Schloss Britz

The Schloss Britz (Britz castle) is the former manor-house of the historical Rittergut ( country estate) and village Britz, now a district of Berlin- Neukölln. Today it is the domicile of the cultural foundation Kulturstiftung Schloss Britz and includes in his originally reconstructed rooms from around 1880 a museum for interiors of the Gründerzeit. The manorial park is also well preserved with his mature trees and his 1890’s trails system. In 1997 the park was honoured with the German Gustav-Meyer-Price for the accuracy and historical authenticity of the reconstruction. The old farmyard with stables and smithy and the industrial section of the 19th century with a chimney of a brewery and some storehouses are preserved too and in the final phase of reconstruction and will provide space and rooms for further cultural institutions of Berlin-Neukölln in the future.

History
The village Britz is first mentioned in 1373 in the book (Landbuch) of the Mark Brandenburg properties of Kaiser Karl IV ( Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor). Until the end of the 17th century the country estate was the fiefdom of the knight family von Britzke. Due to the distributions of the estate and the devastating consequences of the Thirty Years' War the family was forced to sell the estate to the Prussian crown in 1699. The later king Friedrich I.( Frederick I of Prussia) benefits his minister Samuel von Chwalkowski with the manor. Around 1706 Chwalkowski finished the new manor stone house, which would be the core of the building until today. In 1717 the manor was given the prestigious allodial title. In the 18th century the Britz Manor (Schloss Britz) was in the property of Heinrich Rüdiger von Ilgen and the count Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg, beside other noble families. Ilgen owned the manor from 1719 until his death 1728 and served as minister for foreign affairs under different Prussian kings. From 1763 until 1791 Hertzberg was a leading minister of the crown cabinet and to the foreign affairs under Friedrich II. ( Frederick II of Prussia) and was using the estate from 1751 until his death as his country estate. He was not only establishing one of the first silk productions of Prussia in Britz, he ordered the historian painter Bernhard Rode to shape the manor-house with a hole new décor of frescos and paintings praising the live of a statesman as a landlord. In the 19th century the estate came into the property of civil fabricants. From 1824 until 1857 the Silk trader Johann Carl Jouanne was living with his family the year-round in the manor house and rebuilt the whole house after his requirements. Therefore nearly all of the older baroque décors were destroyed and only some paintings of Rode survived. Also around 1840 the buildings of the farmyard were given their present appearance in the style of Italian country mansions following the example of the Bornstedt Crown Estate(Krongut Bornstedt) near Potsdam. Under Jouanne the first brewery was built on the farmyard to produce hard liquor out of potatoes ( Kartoffelschnaps) which increased the agricultural commodities because of the draff and provide him an additional income. From 1880 to 1883 under the last private owner of the manor Wilhelm A. J. Wrede, a trader and producer of sugar and hard liquor, the manor house was given his final and today appearance as a little castle or château in the style of the Neo-Renaissance. The Berliner architect Carl Busse reshaped the house into a representative upper-class home with a new bath, stair tower and a magnificent new interior in the different styles of the German Historicism. These can be seen today in the rooms of the museum, also displaying furniture and objects of this time, like an original lincrusta wallpaper, which is rare in Germany and one of the few remaining Victorian crystal perpetual table fountains produced by J. DEFRIES & SONS in London . In 1924 the whole estate were sold to the city of Berlin. After World War II. the Schloss Britz served as a refugee house and from the fifties on as a children's home. In 1971 the manor house and later the park and the remaining farmyard buildings were declared as historic monuments and after the renovation from 1985 to 1988 the manor house was first opened to the public. From this time on the manor house was hosting many cultural events and served also as a guest house for the borough office of Neukölln.

The Park
The 1,8 hectares sized park of the manor stands out in his three hundred continuous history which can be seen still today in many details. In the beginning of the 18th century the park was one of the typical baroque parks, following the examples of the Netherlands which combines elements of a fruit and vegetable garden with that of a pleasure garden. His central alley of lime trees is still remaining. Like the manor-house the park was given his today appearance with the winding path system, exotic potted plants and a fountain in the last decade of the 19th century. Upon the mature tree population a Ginkgo tree has to be mentioned as one of the oldest ones in Germany, the tree was probably planted at the beginning of the 19th century. The visitor can find also in the park a bust of the former owner Heinrich Rüdiger von Ilgen. It is a copy of a sculpture which was made 1902 by Rudolf Siemering for the Siegesallee (Victory Avenue).

Milkmaid
There is also a bronze copy of a neo-classical sculpture made by Pavel Sokolov which he created originally in 1816 for the park of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, near Saint Petersburg. It is called The Milkmaid. The copy was donated in 1998 to Schloss Britz celebrating the anniversary of ten years in partnership between the Kulturstiftung Schloss Britz and the State Museums of Tsarskoye Selo. The sculpture of a moaning girl with a broken pot is the depiction of the end in the French fable Le pot àlait (The Milk Pan) from the 17th century writer Jean de La Fontaine. This fable was transferred into a German version Die Milchfrau (The Milkmaid) by the author Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim in the 18th century. The fable reflects upon the futility of daydreams without recognizing reality or the facts. A milkmaid was on the way to the market with a pot full of milk and making great plans for the money she would earn for the milk. Therefore she was lost in her own imaginations of future pleasures and fortunes that she missed a step and dropped the pot, which cracked on the ground and all the milk and future plans were perished, leaving her with nothing but moaning. In Germany this has became a common saying, known as the Milchmädchenrechnung for naïve and false conclusions.

Literatur

  • Matthias Barth: Herrenhäuser und Landsitze in Brandenburg und Berlin. Von der Renaissance bis zum Jugendstil. Würzburg 2008, S. 26-29. ISBN 978-3-87057-292-1
  • Anton F. Büsching: Beschreibung seiner Reise von Berlin über Potsdam nach Rekahn unweit Brandenburg, welche er vom 3. bis 8 Junius 1775 gethan hat. Frankfurt und Leipzig 1780.
  • Freunde und Förderer Schloss Britz e. V. (Hrsg.): 300 Jahre Schloss Britz. Ewald Friedrich Graf von Hertzberg und die Berliner Aufklärung. Berlin 2006. ISBN 978-3-00-018846-6.
  • Kulturstiftung Schloss Britz / Freunde und Förderer Schloss Britz e. V. (Hrsg.): Der Garten zu Britz. Seine Entwicklungsgeschichte von den Anfängen bis heute. Berlin 1998.
  • Friedrich Nicolai: Beschreibung der königlichen Residenzstädte Berlin und Potsdam, aller daselbst befindlicher Merkwürdigkeiten und der umliegenden Gegend. Berlin 1786.


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