Some places in the world have a special magic about them that touches all those privileged to have been there. Castle Ramholz is one such place. Nobody is better acquainted with such places than Christoph Freiherr Schenck zu Schweinsberg, who has turned his passion into a profession. GG met with the heritage expert for an interview…
When he talks about historic properties, be they palaces, castles, stately homes, or even cloisters and monuments, it is impossible to ignore the great fascination and passion that this gentleman holds for these heritage treasures. Christoph Freiherr Schenck zu Schweinsberg knows them all. Beyond the borders of Germany, he seeks out the most remarkable pearls, as he calls them, and showcases them in “Heritage” magazine, of which he is Editor-in-Chief. His German-language travel guide entitled “Schencks Schlösser & Gärten” also reflects his impressive wealth of knowledge in this specialist niche of the property sector. Ornate and vast in size in most cases, these homes are amongst the finest and most exclusive dwellings that the international real estate market has to offer. “No modern building can compete with a castle in the charm stakes,” Schenck asserts. For the majority of people it is the fulfilment of a long-harboured dream to live in a castle. This is not simply due to the fast that the acquisition of this kind of property is such a highly emotional one. A keen appreciation and consciousness of tradition is often an underlying motive. Though more than anything it is a desire to own one’s own slice of history with a palace or castle, and to lead the almost mythical lifestyle of lord and lady of the manor.
Situated in the historic country park of Ramholz, around one hour’s drive from Frankfurt in the German state of Hesse, Castle Ramholz is a testimony to such tradition. “The property is simply incredible,” Schenck enthuses. “If you were faced with building something like this today from scratch, it would be far too expensive to realise.” Castle Ramholz was built between 1893 and 1895 by the industrialist Hugo Freiherr von Stumm as an extension to the original castle of the Hutten family built in 1501. Today both building ventures form a beautiful ensemble – together with the mature trees in the approx. 15-hectare park, which von Stumm had planted according to the vision of the landscape architect Jens Person Lindahl. The architects and brothers Gabriel and Emanuel von Seidel, a famous architect duo at the time, designed the castle in the style of historicism, incorporating Renaissance, Baroque and Tudor influences. The property remains unaltered to this day and finds itself in superb condition, along with the other buildings on the land, which once served as a prime agricultural estate, including an orangery and nursery. The lower floor with its ornate reception hall and ballroom-like salons was used in the past for purely representative purposes. “Birthdays were not celebrated at a rented venue. An invitation was extended to one’s home. An opportunity to show people what one had. Extend an invitation. Host them as guests,” said Schenck. This has always been the highest form of social status: come and be my guest. Rather like Queen Elizabeth handles her affairs.
“If you receive an invitation from the Queen, the standards presided over by her dictate that you will receive the very best service as her guest. Your suitcase is taken and unpacked for you, then packed again on your departure. There is no such thing as dirty laundry as it is washed immediately. Even if your visit lasts for just 24 hours, you will receive a clean suitcase back with every item of clothing wrapped in silk paper and adorned with the coat of arms of the Queen. So quickly and discretely you will not even notice. That is the Queen’s standard.” It is the highest level of hospitality. “And homes like Castle Ramholz have been designed precisely for this purpose. To host and represent guests at this standard,” Schenck emphasises.
The artistic sensibility of past inhabitants is omnipresent inside Castle Ramholz: there is hardly a wall in sight that has not been hung with a mesmerising painting by a greater or lesser known artist, there are historic fireplaces that originated in Italian Renaissance palaces, and no end of treasured rarities such as wooden doors and tiled stoves. Priceless antiques seem to have found their way into the castle from all manner of places. Irreplaceable pictorials, books, photos and personal mementos can be found in abundance – all testaments to eventful lives that have played out within these historic walls. “Everywhere you look, you get the impression that this place has fallen into a kind of magical slumber,” Schenck remarks. Entering through into the beautiful library, for instance, which
What makes this castle special? Its most remarkable hallmark is surely the diverse historicist mix of style epochs, with rare treasures from other stately homes, castles and palaces gracing its interiors. There is also always another little hidden tower room, bedroom or study to be found around the next corner. The former owner installed lots of little desk areas so he could work from almost anywhere the fancy took him. He had desks that he used for his filing and administration, desks he used for drawing and desks he just used to sit at and think. Creative minds can really give their imagination free reign in this home.iques seem to have found their way into the castle from all manner of places. Irreplaceable pictorials, books, photos and personal mementos can be found in abundance – all testaments to eventful lives that have played out within these historic walls. “Everywhere you look, you get the impression that this place has fallen into a kind of magical slumber,” Schenck remarks. Entering through into the beautiful library, for instance, which was originally designed by a French craftsman, one gets a sense that someone has just left their quill and ink next to their letter paper and risen from the antique desk. In reality, of course, this scenario last took place many moons ago… Each room leads on to the next here in almost endless succession, taking people on a journey through different architectural and style eras. There is always another little room to be found, lovingly furnished from the sewas originally designed by a French craftsman, one gets a sense that someone has just left their quill and ink next to their letter paper and risen from the antique desk. In reality, of course, this scenario last took place many moons ago… Each room leads on to the next here in almost endless succession, taking people on a journey through different architectural and style eras. There is always another little room to be found, lovingly furnished from the selection of the precious threaded wallpaper to the delicate bedside table lights. The so-called white, red and grand halls that grace the first floor, along with the “Muschelsaal” or “Shell Hall”, feature precious marble, elaborate ceiling stuccowork, wooden paneling and tasteful parquet floors. The decorative vaulted and coffered ceilings both in the hallways and in the dining room alone exude an enchanting flair reminiscent of the atmosphere that pervades in a Harry Potter film. Within these hallowed rooms, the future lord or lady of the manor will certain feel a sense of authenticity as they embrace all the joys of their magnificent new home.