Looks familiar? Książ Castle launches hunt for relatives of former servants
Książ Castle has released a series of historic photographs of its staff from the turn of 20th century in an appeal to find their living relatives.
Announcing the appeal on social media on the 27th of May, Książ Castle posted: “We are looking for descendants of the castle staff! – Please share! If you recognise your relatives on any of the group photographs, please contact us.”
In the same post, the castle revealed that the process of identifying all the castle’s employees has been an ongoing for over 10 years, but had gained pace in 2016 when the castle received a collection of over 1,000 photographs of the castle’s staff from Canada, which were taken by head chef of the castle kitchen, Louis Hardouin.
Mateusz Mykytyszyn, press officer at Książ castle wrote on the castle’s social media: “On many of them, the talented culinary master has immortalised the daily life of the castle’s employees.
“Among the collection we can find several group photographs on which we can see butlers, chamber maids, gardeners, stable men and kitchen staff.”
Located in Wałbrzych in Lower Silesia, Książ Castle was built by Silesian Duke Bolko I Surowy (Bolko I the Strict) between 1288-1292. It later passed into the hands of Bohemian nobles and finally a wealthy German family, the Hochbergs.
Until 1945, the castle was known as Schloss Fürstenstein and its last owner was Welsh-born Mary Theresa Olivia Cornwallis-West, more popularly known as Daisy, Princess of Pless, first wife of Prince Hans Heinrich XV von Hochberg.
At the turn of the 20th century, around 500 people were employed in the ranks of the service personnel working for the Hochberg family.
The castle’s recent public appeal was also inspired by the story of 69-year-old Dorothea Huhn from Hannover, who recognised her grandmother on the cover of an album compiled from Hardouin’s photographs.
Sharing her story online, Huhn wrote: “My grandma’s name was Anna Biller. She came from Peilau (Piława). She spent her youth serving Prince Hans Heinrich XV and Princess Daisy, more specifically a luxury kitchen on their newly built fifth floor.
“I remember her excellent cooking and I inherited her recipes from my mother, including for Silesian crumb cake, (Streuselkuchen).”
Anna Biller left the service staff of Książ after her marriage in 1924. Two years earlier, Princess Daisy had got divorced from Hans Heinrich and left the castle to live in the south of France, though she returned to the castle later during WWII and died in Wałbrzych.
It was around this time in 1924, just before she left, that Anna Biller is believed to have received the present of a silver salt shaker from the royal table as a thank you for her service.
Huhn wrote: “It was a small, yet elegant item made from cut crystal and silver. My grandma received it as a farewell gift, when she was leaving the castle before her wedding with my grandfather from Freiburg (Świebodzice).”
Mateusz Mykytyszyn said: “The story of Anna Biller has inspired us to further search for the descendants of pre-war castle employees.”
To find out more about the appeal and to contact the castle, visit the Książ Castle Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KsiazWalbrzych