Mr Stewart and the Romanovs Topic: Alexander Mikhailovich, GD
Peter Rogers holds a copy of his booklet, "Mr Stewart and the Romanovs" recently published
by the Stewart Museum, Burnby Hall Gardens and Museum, Pocklington in Great Britain
The following article was originally published in the March 6th, 2014 edition of The Driffield Times & Post, who own the copyright presented below.
On Saturday 29 March at 4 pm, Peter Rogers from the Stewart Museum, Burnby Hall Gardens will be giving a talk on the life of Herbert Stewart, who was tutor to the children of the Tsar of Russia’s sister between 1908 and 1917 in the years before the Russian Revolution.
The presentation at Hutton Cranswick Methodist Church will highlight research recently completed by him which has resulted in the discovery of 22 of Herbert Stewart’s photograph albums from the period at the National Media Museum at Bradford. Peter will show a number of these photographs as part of the presentation, many of which have not been seen before by the general public (courtesy of the NMM).
This talk will be given in aid of Hutton Cranswick Chapel funds and will cost £3. Light refreshments will be provided.
In March 1917, Herbert Stewart began writing a short series of diary entries that provide an eye-witness account of the early days of the Russian Revolution in Petrograd. At first-hand, he saw how order broke down, how attempts were made to restore it, and the ultimate fall of the Romanov dynasty which had ruled the country for over 300 years.
From July 1908, Herbert Stewart had lived and worked in Russia as an English tutor, where he was employed by the Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch, brother-in-law of Tsar Nicholas II.
Herbert Stewart was born in 1866 and was elder brother of Major Percy Marlborough Stewart, the owner of Burnby Hall at Pocklington. A gifted academic, he became a tutor.
His charges were the sons of Grand Duke Alexander and his wife Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, sister of Tsar Nicholas II. The Grand Duke had met Herbert in Biarritz a number of years earlier and had taken a liking to him. He told him that when he had sons he would invite him to become their tutor. He kept his promise.
There were six boys: Princes Andrei, Feodor, Nikita, Dmitri, Rostislav and Vasili.
Herbert Stewart's diary. Photo: Stewart Museum, Pocklington
They had an elder sister, Princess Irena, who, in February 1914, married Prince Felix Youssoupov, best known as one of the assassins of Grigory Rasputin.
Living as part of their household in their palace in Petrograd, and on the family estate at Ai-Todor in the Crimea, Herbert Stewart was in a unique position to photograph one of the highest ranking aristocratic families in pre-revolutionary Russia.
His intimate family portraits record family picnics, hunting trips, horse riding, fishing, swimming, sledging, and visits by relatives and friends. They also include informal shots of Tsar Nicholas II and his children, with whom the Grand Duke’s family had regular contact.
It is hard not to look at these photographs and reflect on the fact that within a few short years the carefree lives depicted in so many of them would be gone forever, swept away in the cataclysmic events of the Russian Revolution.
Twenty-two albums of Herbert Stewart photographs were preserved and are now housed in the National Media Museum, Bradford. They are still kept in a large wooden Harrods box owned by him.
The sons of Grand Duke Alexander appear to have been very fond of Herbert Stewart. He seems to have been rather eccentric. In one recorded episode, it is recorded that he was in the habit of sleeping with the window open and an electric blanket turned on. He considered giving one of these to the Tsarina but, after his own caught fire, decided against it!
In the autumn of 1916, Herbert Stewart’s photographic record ends, and there is a gap until Thursday 8th of March 1917, when he begins writing a short diary, perhaps realising that he is witnessing an important historical event from a unique perspective.
The diary is now in the Stewart Museum at Burnby Hall Gardens, Pocklington. This selection of entries illustrates the momentous events taking place and hints at how these were closely impacting upon Grand Duke Alexander’s family:
Monday March 12th - “Much shooting and many disturbances in the streets. Some regiments joined the revolutionaries. Officers walking were disarmed. Prison opened. Police stations attacked. Prison close to the Palace attacked by large crowds – much shooting all round. Palace guarded till evening when guard removed… Much uncertainty about everything…”
Thursday March 15th - “Streets more or less quiet – constantly patrolled by motors...Soldiers took all guns and ammunition from the palace including sporting weapons. Not altogether unlikely that they were simple thieves as they stole boots and other things as well…”
Sunday March 18th – “…Many people in streets and processions headed by red flags going to Duma with various demands. One asking for division of crown lands. Saw no disturbances. More istvostchiks and sleighs about today. Prayer in church for governing powers of Russia. Heard that the Empress Maria had gone to her son. Our palace is guarded by sailors now, night and day”.
Grand Duchess Xenia, along with her husband and their children, all avoided the terrible fate that befell her brother the Tsar and his family. They all escaped the Russian Revolution, the majority of them on the British battleship HMS Marlborough in April 1919.
They subsequently settled as exiles in England, France and the United States of America.
Herbert Stewart largely lived abroad for the remainder of his life, residing in Navareux in the Basse-Pyrenees. His niece Margaret Revell recalls last seeing him on a visit to England in 1957, although by that time he was unwell.
He died in 1960.
For more information on Herbert Stewart, his diary, and the newly discovered photographs of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna and their children, please refer to the following link;
Monument to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Topic: Alexander Mikhailovich, GD
A monument to the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933) was unveiled this week at the Krestovsky Yacht Club in St. Petersburg. The ceremony was attended by Prince Dmitry Romanovich (born 1926).
The grand duke is remembered for his outstanding service to Russia's army, navy and air force during the Tsarist years. Alexander or "Sandro" as he was known to members of the Russian Imperial family, also served as patron for the sailing school on the banks of the Maly Neva 125 years ago.
Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich married the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (eldest daughter of Emperor Alexander III, and sister to Emperor Nicholas II) on 6th August [O.S. 25th July], 1894. He was one of the few grand dukes to have escaped the Red Terror in which many members of the Romanov family were murdered by the Bolsheviks.
During his years in exile in Paris, Alexander penned his memoirs in two volumes, as well as other books on royalty.
The monument was created by the famous Russian sculptor, Albert Charkin, and shows the grand duke looking out onto the Gulf of Finland.
For more information about this monument, please refer to the following article and video posted on 23rd March, 2012;
Bust of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 5 minutes, 37 seconds. Topic: Alexander Mikhailovich, GD
A new bust of the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich is being created by sculptor, Albert Charkin.
Grand Duke Alexander, was the son of the Grand Duke Mikhail Nicholayevich and Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna. In 1894, he married the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, eldest daughter of the Emperor Alexander III and the Empress Maria Feodorovna. The couple had seven children, many of whose descendants are alive today. Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich is known for his memoirs, Once a Grand Duke (1932) and Always a Grand Duke (1935).
The famous St. Petersburg artist has always had an interest in Russian history, particularly those individuals who devoted themselves in the name of the Fatherland.
He has already created a version of the bust in clay, and will now proceed with a bronze copy. Once completed, the bronze bust will be housed at the St. Petersburg Sailing Club. According to archival sources, the grand duke was a trustee of the yacht club in the late 19th century.