Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => Their World and Culture => Topic started by: Learning on July 14, 2008, 12:04:56 PM

Title: Moving House?
Post by: Learning on July 14, 2008, 12:04:56 PM
This question could apply to any royal or wealthy family that has multiple houses or palaces. Do they take everything with them when they move? I mean what if Nicholas was at the Alexander Palace and wanted a particular book? Would the libraries of the Alexander Palace, Peterhof, the Winter Palace, etc all have the same holdings? Would he have kept complete wardrobes at every palace? How much stuff follows the family around?
Title: Re: Moving House?
Post by: Valmont on July 15, 2008, 10:30:39 AM
Good question, As far as I know there were an inventory of "common" items in every palace. I remember seeing a picture of a cross that belonged to Empress Alexandra from the inventory at Peterhoff, so I guess it would have been as same as when you go on vacation, bringing alone the clothes you wanted to wear, your personal items and in the Empress case, the jewelry she intended to wear during the trip. In the case of the book, I do not know, maybe someone else has more knowledge on this matter.

Arturo Vega-Llausás
Title: Re: Moving House?
Post by: Windsor on July 15, 2008, 12:31:02 PM
Interesting topic!  I have often wondered why, as often reported, royalty would have to take so many household items (e.g. linens, glassware, etc.) from residence to residence.  My simple logic would be that if you are as wealthy as say the Tsar, all of your homes would be completely outfitted so that you would basically just have to show up with your clothes - if that!
Title: Re: Moving House?
Post by: CHRISinUSA on July 15, 2008, 02:48:54 PM
(Summarized from another location on the forum.)

In the past, a Royal Court moving between palaces served many purposes.  It allowed the monarch to escape to the country, and to see and be seen by a wide range of his/her subjects.  But also it was for reasons of sanitation.  In the 18th century, for example, there was no indoor plumbing in the royal and imperail palaces of Europe, and after a few months of occupation by the entire Court and their attendants made the building almost uninhabitable.  The Court would then move to a new residence, allowing the last one to be refreshened and cleaned, ready for the next arrival of the Court.

Prior to the reign of Catherine II, the Tsars actually had precious little furniture, although what they did have was very expensive and high quality.  The Imperial Family travelled from palace to palace with priceless pieces of inlaid marquetry and gilt silk-covered furniture in tow. Catherine II purchased a great deal of furniture, encouraging foreign furniture manufacturers to bring enormous quantities for her review and acquisition.

By 1900 when Nicholas II and his family traveled to a new palace they mostly carried personal items.  Nicholas II's desk items and personal toiletries went with him.  Alexandra's maids packed up her favorite books, knick-knacks and icons. her jewels went too along with a select group of her FabergĂ© collection. The Empress's clothes all went as well along with all of her children's things. Adding to the the caravan were the Imperial pets and all of the things needed to care for them.

On the day of departure maids and valets would have eveything packed up in crates and wicker hampers. They would be loaded onto wagons and taken to the next destination. While the Imperial family was a breakfast the wagons had already left. When they arrived at their destination everything was quickly put in its exact place. Everything had its location. Valets and maids had diagrams to show them where each item was supposed to go. Finally, when the Tsar and his family arrived all was ready and waiting for them.

This remained a slow process until the Tsar made the purchase of motor trucks to carry everything around 1910.

Title: Re: Moving House?
Post by: Learning on July 16, 2008, 10:29:51 AM
Thanks. This is very interesting. I suppose the Windsors do something similar today.