Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Yusopov Palace, St Petersburg

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 1, 2012

No time tonight to do more than upload the photos, we’re off to the Museum of Russian Vodka for dinner!

I’ll come back to this later and tell you all the gossip about Rasputin…

Later, (the same night)

Ok, here’s what you need to know.  First of all the Yusopov Family was fabulously wealthy.  They had four palaces, one of which (lucky for them) was in the Crimea, and they just happened to be there when the Revolution broke out and so (unlike all the other aristocrats in St Petersburg) they were able to make their way into the safety of exile.  They were so fabulously wealthy that they had their own porcelain factory – not to make porcelain for sale, but solely for the purpose of making porcelain for themselves and as gifts for their friends.

Mama Yusopov (I forget her name) was star struck, but because of her rank she couldn’t go on the stage.  So they had their own little theatre and a royal box so royal that even the royals weren’t allowed to sit in it, only the Yusopov family.  While on a jaunt to Italy (or was it Spain?) Papa Yusopov admired a marble staircase that was just the thing for his palace, but the owner wouldn’t sell it because he was selling the estate.  No problem, said Papa Yusopov and bought the entire estate, just so that he could have the marble staircase…

However, while they had money aplenty, they were not especially gifted in the brains department.  Rasputin, the Russian peasant who had enormous influence over the Russian court got on their nerves a bit, so the younger generation of Yusopovs in 1916  decided to bump him off.  They invited him to a party, and poisoned him with cyanide.  This failed to kill him (possibly because of a counter-plot in the kitchen) so Prince Felix shot him and left him for dead.

But like a cat with nine lives, Rasputin wasn’t dead, and when Felix came back later to find his victim still obstinately living he shot him again three times.  He and his siblings then wrapped the body up in a bit of carpet with – you guessed it – the Yusopov coat of arms on it – and carted him off to the frozen Neva River.  Alas, they failed to sink him because the corpse stuck to the ice, and the body was found within 24 hours and the murder traced back to the perpetrators.

The Royals were peeved, especially the Tsarina who was convinced that Rasputin’s ‘cure’ for her son’s haemophilia was just the thing, but since the murderers were all relations, nothing much happened, just a brief exile, which (since the Revolution took place within 12 months) was kind-of irrelevant really….

Is any of this true?  Our guide said it was, so it must be, right?

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