (below) of a nursery in the late 1800s (note the playpen)

As the older sons reached ten years of age, they were moved to rooms on the 2nd floor. Grand Duke Sergei (1857) and Grand Duke Paul (1860) were the youngest sons of Alexander II. In 1867, Sergei moved to the rooms on the 2nd floor of Alexei who went to join Vladimir in the 2nd Spare. Paul remained in their former nursery until the late 1880s.

In February 1872, the Minister of the Court was informed of the theft of a painting by Johann Meyer from the room next to the corridor in Paul’s apartment. The painting was never recovered.

On December 9th, 1876 Sergei and Paul raced their new bicycles along the large corridor on the 1st floor. Sergei wrote ‘we rolled everywhere, even before the guard’ who were stationed at the Saltykov and Large Courtyard entrances.

In Peterhof on June 6th, 1884 Nicholas II wrote “… At a quarter past ten Uncle Pitz [Paul] came for me … We went to the Winter Palace to see Uncle Pitz’s rooms …”

The former rooms of Grand Duke Paul were later occupied by Grand Duke Alexander and Grand Duchess Xenia from 1894 until their house on the Moika was completed.

Two of the expenses listed in the archive documents for Xenia’s rooms were for a Bell telephone and an ice box, a prototype of a refrigerator.

In Tsarskoe Selo on Sunday, January 12th, 1897 Nicholas wrote “… At 12:55 AM Xenia gave birth to a son – Andrei! At 10 AM to St. Petersburg … after lunch in the Anichkov … I went with Mama to the Winter Palace to see Xenia and the newborn …”

Prince Andrei was the last baby born in the Winter Palace.

Photo (below) of rooms in the 5th Spare today


  1. I am loving every post of your Winter Palace Research. Thank you so much.

  2. Thank you very much. It is lovely to share my research and to know others will love not only the exhibitions in the Hermitage but the amazing restoration work.