Friday, October 2, 2009

Grand Duke Michael leases new home

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 October 2, 1909

Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia has a new home, according to the Marquise de Fontenoy's latest column. The Grand Duke, who was forced into exile from Russia because of his morganatic married to Countess Sophie de Torby, a granddaughter of the poet Pushkin, has signed a ninety-nine years lease on Kenwood, which is owned by the Earl of Mansfield.

The Grand Duke has already "initiated a series of extensive and costly alterations, with a view to transforming [Kenwood] into his permanent and principal home."

Kenwood House overlooks Hampstead Heath and is situated between Hampstead and Highgate.

Grand Duke Michael knows that his wife will be not welcome at the Russian Court, even though her own father is a prince of Nassau.

The Grand Duke continues to receive the income from his estates in Russia, and lives a very comfortable existence in England.

The Countess "is accustomed to life in London, at the great country houses in England, at Wiesbaden, in the late summer, and at her villa in Cannes in the winter." Sophie is "extremely worldly and fashionable."

Until recently, the Grand Duke had been renting Keele Hall in North Staffordshire, the home of Ralph Sneyde. Keele Hall is too far from London, which is a disadvantage for the very popular couple. The Countess "loves society, and is always anxious to have people about her."

By motor car, Kenwood is about thirty minutes to Piccadilly. The countess' friends will be able to call her and she will be able to visit friends at their London homes.

The Grand Duke and the Countess have three children: Count Michael, Countess Zia and Countess Nada.

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