The 300th anniversary of the accession of Georg Ludwig of Hanover, Germany to the British throne as King George I is the perfect occasion for groups to discover the cultural connections between the two countries, and to visit Germany to explore the magnificent castles and towns where the royal families ruled, lived and socialised.
The Hanoverian accession to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland is being celebrated throughout 2014 with special events in London, including an exhibition at Buckingham Palace, and in castles and museums in the state of Lower Saxony, Germany. To help groups experience the celebrations in Germany, the Royal Heritage Route has been developed as a way to explore the region taking in the sumptuous royal palaces, castles and gardens at the same time. On the following pages you will find an overview of what’s taking place and why. Plus we include a fascinating ‘Who’s Who‘ introducing the Hanoverian Dynasty – George I George II, George III, George IV and William IV and their families, – with some quirky anecdotes bringing these historic monarchs to life, which is based on extensive research by Mark Goodwin, Managing Director of specialist tour operator Golden Compass.
HANOVER AND THE LOWER SAXONY STATE EXHIBITION 2014
The historic city of Hanover, where George I was born in 1660, is leading the celebrations and at the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, groups will discover one of Europe’s most beautiful baroque gardens. These are a good starting point for the Royal Heritage Route since King George I’s mother, Sophia, loved the gardens, which surrounded the summer home of first the Guelph and then the Hanover family, famously saying, ‘The garden is my life’. She supervised their design, which was inspired by the gardens of the Sun King, Louis XIV, with magnificent fountains and baroque ornamentation in the Great Garden, and many special areas including the English styled garden, the Georgengarten, and the Berggarten – with its displays of stunning orchids and tropical plants. During the summer of 2014 numerous artistic, cultural, theatrical and other events will take place within the gardens, where you can still easily imagine George I strolling around the paths.
As part of the 300th anniversary Herrenhausen Palace, which was destroyed in 1943, has been recreated and it now includes the Palace Museum. During 2014 the museum will be one of five venues – four in Hanover and one in the nearby town of Celle, taking part in a major historical-cultural state-wide exhibition organised by Lower Saxony entitled, ‘The Hanoverians on Britain’s Throne, 1714-1837’. The exhibitions in each venue take place from 17th May to 5th October, and each will showcase different details and elements of the Hanoverian-British union.
Spectacular works of art have been brought together for the exhibition at the Palace Museum, which focuses on the extravagant culture at the court in the early 18th century. The exhibition also explores the power politics of George I’s father – the Elector Ernst August – and tales of his marriage to Sophia of the Palatinate. Additionally, it will look at the early history of George I and reveal the secrets of his marriage to Sophie von der Pfalz.
Another part of the exhibition will trace the life of Count Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn who was the illegitimate son of George II. The Count was raised in England but moved to Hanover, where he established a collection of art and paintings. Many treasures from his original collection have been brought back together for the first time since 1818.
The main venue for the state exhibition, however, is the magnificent Lower Saxony State Museum in the centre of Hanover. Here the exhibition follows the life stories of the five monarchs within a cultural and historical context. Significant events such as the Seven Year’s War and the French Revolution, and influential personalities including Jonathan Swift and George Handel will be included. The intensive exchange of culture that took place between London and Hanover in many different areas from politics to music will be covered, such as the burgeoning splendour of the court in London, the founding of the University of Gottingen and the influence of English fashion in Hanover.
Paintings, medals, furniture, documents and letters, borrowed from 19 international museums, will be on display and these will help to build up a picture of life in Georgian times. Amongst these are the State Crown – made for George I, an oil painting of Queen Charlotte from the collection of Queen Elizabeth II and a valuable silver service, from the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, which is returning to Hanover for the first time in over a hundred years.
Another aspect of life in Georgian times is explored at the third exhibition venue – The Historical Museum of Hanover. The centrepiece of the display here will be a magnificent State Coach in the exhibit, ‘A Coach and two Kingdoms: Hanover and Great Britain 1814-1837’. King George IV used the imposing carriage, originally built in 1782, for the opening of Parliament in London, during a visit to Hanover in 1821.
The exhibition will reflect on the role of the Kingdom of Hanover, established in 1812, against the background of British world power and will cover political debate about the constitution and land reforms. Exhibits also are planned to reveal how the architecture of Hanover changed in the early 19th century to match its new status as a royal seat.
Elsewhere in Hanover, the Wilhelm Busch German Museum for Caricature and Drawing, will host an exhibition entitled ‘The House of Hanover at the Time of the Personal Union as reflected in British Caricature’. At the exhibition groups will learn how cynical caricaturists of the era satirized prominent figures and goings-on in British politics and society. The royals are depicted with all their human weaknesses, moreover the caricatures relate salacious British celebrity gossip, poke fun at political decisions and development and leave no scandal or intrigue untouched! These caricatures are important as they reached a wide public when they were first drawn and so had a role in shaping political opinion. The museum is housed in the Wallmoden Palace, the former home of the Count of Wallmoden.
The picturesque town of Celle, with its many half-timbered buildings, is about an hour’s drive north of Hanover, and it has an important place on the Royal Heritage Route.
The history of Celle, and its connections with the Hanoverian royal family is put in context at the Residenzmuseum in Celle Castle, in the exhibition, ‘Ready for the Island The House of Brunswick-Lüneburg on the Path to London’. This is the fifth venue participating in the Lower Saxony State Exhibition 2014 programme, and the exhibition traces the family’s rise to political power, through marriage and the creation of strongholds within Germany. The display presents a fascinating trip through time in a beautiful baroque castle with amazing architecture including ornate stucco ceilings by Italian masters, a Renaissance chapel and a tiny court theatre.
Whilst in Celle groups might also like to visit the local church, St Mary’s, where two royal women, who were banished to Celle for pursuing the course of love, are buried. Sophie Dorothea von Brunswick and Celle, the wife of George I, was exiled – first to Lauenau Castle and then to Ahlden Castle – after her love affair with the Count of Königsmarck was discovered. In all Sophie lived at Ahlden Castle for 32 years, and was permanently separated from her children. Her great-granddaughter – Caroline Mathilde of Hanover, who was Queen of Denmark and Norway for six years – is buried next to her. She was exiled to Celle following a love affair with the court physician. Groups visiting Celle as part of the Royal Heritage Route can discover more about these intriguing love stories.
Aside from the Lower Saxony State Exhibition there are many more castles and palaces with connections to the Hanoverian and British royal families to explore. Around an hour and half driving time to the west of Hanover is Iburg Castle near Osnabrück, where George I and his sister, Sophie Charlotte, who became the Queen of Prussia, spent a lot of their childhood. At the castle there’s much for groups to see including the Benedictine Abbey founded in the 11th century, and the richly furnished Knights Hall, which dates from the 17th century.
An hour away to the east of Hanover is Brunswick. This was one of the most important German medieval cities and in the 12th century was the home of the Guelph Duke, Henry the Lion, hence its popular name as the Lion City. Just outside the city and overlooking the Oker River lies Richmond Palace. This was built by Princess Augusta of Great Britain, who had married the Duke of Brunswick in 1764, because she did not like the family palace in the centre of the city. The building blends south German and French architectural styles with an English landscape garden created by ‘Capability’ Brown.
In Brunswick city centre, groups can also visit the Palace Museum, which is on the site of the original Royal Palace, which was built between 1833 and 1841, but damaged during the Second World War and subsequently demolished. Rebuilt in 2004 the façade uses elements preserved from the earlier building, but behind this there is a modern shopping mall as well as the museum. The 15 museum galleries reveal the grandeur of the former palace and are displayed with original furniture from the 19th century.
Although much of Brunswick was destroyed in the 1940s, there are several buildings surviving from earlier times, which convey the charm of the town when the Hanoverians were in residence. The two Courtyard Houses – Von Veltheimsches Haus and the Huneborstelsches Haus – were former courtiers’ houses.
THE WESER REGION
The fairy-tale like Marienburg Castle is about half an hour south of Hanover in Pattensen. Built in a gothic revival style with many battlements, towers and turrets, the castle is now a museum with magnificent rooms and an impressive library. Here groups can trace the life of Georg V, King of Hanover – who built the castle for his wife Queen Marie – and many examples of furniture, paintings and rarities of art history from the historic collection of the Royal House of Hanover are on display. In 2014, the Hanoverian crown, sceptre and bridal crown will be exhibited for the first time since the end of the Kingdom of Hanover in 1866 at the special exhibition ‘The Path to the Crown’. The stunning gardens around the castle can also be visited.
From Marienburg Castle, groups can go on to visit six more magnificent castles in the beautiful Weser region of Lower Saxony, all with royal connections and tales of courtly splendour. Fürstenberg Castle, Hämelschenburg Castle, Pyrmont Castle, Corvey Castle, Bückeburg Castle, Bevern Castle are architectural gems of the Weser Renaissance and neo-Gothic period and have important porcelain collections, works of art and lovely parks for groups to enjoy.
In other parts of Germany the royal story continues. In Heidelberg, in the south west state of Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg Palace was the first German home of Elizabeth Stuart – grandmother of George I. The ruins of this most romantic of German castles attracts many groups and amongst the highlights of a visit are the castle courtyard and the English Garden, which is soon to be restored. The impressive arch, the so called Elizabeth Gate, in the garden is said to have been built quietly and secretly overnight on the orders of her husband, the Elector Frederick V, as a surprise birthday present for her. Three times a year in June, July and September, illuminations bathe the castle in a magical red light. The spectacular evenings finish with a firework display – which were first staged in 1613 by Friedrich as a welcome to his bride, Elizabeth Stuart.
Meanwhile in Bavaria in Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the connections between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert can be explored. The highlight is Rosenau Palace, the summer seat of the Dukes of Coburg and where Prince Albert was born. As well as the impressive marble hall, the main rooms at the palace feature brightly coloured wall paintings in the neo-Gothic style and the original black-stained, polished Viennese Biedermeier furniture. Surrounding the palace is a delightful garden in a romantic English landscape style. When Queen Victoria visited the palace for the first time in 1845 she wrote in her diary, “If I were not who I am, my real home would be here”. She returned to visit several more times – even after Albert’s death.
Of the once numerous park buildings, the neo-Gothic farm building, a grotto with a waterfall and a tournament column have been preserved. The neoclassical tea house is today used as the park restaurant, and the orangery houses a museum of modern glass. The viewing terrace is particularly attractive with its flower parterre, fountain and balustrade.
To find out more about the Royal Heritage Route visit www.germany.travel/royalheritage or www.goldencompasstours.co.uk