we crossed the landing, with Hans Peter, the castle guide, and were shown into the first of several beautiful rooms.
On the way, I noticed this lovely frieze, the motifs beautifully picked out in finely painted detail. The castle was in great shape and had been very well restored/maintained.
The first room, the “room of legends” was decorated with scenes from traditional German history and folklore. I imagine that, if you are the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, you would have a rich history of your own family to record in this way, too. Suffice to say, this was a lovely room indeed and it was a good job Hans Peter pointed out the floor or else I might have overlooked it completely.
Fine marquetry patterns were worked in there, reminiscent of Hawaiian quilting and applique designs. Right up my street.
Though there was time to look at things properly and listen to Hans Peter, he kept things moving along and we were soon in the next room, named after the gentleman in the cameo above our heads: Field Marshall Blücher.
Another beautiful wooden floor, with exquisite marquetry patterns making the most of the wide range of colours and grain of the timber.
“Anyone from Canada?” Hans Peter asked in the next room. Someone identified herself, to which Hans Peter replied “Thank you!” This room was panelled in Canadian Maple, and if your attention was not overwhelmed by the amazing porcelain displays, gifts sent down the river from Russia, you’d have noted yet another superb floor. An interesting fact about the porcelain was shared by Hans Peter, though: the huge and very fragile porcelain vessels were packed with butter for their journey down the river – what a great means of keeping them intact, don’t you agree?
The ceiling in here was interesting too, and we were challenged to suggest the material from which it had been made. It wasn’t wood, nor was it plaster. Quite often in such circumstances, the answer is leather, but I imagined it to be way too fine for that to be correct. In the end, Hans Peter had to tell us: Papier mache!
Moving through the rooms, via the Sylvesterzimmer, a narrow room with a fireplace where lead would be melted on New Year’s Eve and dropped into water to form a shape, from which the future could be told. “You British read tea leaves. We have a slightly different method”. As we progressed, I scribbled notes, no longer attempting to draw those floor patterns though, for they were coming thick and fast and every one was different. The floor in Grand Duchess Augusta’s tea room above, was slightly different, however.
Hans Peter pointed out the slight variation in pattern, where the spot design is replaced by a cross. This marks the place where Augusta died.
We continued on the next floor, through the library with a secret passage behind the bookshelves.
Here, I lingered a little, to speak to one of the museum stewards about the jewellery in the case. An exquisite set of mourning jewellery, I asked about the material from which it was made. I couldn’t imagine it to be made of jet, so fine was it carved. Quite so, it was actually all made from iron – and incredibly beautiful. We remarked how contemporary the design appears too, and agreed, we’d both wear any piece of it today! Sadly the lighting made photographs difficult, so I only managed this single braclet – the earrings, brooches and necklaces were remarkable.
Whilst I’d been lingering and chatting, the group had moved on into the richly decorated Throne Room. High above our heads were panels depicting the major towns of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and of course, Schwerin itself was right there, centre stage right above the throne.
Here was the finest floor of all, needless to say.
Leaving the throne room, we found ourselves in the midst of the ancestors. Here were huge portraits of former Dukes, including Albrecht,
Oho, we were told to take note of the size of his feet for the richer the man, the bigger his feet!
We were also advised to take note of the pair of clippers dangling from his belt, used, we were told, to snip of the ears of anyone who might get in his way. Eeeeeuuwww.
What do you think of his knees, anyway?
On that note, we were more or less done with the castle. Hans Peter took us out through the room with pictures of the family homes here and there. In 1918, when the family were ousted from the castle after WW1, they’d had to make do with the rather less grand property they owned in Ludwigslust. As was noted, it was hardly slumming it…
And that was more or less it for the castle. We retraced our steps over the bridge and back to the edge of town where we had been dropped off earlier this morning.
We wandered past the fine state properties: the museum and the theatre and then past the government offices into the square.
We had a short time to explore Schwerin independently, then, so headed across the square to the cathedral.
We had just long enough to take a look inside.
A little musical concert was about to begin and a couple of recorder players were getting themselves tuned and ready, so we quietly walked around the outer perimeter of the lofty nave, heading first for the area behind the altar, beneath some fine stained glass windows.
Here, in a rather shabby area of the church, were two grand memorials.
They were commemorating the lives of two Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin: two of the people who had inhabited the castle we’d just viewed, in fact.
Though the actual tombs were grand, in a solid, Germanic style, the area itself was a little careworn. No flowers, no polish or candles, just a few broken stones and a rather watermarked floor. I felt a little sad about that.
A little further along was another tomb, I presume for another member of the family.
And more: I felt that surely the people who had built Schwerin deserved rather better.
Taking note of a couple of war memorials as we went, we made our way back to the huge doorway where we’d come in.
The recorder players were about to start their concert and we had to keep an eye on the time.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t pass a Niederegger Marzipan shop without popping in to make a small purchase, could we?
A short walk back through the small alley and we were back where we’d started.
The castle was well worth a visit and we’ll remember our morning in Schwerin fondly.
It was just about lunchtime too – maybe time for a little something?