Sunday, June 1, 2014

Schloss Söder

Surrounded by water on three sides, the castle complex of the Baroque-style Schloss Söder consists of three buildings, the actual castle as well as two large outbuildings flanking it to either side. The Schloss owns its existence to Jobst Edmund of Brabeck whose ancestors had been given another castle situated on the same site by a relative also by the same name of Jobst Edmund, who occupied the position of the Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim during the late 17th century. The small previous castle had been enfeoffed by the Bishopric to the Bortfeld family until they died out in male-line in 1686 and four years later the Brabecks took over.

In 1740 the younger Jobst Edmund of Brabeck had the old castle demolished and a new one built during the following two years. His descendant Baron (and later Count) Friedrich Moritz of Brabeck had the Schloss extensively altered and expanded according to his own needs. A well-known art connoisseur and collector, Baron Friedrich Moritz owned a collection featuring paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raffael, Rembrandt, Rubens and more and thus needed a imposing residence to exhibit them. With the construction of the gateway, a bridge as well as two corner pavilion in 1791, the works on the Schloss were finished though that very same year the lay-out of an English garden began.
Baron Friedrich Moritz's Baroque-style residence, which quickly became one of the cultural and intellectual centres of the Prince-Bishopric of Hildesheim, survives to this day though the ownership changed many times during the following centuries. Via Friedrich-Moritz's only surviving child and sole heiress Philippine, Schloss Söder came into the hands of the Stolberg-Stolberg family as she married Count Andreas of Stolberg-Stolberg, son of poet Count Friedrich Leopold, in 1817. Four years later Countess Philippine died and her widowed husband took possession of the castle.

A fire heavily damaged the castle in 1845 though it was rebuilt according to old plans by Count Andreas during the three following years. After already selling the famous art collection in 1859, the member of the Stolberg family sold the Schloss in 1863 to Jobst Ernst of Schwicheldt. In addition to the construction of the outbuildings and other changes to the courtyard, his grandson Curt of Schwicheldt had the interiors of the castle renovated and changed to suit the needs of a noble family in the first years of the 20th century.
Yet another noble family came into the possession of Schloss Söder when Curt of Schwicheldt's daughter-heir Sigrid married Count Eberhard of Hardenberg in 1922. These days the castle complex is owned by female-line descendants of Countess Sigrid and Count Eberhard and houses a stud farm. During the 1960's extensive renovations were once again done to the castle to keep it up-to-date (as much as that's possible anyway).

Good to know:
Schloss Söder, which is located in a teeny tiny village by the same name somewhere between Hildesheim and the Harz mountains, is privately owned and thus not accessible to the general public.

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