Friday, 2 December 2016
“My Wonderful House on the Seashore” – Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich
The Lower Dacha in the Alexandria Park in Peterhof is widely known as the summer residence of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra. Few are aware that the original house (below c1894) was the setting for the only independence permitted to Nicholas when Tsarevich.
It is incomprehensible the tight control Alexander III and Empress Marie maintained over their son. Polovtsov’s diaries are revealing and disturbing; there are countless entries of the restrictions imposed on Nicholas as if he was an immature teenager rather than a man in his twenties.
Although an apartment was renovated on the 3rd floor of the Winter Palace in 1891, Nicholas never occupied it. Until his 26th year, he continued to live in his boyhood rooms in the Anichkov and Gatchina palaces.
On Saturday, May 28th, 1894 Nicholas arrived in Peterhof from Krasnoe Selo and Alexander III from Gatchina. He wrote “… We went all around Alexandria – it was so good to see again these familiar and favorite palaces. I was especially happy about my marvellously newly constructed ‘Villa Baboon’ [Lower Dacha] …”
On Tuesday July 19th, 1894 arriving from England to Peterhof, Nicholas wrote “… With pleasure I returned to my wonderful house on the seashore…”
Photographs (below) of the Lower Dacha and the sea c1894
On Friday, July 22nd, 1894 he wrote “… then I brought my cousins [Victoria & Maud of Wales] with me to the sea and showed them my home from top to bottom …”
After his marriage, Nicholas wrote on Saturday, May 27th, 1895 “… we arrived at Peterhof at 4PM. With joyful and passionate feelings I entered Alexandria and went to my house by the sea …” Nicholas wrote ‘my house’ but soon it was ‘our house’.
On Friday, August 25th, 1895 he wrote “…Had a conversation with Tomishko, the architect, about an addition to our home here on the meadow side …”
On Sunday, May 31st, 1898 Nicholas wrote “… went to the sea to our newly built home. We looked over everything with interest from top to bottom, and generally were pleased with everything that had been done. I was thrilled to look at our private rooms, in which we were in 1895 …” Although aware of the need for increased space, Nicholas determined that the ‘old’ house would be ‘his’ rooms in the new dacha.
Photograph (below) of the Lower Dacha c1900
Nicholas did have problems with his ‘wonderful’ house. On Tuesday, May 11th, 1899 he wrote “… We froze during dinner in my Study, because the wind was blowing so forcefully through the windows; it was 8C and up to 10C even with the heat on! Here you are – dacha living! …” On Friday, May 21st he wrote “… I have taken offense at the weather and had double window-frames installed in my Study! …”
A rare photograph (below) of the Lower Dacha c1930
Plans (below) of the Reconstruction of the Lower Dacha