The Villa Wahnfried in Bayreuth

November 28th, 2015 | General | No Comments »

© Dickbauch~commonswiki/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Dickbauch~commonswiki/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wahnfried was the name given by Richard Wagner to his villa in Bayreuth. The name is a German compound of Wahn (delusion, madness) and Fried(e), (peace, freedom). According to Richard Wagner’s wife Cosima the name came to mind after visiting the picturesque town of Wahnfried in Hesse.

The house was constructed from 1872 to 1874 under Carl Wölfel’s supervision after plans from Berlin architect Wilhelm Neumann, the plans being altered according to some ideas of Wagner. The front of the house shows Wagner’s motto “Hier wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand – Wahnfried – sei dieses Haus von mir benannt.” (“Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.“)

In 1894, Siegfried Wagner converted the eastern outbuilding in the manner of a small villa in Italian-like neo-Renaissance style for his own house, which was expanded by a low-rise building on the north side in 1932 by Hans Reissinger and was joined by a connecting wing on the southwest side of Wahnfried. After Siegfried Wagner’s death on 4 August 1930, it served his widow Winifred as a guest house for, among others, Arturo Toscanini (1931) and Richard Strauss (1933-34). In 1957 Winifred Wagner moved to Siegfried Wagner House and lived there until her death in 1980. Today, it houses the administrative offices of Richard Wagner Archives and Library.

The grave of Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima lies on the grounds of Wahnfried. The house has been a museum since 1976. Visitors can take a walk in the remote Hofgarten, the baroque park of Bayreuth’s New Castle, to where a path directly leads. From 2012, the museum was expanded and remodeled, reopened in July 2015 after a three-year closure. It includes the Villa Wahnfried, the Siegfried Wagner House and a new built building by the Berlin architect Volker Staab.

Read more on Richard Wagner Museum and Wikipedia Villa Wahnfried. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

Hatfield House in Hertfordshire

November 25th, 2015 | General | No Comments »

© - Allan Engelhardt/cc-by-sa-2.0

© – Allan Engelhardt/cc-by-sa-2.0

Hatfield House is a country house set in a large park, the Great Park, on the eastern side of the town of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. The present Jacobean house, a leading example of the prodigy house, was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to King James I and has been the home of the Cecil family ever since. It is a prime example of Jacobean architecture. The estate includes extensive grounds and surviving parts of an earlier palace. The house, currently the home of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, is open to the public.

Hatfield House is a popular tourist attraction because it has so many objects associated with Queen Elizabeth I, including some gloves and a pair of silk stockings that are believed to have been the first ones in England. The library displays a 22 feet (6.7 m) long illuminated parchment roll showing the pedigree of the Queen with ancestors back to Adam and Eve. The Marble Hall holds the Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth. The State Rooms house many important paintings, furniture, tapestries and armour. The richly carved wooden Grand Staircase and the rare stained glass window in the private chapel are among the house’s original Jacobean features.

The Gardens, covering 42 acres (170,000 m²), date from the early 17th century, and were laid out by John Tradescant the elder. Tradescant visited Europe and brought back trees and plants that had never previously been grown in England. The gardens included orchards, fountains, scented plants, water parterres, terraces, herb gardens and a foot maze. They were neglected in the 18th century, but restoration began in Victorian times and continues under the present Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury.

The State Rooms can be seen in the midweek guided tours, and visitors can look around in their own time at weekends. On Friday, the Garden Connoisseur’s Day, the House is open for guided tours and for pre-booked specialist groups. There is also five miles of marked trails.

Read more on Hatfield House, Hatfield House Hospitality and Wikipedia Hatfield House. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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