Monday, 31 October 2016

Grand Duke’s Bachelor Apartment in the Small Hermitage

In 1859 Grand Duke Nicholas, the son of Alexander II (at 15 years old), moved from the 2nd Spare apartment he shared with his brother Alexander to the Small Hermitage.

The Grand Duke’s bachelor apartment was on the 2nd Floor of the Small Hermitage, facing Palace Square and Millionnaya Ulitisa.

Hau’s 1865 Watercolor (below) of the Grand Duke’s Study


Plan & List of the 2nd Floor of the Small Hermitage
(clique on plan to enlarge)




272                   Corridor (Windows onto Winter Garden)
262                   Romanov Gallery (Southern Part)
258                   Gallery of St. Petersburg Views
257                   Eastern Gallery
258A                 Study of Grand Duke
258B                 Drawing Room of Grand Duke
258C                 Bedroom of Grand Duke (doors to bathroom & staircase)
                        Inner Interior Rooms – Grand Duke’s Governor, Valet, Wardrobes, etc.

Photograph (below) of the Exterior of the Small Hermitage (showing the windows of the plan above)



At the same time in 1859, the ‘State Court of His Imperial Highness Tsarevich’ was formed. The Grand Duke’s staff included 85 people, 36 who directly served him. It appears a staggering number but some were permanent within the various palaces while others migrated with him from palace to palace, i.e. 10 stokers.

Hau’s 1865 Watercolor (below) of the Grand Duke’s Bedroom


After the death of Nicholas in 1865, his brother Alexander moved into the bachelor apartment until his marriage to Dagmar in October 1866.

The former bachelor apartment is now part of the Hermitage library.

Photograph (below) of the Library today




Saturday, 29 October 2016

Royal Travelling Entourages with 70 / 90 Attendants

In the episode ‘Victoria & Albert’s Highland Fling’ in the ‘Walking Through History’ series, Tony Robinson stopped at Blair Castle. He revealed the 1844 visitors’ book that listed the names and positions of the seventy attendants in Queen Victoria’s entourage during their stay in Scotland.

One of the names on the list was Victoria’s personal upholsterer. What did he have to repair?

On September 22nd, 1844 a few days before leaving Blair Castle, Prince Albert wrote to the Dowager Duchess of Coburg “… We are all well, and live a somewhat primitive, yet romantic, mountain life …”

Aerial View and Panorama (below) of Blair Castle, Scotland




Photograph (below) of Blair Castle’s Entrance Hall


In Natalie Livingstone’s ‘The Mistresses of Cliveden’ in May 1866, Queen Victoria asked the Duchess of Sutherland for a favor to stay at Harriet’s Cliveden House as she needed a ‘change of air’. Victoria was accompanied by an entourage of 90 attendants for the ten days.

Aerial (below) of Cliveden House, England


The numbers are staggering to read. It reminds one of the progressions to private estates by Queen Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great which would bankrupt their hosts.

It would be interesting to see the list of persons who accompanied the Russian Imperial family during their travels.

On Thursday, October 17th, 1896 Nicholas II and Alexandra left Darmstadt. He wrote “… Although the mix of our group in the train changed, the number was the same …”

On Friday, September 17th, 1897 Nicholas II wrote “… morning, and after coffee, we watched how people were leaving with their baggage. At 9 AM we left dear Spala [to Darmstadt] …”

I have a list of presents taken by Empress Marie on her trip to Denmark and the amount that was returned to the Court Ministry after the trip but not of the people attending her.

An interesting side note is one of the mistresses of Cliveden was Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the ancestress of Victoria and Albert. 

She grew up in Schloss Friedenstein where Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna lived from 1893 to 1900.

Augusta arrived in England in 1736 to marry Frederick, the Prince of Wales. The only companion she had from Gotha was a jointed doll, the favorite plaything of her childhood. At the same age, Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna arrived with her dolls in Athens to marry King George.  

Friday, 28 October 2016

Unwanted Guests (creepy-crawlies) – Part 2

The Empress Frederick (Vicky) wrote to her daughter the Crown Princess Sophie of her own encounters with creepy-crawlies and other palace problems.

Sophie had described the inadequacies of her Tatoi villa and her mother Empress Frederick replied “…I well understand that the state you found the house was not edifying. Your description reminds exactly of what Friedrickskron [Vicky had renamed Neues Palais] used to be like between 1860-1870. Lots of dead bats I found in one big empty room, and bugs by the 100. The beds I begged all to have burnt, but they were not. WC’s and water there were none. You can hardly have an idea!”

Aerial photograph (below) of the Neues Palais, Potsdam


The Empress further writes “…How furious the royal Hofmarschalls were with me when I rowed and complained and begged for money and reforms. Now William and Dona live there in comfort and cleanliness, where their parents were more or less only encamped for years. Every drop of water was fetched for every bath and for the kitchen …”

In 1899, Nicholas II and Alexandra encountered over heated rooms in the Neues Palais. On Thursday, October 21st, 1910 Nicholas II left Wolfsgarten for a 3 day visit to Potsdam, alone. He wrote on Friday, October 22nd  “… to the palace [Neues Palais] … The Empress was waiting downstairs in the seashell hall. They put me in the rooms where I had stayed in 1899 …”

Panorama (below) of the Grottensaal [Seashell Hall], Neues Palais


The Empress then goes on “… Of Royal castles, the only clean ones were Gotha and Coburg and Hesse and Brunswick, where the servants were tidy. All the rest were as you saw at Aunt Vera’s and in Denmark. Dresden and Weimar were awful… Worst of all at Karlsruhe and Baden, where I used to stay for weeks every year, and where I used to have an insight into German Court and Palace life behind the scenes, which filled me with dismay…”

Sophie then writes how fortunate her mother is in her beautiful smooth running home Schloss Friedrichshof in Kronberg.

Photograph (below) of Schloss Friedrichshof


The Empress replied “… Indeed I do appreciate my dear Friedrichshof … Alas, very few servants of any of my guests take the least care of my things, and are very messy and untidy in their rooms. I shall have to fresh paper several…”

On Friday, October 4th, 1896 Nicholas II wrote “ … Alix, Ella, Erni and I went off to Homburg where Aunt Vicky met us … We went in carriages to Friedrichshof, where we had lunch in the beautiful castle. We looked it over and admired the marvelous furnishings of all the spaces inside …”


Interior photographs (below) of Schloss Friedrichshof



Thursday, 27 October 2016

Winter Palace In Winter Snow

Autumn has sneaked up on me! Last week it was 30c, today 1C with freezing rain and next week back up to 15C. Good grief!

It is fascinating to read Nicholas II’s diaries on the changes of the season: his grumpy comments on the short daylight hours in the winter, the need to turn on the lamps, the snowstorms where he is unable to walk in the garden.
Photographs (below) of the Winter Palace in Winter Snow












Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Countess Alexandra Hendrikov’s Apartment on the 3rd Floor of the Winter Palace

Countess Alexandra (Nastenka) Hendrikov, lady in waiting to Empress Alexandra, had an apartment in the Freylinsky Corridor on the 3rd Floor of the Winter Palace in 1916-1917.

Countess Olga Hendrikoff was the sister-in-law of Nastenka, married to her brother Peter.

In ‘A Countess in Limbo - Diaries in War & Revolution – Russia 1914-1920 & France 1939-1947’ edited by Suzanne Carsallen, Countess Olga Hendrikoff describes the Hendrikov family home at 3 Mikhailovskaya Square (Михайловская площади) and Nastenka’s suite of rooms.

Photo of Mikhailovskaya Square (below) c1900


On February 27th, 1917 Olga writes of Nastenka’s return to Petrograd and having been met by a palace courtier in plain clothes rather than court livery.

Photograph of Nastenka & Baroness Buxhoeveden


In July 1917, Olga, prior to leaving for Kislovdsk, went to the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo to say goodbye to Nastenka and describes this last sad meeting.


Photograph (below) of a room in Nastenka's apartment in the Winter Palace in November 1917

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Bronze Apollo & Daphne Clock in Empress Marie’s Bathroom

Rudolphus von Furstenberg shared on his Facebook page yesterday www.facebook.com/rudolphusegon.vonfurstenberg
a link to a beautiful video of Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne www.facebook.com/restaurars/videos/1202835473073149/

In Empress Marie’s bathroom on the 2nd Floor of the Winter Palace, there was a bronze clock with Bernini’s figures of Apollo and Daphne on the marble mantelpiece. It was made by the famous St. Petersburg firm of bronzier Felix Chopin.

Hau’s watercolor (enlarged view below) of Empress Marie’s Bathroom with the marble mantelpiece on the left


The watercolor shows a side view of the fireplace with the candelabra in front of the clock under the protective glass. I have been unable to discover where the clock is today or even a photograph of it. Can anyone help?


Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne

Monday, 24 October 2016

Plan c1900 of the Freylinsky Corridor on the 3rd Floor of the Winter Palace

The Freylinsky (Ladies-In-Waiting) Corridor in the Winter Palace was a ‘maze’ of apartments as described by the ladies in their memoirs, diaries and letters.

The plan below shows the layout of the corridor c1900 and today. The rooms were renovated in the 1930s by the architect Sivkov for exhibition space.

(clique on plan to enlarge)


368-376 Apartments (governesses, dressmakers)
Rooms 334 to 349 Freylinsky Corridor (Ladies-in-Waiting)
Corridor of 10 Apartments c1896
Frau M. Geringer 19 to 21
E. Schneider 18
350                   Alexandra Zhukovsky (Grand Duke Alexei A.’s love)
341 & 346         Former bathroom/toilet
315 to 332         Servant Rooms
                        Archives of the Ministry of the Imperial Court
                        Senior Livery Offices

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Plan & List of the 3rd Floor of the Winter Palace

Plan & List of the 3rd Floor of the Winter Palace
(clique on plan to enlarge)


398 & 400         Corridor
399                   Upper Level of Winter Garden
398A                 Diamond Room/Porcelain Museum
Rooms 394 to 397 – Apartment/Grand Duke Alexei A.
Rooms 808 to 900 – Service Rooms
Rooms 384 to 393 – Nicholas I/Alexander III
393                   State Secretary
392                   Portrait Drawing Room
391                   Corner Drawing Room
390                   Study
389                   Dressing Room
388                   Valet/Bathroom
799                   Library
387                   Empress’ Study
Mezzanines above 384 to 386
386                   Valet
385                   On-Duty Attendant
384                   Emperor’s Wardrobe
Rooms 381A to 383 – Apartment/Nicholas II’s 1891-1894
383                   Empress’ Wardrobe
382                   Empress’ Diamond Room
381                   Maid of Honor
381A                 Buffet
351 & 359         Corridor
367A                 Saltykov Staircase
Rooms 360 to 367
360-362 Katia, 2nd wife of Alexander II
368-376 Apartments (governesses, dressmakers)
358                   Corridor - Staircase
333                   Corridor – Staircase
354 to 356         Apartment (Baron Schilling/children of Katia & Alexander II)
351A – 353        Apartment (Adjutant)
351B to 351E    Maids
Rooms 334 to 349 Freylinsky (Ladies In Waiting) Corridor
Corridor of 10 Apartments c1896
Frau M. Geringer 19 to 21
E. Schneider 18
350                   Alexandra Zhukovsky (Grand Duke Alexei A.’s love)
341 & 346         Former bathroom/toilet
315 to 332         Servant Rooms
                        Archives of the Ministry of the Imperial Court
                        Senior Livery Offices
Northeastern Corner facing Neva
                       2nd floor of the Minister of the Court’s apartment
                      Offices of the Officials of the Court Ministry

Monday, 17 October 2016

Nicholas II’s Curiosity – Alexander Palace in Moscow

I was baffled when Nicholas II refered to the Alexander Palace or Alexandria Garden in Moscow in his diaries. I associate the Alexander Palace with Tsarskoe Selo and Alexandria with Peterhof.

The confusion was with the name. I knew of the Neskuchne (Нескучное) estate but was unaware, after being sold to Nicholas I in November 1826, it was renamed Alexandria for the Empress Alexandra.

Photograph (below) of the Alexander Palace in Moscow May 1896
(clique on photo to enlarge)


On Monday, May 6th, 1896 Nicholas II and Alexandra arrived in Moscow for the Coronation. They stayed for two nights at the Petrovsky Palace. On Thursday, May 9th they made their official entrance into Moscow. After tea in the Kremlin at 5 PM, they left to stay at the Alexander Palace.

Nicholas II wrote “… Alix and I left for Alexandria. I lodged in my old room … We had supper together and I walked around the entire house, which I did not remember at all …”

Photographs of the Halls (below) in the Alexander Palace May 1896




Photograph (below) of the Alexander Palace (Neskuchne) today


Friday, 14 October 2016

Plan & List of the 2nd Floor of the Winter Palace

Plan & List of the 2nd Floor of the Winter Palace
(clique on plan to enlarge)





Neva Enfilade
192                   Anteroom
191                   Nicholas Hall
190                   Concert Hall
151-153 Pompeian Gallery/Eastern Gallery
152                   Winter Garden
154                   Small Church
155                   Moorish Dining Room
156                   Rotunda
188                   Pompeian Dining Room/White Dining Room
188A                 Pantry
189                   Malachite Hall
Rooms of Empress Alexandra
187                   White Drawing Room/Empire Drawing Room
186                   Crimson Drawing Room/Silver Drawing Room
185                   Study
184                   Bedroom
184A                 On-Duty Maid’s Room
183                   Dressing Room/Boudoir
670                   Bathroom 
182                   Boudoir/NII’s Small Study
181                   Winter Garden/NII’s Private Study
180                   Anteroom/NII’s Valet
179                   Empress’ Dining Room/NII’s Dressing Room
961                   Empress’ Dining Room/NII’s Bath
178                   Empress’ Dining Room/NII’s Gothic Library
177                   Buffet/Billiard
176                   Diamond Room/Reception
175                   Anteroom to Saltykov Staircase
303                   Dark Corridor
3rd Spare – Rooms 157 to 160 - Grand Dukes’ Nikolai & Mikhail/Spare Apartment
157                   Attendant/Dressing Room
158                   Dining Room/Bedroom
159                   Bedroom/Study
160                   Classroom/Drawing Room
Rooms 161 to 166 – Grand Duke Konstantin/Alexander II
161                   Ship Room/Drawing Room
162                   Bedroom/Library
163                   Classroom/Military Library
164                   Valet/Dressing Room
165                   Attendant/Oxygen Room
166                   Staircase
Rooms of Alexander II
174                   Billiard
173                   Reception
172                   Cabinet
171                   Study/Bedroom
170                   Valet
169                   Library
Rooms of Empress Marie Alexandrovna
168                   Dressing Room
345                   Bathroom
307                   Bedroom
306                   Boudoir
305                   Study
304                   Gold Drawing Room
308                   Green Dining Room
289                   White Hall
167                   Small Fieldmarshal Hall
302                   HM Own Staircase Landing
302A                HM Own Staircase Corridor
1st Spare – Rooms of Grand Duchess Maria N. & Duke of Leuchtenberg/Guest Suite
301                   Anteroom
300                   Maria’s Small Study
299                   Maria’s Dressing Room
298                   Bedroom
297                   Duke’s Dressing Room
296                   Maria’s Study
295                   Yellow Drawing Room
294                   Large Drawing Room
293                   Duke’s Salon
292                   Duke’s Drawing Room
291                   Duke’s Study
290                   Duke’s Valet/Wardrobe
Military Halls
288                   Hall of Cuirassiers
287                   1st Military Hall
286                   2nd Military Hall
285                   3rd Military Hall
284                   4th Military Hall
283                   5th Military Hall
2nd Spare – Sons of Alexander II/Guest Suite
281                   Drawing Room
280                   Dining Room/Drawing Room
279                   Drawing Room
278                   Small Cabinet
277                   Bedroom
276                   Study
275                   Large Cabinet
Rooms 268 to 274 – Attendants/Servants/Service Rooms
269 A                Commandant Staircase
State Rooms
282                   Alexander Hall
269                   Anteroom to Large Church
270                   Anteroom to Large Church
271                   Large Church
196                   Picket Hall
197                   Military Gallery
198                   St. George Hall
260                   Apollo Hall
195                   Armorial Hall
194                   Small Throne Room
193                   Fieldmarshal’s Hall
Rooms 143 to 150 – Ministry of the Court
200                   Corridor
201                   Corridor
201A                 Minister of the Court’s Apartment and on 3rd floor
202                   Anteroom to Small Hermitage