Royal Scots Dragoons Present Another Gift to Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have honoured their former Colonel-in-Chief, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, by donating their late 1920s uniform boots to Tsarskoye Selo in September 2013.
The Scots DGs earlier added their modern Colonel’s field camouflage uniform to our collection which still suffers the lacunae inflicted by the 1917 revolution, sales of art objects in the 1920s-1930s and the German occupation of Tsarskoye Selo in 1941-44. Although the core of our military costume holdings was saved during World War II, a lot of items like shoulder and waist belts, shoulder boards, epaulettes, accoutrements and footwear, were lost.
Our Museum keeps a 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) Colonel’s uniform set that belonged to Tsar Nicholas II. The set includes dress, everyday and patrol uniforms, several headwear items, breeches, trousers, accoutrements, but unfortunately no footgear – until now!
We much appreciate the historical ties between Tsarkoye Selo and the Royal Scots Greys, which remain as good as a century ago thanks to the efforts of the regiment’s officers and personally Major RWB Robert Maclean, Curator of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in the Edinburgh Castle, UK.
For more information on Tsar Nicholas II and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, please refer to the following links;
Was Rasputin's Killer from the Midlands? Topic: Rasputin
Grigorii Rasputin and Oswald Raynor
The following article is from the October 20th, 2013 edition of The Birmingham Mail. The author Paul Cole owns the copyright presented below.
Historians believe Smethwick-born British agent Oswald Rayner wielded gun that fired fatal bullet
Popular myth has it that sinister Russian monk Rasputin was poisoned, beaten, shot several times by his rivals and finally drowned in the river.
Not so, say modern historians investigating the mysterious death of the mystic who had the Romanovs under his spell until his murder in 1916.
They believe he was shot dead by a British spy – from Smethwick , in Sandwell, just west of Birmingham
Experts say the fatal shot, from a Webley revolver, was fired by Oswald Rayner, a British Intelligence agent.
The near-supernatural stories spun by the authorities in the aftermath of Raputin’s were to hide Britain’s role in the killing.
“Of all the strange and unlikely claims you will hear, this is the unlikeliest of them all,” says Dr Chris Upton, Reader in Public History at Newman University, Birmingham. “That the man who killed Rasputin – the mad monk and guru of the Russian court – came from Smethwick.
“Yes, I hear you say, and Peter the Great once had a shop in Harborne. But suspend your disbelief and I’ll lay the evidence before you.
“It’s 1916, and the Great War is devouring nations and manpower across Europe. Lined up on the battlefield are the central powers of Germany and Austro-Hungary, and facing them the British, the French and the Russians.
“But Russia is on the point of political and economic meltdown, and its leaders split over its continued participation in the war.
“On the one side of this debate stands the Tsarina, with her reputed German sympathies; on the other men like Felix Yusupov, flamboyant businessman and nephew to the Tsar, and the Grand Duke Dimitri Romanov, who perhaps has ambitions to be Tsar himself.
“Neither the British nor the German governments could remain entirely impartial in all this. Should Tsar Nicholas pull out of the war, a third of a million Russian soldiers would be removed from the eastern front, tipping the balance towards the Central Powers.”
At the centre of this tangled web, says Dr Upton, was the man British Intelligence called ‘Dark Forces’, the Siberian mystic and faith-healer Grigori Rasputin, who had found favour at the top table.
His apparent ability to treat the Crown Prince Alexei for his haemophilia gave him extraordinary and unbridled influence with the Romanovs. It was said that Rasputin was chief among those who wished for peace with Germany.
“There was a queue of people, then – Russian as well as British – who would like to rid them of this turbulent priest,” says Dr Upton.
“All this might seem a far cry from the young boy who was born the son of a local draper in Soho Street, Smethwick, in 1888. But Oswald Rayner was a bright lad, and in 1907 he won a place at Oriel College, Oxford, to study modern languages.
“By the time he left university Oswald was highly proficient in French, German and Russian. He had also formed a close – some say homosexual – relationship with the same Felix Yusupov, who was at University College, and happened to be a member of the infamous Bullingdon Club.
“Rayner was initially called to the Bar, but his linguistic skills made him much more useful elsewhere, and in 1915 he was recruited by the Army and sent to Petrograd by MI6.
“Here, he teamed up with a little coterie of British agents, and was also able to renew acquaintances with his old chum, Yusupov.
“Here, too, Rayner would have heard of the plot to kill Rasputin. The monk was lured to Yusupov’s palace in St Petersburg on the night of December 29, 1916, and brutally murdered. According to the popular version of the story, Rasputin was poisoned, beaten, shot several times and finally drowned in the Nevka.
“The reality is that only two of these were correct –he was certainly beaten with a cosh and shot, and then his body dumped in the river. Unfortunately for the plotters, the river ice prevented the body’s disposal, and it was later recovered.
“The Tsar himself was convinced that British agents had a hand in Rasputin’s death, and told the British ambassador as much. Two recent books by Michael Smith and Richard Cullen have come to the same conclusion, arguing that Rayner’s link with Yusupov was the central pivot of the plot.
“Cullen argues that Rasputin’s post-mortem examination showed evidence of three gunshots, from three different firearms. And the final fatal shot, from a Webley revolver, was fired by Oswald Rayner himself.”
As Russia disintegrated into revolution, none of the perpetrators ever faced trial. Rayner continued to work for British Intelligence for the next few years, both in Russia and in Sweden.
And in 1927 the spy collaborated with Yusupov on the translation of his friend’s book, Rasputin: His Malign Influence and Assassination – which failed to mention British involvement.
Rayner went on to become Foreign Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and died in 1961 in the Oxfordshire town of Botley.
In 2009, the Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Monuments of History and Culture (KGIOP) in St. Petersburg held an auction, which resulted in the former Tsar’s Pavilion of the abandoned Imperial train station at Tsarskoye Selo being transferred in a long-term (49 years) lease to the Russian firm, LLC Samsara. Under the terms of KGIOP, the tenant agreed to conduct a technical examination of the building and begin restoration within 3 years. The restoration was to be completed by 2010 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo.
Four years later, the Samsara company has failed to comply with the terms of the lease. In a attempt to force the tenant to begin the restoration of the building, KGIOP filed a claim in court earlier this year. Samsara was charged with failure to fulfill contractual obligations, and fined 100 thousand Rubles. The court also ordered the company to carry out the restoration work which it had originally agreed to in the lease.
However, Samsara not only avoided paying the fine, because at the timing of litigation, but also failed to pay rent on the property. As a result KGIOP was forced to file charges for the second time in court last month with the same requirements.
This has now prompted local historians and preservation groups to act. Activists with the Russian web site Demokrator.ru have now began collecting signatures on a petition to the Governor of St. Petersburg urging the restoration of the Tsar’s Pavilion at Tsarskoye Selo. In addition, the groups want the historic building handed over to the state and adapted as a museum.
The group has proposed that the pavilion be used as a branch of the Railway Museum, or a museum dedicated to the last tsar and his family. They also note that many museums in the city complain about the lack of space for their exhibits, therefore noting the pavilion as a wonderful option for them.
The history of the Tsar’s Pavilion at Tsarskoye Selo began in 1895, when a wooden building was constructed for use as the Imperial Train Station. The station was part of a private line of the Tsarskoye Selo Railway which carried the Imperial train between Tsarskoye Selo and St. Petersburg. The train was considered a much faster means of transport to and from the capital while the tsar was in residence at the Alexander Palace.
In 1912, the wooden building was destroyed by fire, and in its place by the architect Vladimir Pokrovsky, with the participation of Mikhail Kurilko built a new pavilion in the Neo-Russian style. After the Revolution, the imperial rail line was demolished, the Soviets renamed the pavilion but the station began to gradually deteriorate.
During the Second World War, the building was badly damaged in the line of the German defences, the Imperial Hall suffering extensive damage. Attempts to restore the historic monument since the war have created meagre results. The Tsar’s Pavilion is an historical monument of federal importance and part of the nearby historic Fedorovsky Gorodok which is currently under restoration.
I have personally made several visits to the Tsar’s Pavilion over the years, and as recently as June of this year. Each visit brings greater despair and fading hope of its survival. The pavilion is surrounded by a poorly manufactured fence, one that has been broken into time and time again. Decades of neglect and the harsh elements have taken their toll on the facades and interiors. During one visit I actually entered the pavilion and was shocked at what I found: mould on the ceilings and walls, graffiti and garbage every where, even dirty old mattresses thrown in a corner, all clear evidence of this former grand pavilion now used by local drug addicts and the homeless. Many of the unique paintings by Mikhail Kurilko in the old Russian style have already been lost, the magnificent stone carvings on the facades have been eroded and broken off.
Some of Mikhail Kurilko's paintings have miraculously survived
We must not lose this unique architectural and artistic monument, one which is an integral part of the artistic ensemble of Tsarskoye Selo. Restoration must be done by professional craftsmen in order to restore and preserve the building’s historic appearance. The building must remain accessible to the public as a museum. Let us hope that the current legal action by KGIOP combined with the action taken by local activists will be loud enough that the Governor of St. Petersburg will step in to save this historic building.
Historians Meet at Tsarskoye Selo to Assess Russia's Role in World War I Topic: World War I
The Third International Academic Conference entitled The First World War, Versailles System and Contemporary World runs October 11-12 at Tsarskoye Selo. It focuses on Russia’s role in the war-time events.
The First International Academic Conference, The First World War, the Versailles System and the Present, was held at the St. Petersburg State University in 2009.
The current conference, organized by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, Russian Military & Historical Society, St. Petersburg State University, Russian Association of WWI Historians, and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Universal History, gathered over 100 historians from the largest Russian and foreign universities and research centers. The honorary guests and attendees include representatives of Tsarskoye Selo, Hermitage, Central WWII Museum and Russia’s Defense Ministry.
The conference will see a presentation of the first modern Russian WWI museum, Russia in the Great War, which is to open at the Martial Chamber of Tsarskoye Selo on August 1st, 2014.
For the first time in its history the Moscow Kremlin Museums exhibit such a great number of artifacts from the museum’s most valuable and significant collection of state regalia and other precious items related to Russian traditional coronation ceremonies and festivities carried out in the Moscow Kremlin from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin is composed of almost 400 historical relics of high artistic merit, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, the exhibition is intended to reveal the atmosphere of coronations and consecration ceremonies in Russia as well as to explore the evolution of these solemn rituals throughout several centuries.
The exposition incorporates two sections, those of the first one covers the consecrations of Russian tsars in the Moscow Rus in the 16th-17th centuries. The rite of anointing of tsar was regarded as one of the most important state official occasions in Russia. It involved several events and culminated in a highly-developed religious ceremonial in the Assumption Belfry, when the sovereign was crowned and invested with state regalia. This service invested the Tsars with political legitimacy; it was equally perceived as conferring a genuine spiritual benefit that bestowed divine authority upon the new sovereign. The section presents a full complex of the state regalia and ornaments, having been developed by the end of the 16th century and used during consecration ceremonies during the 17th century: the reliquary of the True Cross, the "barmy" (ceremonial collar), the crown or “cap” of Monomakh, the chain, scepter and orb. The exposition also includes other distinctive insignia and clothing worn at coronation, i.e. the throne of Boris Godunov, Cap of Monomakh of the Second set, belonged to Tsar Peter Alexeevich, his “platno” (tight-fitting kaftan) and pectoral cross. The exposed pieces of cutlery and dishware were used for serving a lavishly decorated table during sumptuous feasts, prepared on the occasion of the consecration.
The highlight of the second section, dedicated to eleven coronations of Russian Emperors during the 18th-19th centuries, is the new set of Russian regalia, which replaced the ancient tsars’ insignia after Peter the Great proclaimed himself Emperor of Russia in 1721 and declared the Russian Empire. The barmy was replaced with a new coronation mantle and the Cap of Monomakh - with one modelled on Western European-style crowns. The scepter and orb were still required for the coronation ceremony, which also involved a badge and chain of the highest Russian Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, the Banner of the State, the State seal and the Sword of the State. The exposition also includes coronation uniforms of every Russian Emperor from Peter I to Nicholas II, coronation mantles and huge baldachins (canopies) intended for coronation procession and decoration of the throne seat in the Assumption Belfry. Of special interest are the costumes of a coronation heralds, luxurious warders of Masters of Ceremonies, commemorative medals and badges.
Precious church utensils and vestments of the church hierarchs are also on display. Our visitors will admire processional sanctuary crosses, offered to monarchs at the Assumption cathedral’s door by the Orthodox prelates, the icons, venerated by them when entering the cathedral, items from liturgical set, used for receiving Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy.
The Tsar’s banquet, held in the Faceted Chamber at the conclusion of the coronation festivities, was furnished with every delicacy which could be procured; the precious ancient silverware was derived from the Armoury Chamber for setting tables. The famous porcelain service set, served at the coronation banquets of Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II is of special note.
The exhibition was preceded by laborious research and restoration works, having been carried out on many of the exposed items, which made the presentation of the relics possible.
The exhibition is accompanied by a two volume catalogue which explores the coronations and consecration ceremonies carried out in the Moscow Kremlin from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Volume I: 16th - 17th centuries, 140 pages and Volume II: 18th - 19th centuries, 372 pages. Text is in Russian with English summary and annotations.
The catalogue is richly illustrated, many of the items are published in detail for the first time. It presents outstanding masterpieces from the Moscow Kremlin funds of the 16th-19th centuries, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, as well as informative essays and articles on the history of coronation ceremonies in Russia throughout several centuries and peculiarities of solemn celebrations accompanying the Russian sovereigns' accession to the throne.
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin has been organized by: the Moscow Kremlin Museums with the participation of the State Hermitage, State Historical Museum, State Museum and Estate "Pavlovsk", State Archive of the Russian Federation, Russian State Archives of Ancient Documents, Russian State Library, Research Library of the Russian Academy of Arts, Russian State Archive of Documentary Films and Photographs, St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.
The exhibition runs until January 22nd, 2014 in the Assumption Belfry and the Patriarch's Palace of the Moscow Kremlin.
Six eyewitness accounts of the crowning of Russia's last tsar with more than 200 rare vintage photographs and illustrations.
The pomp and pageantry surrounding the Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II is told through the eye-witness accounts of six people who attended this historic event at Moscow, held over a three week period from May 6 to 26, 1896.
The authors came from all walks of life and different nations: Francis W. Grenfell and Mandell Creighton, Bishop of Peterborough (Great Britain); John A. Logan, Jr., Kate Koon Bovey and Richard Harding Davis (United States); and Boris Alexandrovich Engelgardt (Russia).
Historians have left us only brief descriptions of this historic event, but it is thanks to the authors of this unique book that we are grateful. They recorded their observations in diaries and letters, leaving to posterity a first-hand record that allows modern-day readers to relive the crowning of Russia’s last tsar and the splendour and opulence of a world that is gone forever.
These exceptional memoirs offer a wealth of information that include the preparations and events leading up to and during the coronation festivities, the tsar’s entry into Moscow, the procession to the cathedral, the crowning of the tsar and the celebrations that followed. No two memoirs are alike; each of the authors guides the reader through this historic event through his or her own eyes.
A collection of over 200 rare photographs and illustrations from the private archives of Royal Russia complement this book offering the largest collection of this historic event ever assembled in one volume.
Reflected Glory: the Romanovs, Wurttemberg and Europe Topic: Exhibitions
Five marriages, four generations, one story
At Stuttgart’s Old Castle, an imposing structure steeped in history, a special exhibition entitled Reflected Glory: the Romanovs, Württemberg and Europe tells the story of five legendary women whose marriages formed the basis of the extraordinary history shared by the House of Württemberg and the Russian Romanov dynasty. For the first time, an exhibition sheds light on the impact of these marriages on European politics, on the domestic and social policies of the two countries as well as on their respective courts.
The special relationship between the Romanovs and Württemberg began in 1776, when Württemberg Princess Sophie Dorothee married Russian Tsar Paul I. As Empress Maria Feodorovna, she was as actively involved in Russian charitable institutions as she was present on the stage of European power politics.
The ambitious Friederike Charlotte Marie of Wurttemberg, too, found her fortune in Russia. Under the name Elena Pavlovna, she fostered the cultural advancement of St. Petersburg and, amongst other activities, founded the Russian Red Cross.
Maria Feodorovna’s daughter Catherine and her granddaughter Olga, both remembered as noble-minded queens of Württemberg, took the hearts of the Württemberg population by storm. Even today, many local institutions continue to bear withness to their great social commitment.
The marriage of tempestuous Grand Duchess Vera Konstantinovna, Olga's adopted daughter, to Duke Eugen of Württemberg is a brilliant concluding chapter in the marital relations of the Russian and Württemberg royal families.
Selected art treasures from the Württemberg State Museum and high-profile Russian museums such as the Kremlin or the Pavlovsk and Peterhof imperial palaces reflect pomp, power, splendour and glory, but also homesickness, daily routine, faith and legend.
The exhibition runs from 5 October 2013 – 23 March 2014 at the Landesmuseum Württemberg, Altes Schloss in Stuttgart.
The Final Resting Place of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Topic: Sergei Alexandrovich GD
The remains of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Novospassky Monastery in Moscow
On February 17, 1905, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated near the Nikolsky Gate of the Moscow Kremlin. Unlike all the other grand dukes who were buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral St. Petersburg, his remains were buried in a crypt of the Chudov Monastery within the precincts of the Moscow Kremlin. On April 2, 1908, a memorial cross designed by Viktor Vasnetsov was erected on the spot where he was murdered. The cross was later destroyed by the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin himself on May 1, 1918.
The Chudov Monastery was demolished in 1930, to make way for the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet which was built on the site. The burial crypt of the Grand Duke was located in a courtyard of that building, which had been used as a parking lot. The crypt remained undisturbed for decades, when in 1986, building workers doing repairs in the Kremlin discovered the blocked up entrance of the burial vault. The coffin was opened and found to contain the Grand Duke’s remains, covered with the military greatcoat of the Kiev regiment, decorations, and an icon. He had left written instructions that he was to be buried in the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard regiment uniform, but as his body was so badly mutilated this proved impossible.
On September 17, 1995, the coffin was officially exhumed. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II held a Panikhida in the Cathedral of the Archangel of the Moscow Kremlin. The grand duke’s remains were then transferred and reburied in a vault of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. In 1999, a replica of the memorial cross destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 was erected on the grounds of the monastery. The new monument was created by D. Grishin, and the sculptor Nikolai Orlov and based on the original sketches by Viktor Vasnetsov.
A replica of Vasnetsov's memorial cross now stands on the grounds of the monastery marking the spot of the grand duke's crypt