Nobility estates are a remarkable phenomena not only in the Russian architecture but also in its culture. Historically these estates were developing not only as economic units but also as cultural centers. Churches, schools, medicine in the countryside were often built at the estates owners’ expence. Many great people in the history of Russia were obliged by their education and career to the eastates owners, the patronage and charity were not uncommon among the nobility. Thanks to their money paid as the tution fee peasants’ children became scientists, artists, actors, musicians... All is very important indeed and although far from everyone in the nobility class was generous and charitable their estates form an important part of Russian culture.
Muromtsevo estate commitioned at the end of the 19th century by Vladimir Khrapovistky, imperial guard colonel, is a quite rare architectural specimen for the central Russia designed by an architect Peter Boitsov. It is located in the village of Muromtsevo, Sudogda Distrct of vladimir Region, in 3 kilometres from Sudogda, 40 kilometres from Vladimir and 200 kilometres from Moscow.
This was a palace and garden ensemble occupying the territory of more then 40 hectares and combining the regular garden layout principles with the landscape layout ones in the architecture and landscape design. It also included a wide range of different buildings designed in the same style and intended not only for dwelling and rest but also for various garden, craft and industry as well as forestry activities. All in all there were 72 different buildings in this complex.
Now this estate includes 20 cultural heritage monuments. According to Russian Federation Presidential Decree № 176 of 20 February 1995 Khrapovistky’s estate of Muromtsevo is protected by the state as an architectural monument and cultural heritage site of the federal significance.
Count Vladimir Semenovich Khrapovitsky, Imperial Guard Hussar Regiment Colonel, became the owner of this estate in 1884. He rebuilt the estate according to his taste and latest fashion. from some his contemporaries’ accounts, when V.S. Khrapovitsky was travelling in France in 1880, he was fascinated by the medieval castles. To the French remark that there was nothing of the kind in Russia the count made a bet that he would build such a castle. a few years later he invited his French friends to the estate and showed them not just a castle but a sumptious palace in Gothic style with the garden and the cascade of ponds in it. Thus there appered this magnificent estate ensemble, even now stricking our imagination with its scope and amazing spacing freedom.
The new estate buildings design was created by Peotr Semenovich Boitsov, one of the best Moscow architects. In 1884 – 1889 in the estate centre he built the landlord’s house in medieval traditions. Its western part built in 1880s is a two- storied building the asymmetrical layout. the eastern part of the old building by means of a narrow pattern was connected with a four-storied addition built in 1906. One can judge about the palace size by the fact that there were 80 various rooms including private and reception rooms. There were marble fireplaces and bathrooms. The palace had lighting provided by 183 electric lamps, central heating, water supply and waste-water disposal systems.
In front the palace there was a unique cascade of ponds, stable yard, coach shed, hunting lodge, estate manager’s house which did not survive up to nowadays, wooden music pavilion and boat shed, boat landing place on the pond, water tower and cattle farm.
In the estate there was also a beautiful church with sumptuous architectural décor, numerous outbuildings, theatre, which was a miniature copy of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, musical school for talented orphaned children. the estate church is still well-preserved. It was built in Russian-Byzantine style and dedicated to Holy Martyr Empress Alexandra. The church was built during 4 years and was consecrated in 1899, on the day of St Prince Vladimir. Simultaneously with the construction of the church in Muromtsevo, St. George's Cathedral in Gus-Khrustalny commissioned Nechayev-Maltsev, the glass factory owner, was built and decorated. Hence there is a lot in common and in the architecture and icons of the two churches. The wall paintings and icons of the church in Muromtsevo were made by masters of Viktor Vasnetsov school. On the vaults of the church Evangelists were depicted, various ornaments decorated its walls. The church had a 3-tiered iconostasis in the second tier there were the images of St. Nicholas, St. Boris, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, St. George, St. Gleb, Sts.. Peter and Paul. In the third tier there were the icons of St.. Vladimir, St. Olga, St. Xenia, St. Helena, St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine. These were the images of the holy women that apparently were patronesses of the Khrapovitsky family. On the church bell tower there were 9 bells, the largest one weighed 121 poods.
In 1889 – 1885 not far from the estate designed by the architect P. S. Boitsov there was built a wooden building of the Khrapovitsky railway station together with the stationmaster’s house, a station storage shed, post and telegraph building, school, shop and public baths.
The majority of estate buildings were located in a vast garden whose area occupied more then 40 hectares. The estate garden entry road from Muromtsevo village and from the station road were united into a single avenue leading to the palace. The garden was decorated with sculptures and contained special garden furtiture. There were smoothly bending allies, spacious lawns with picturesque tree groups, sports grounds and even man-made brooks. Ponds lit with multicoloured lamps, fountains and water cascades surrounded by exotic vegetation still reinforced the impression of estate luxury and splendor.
The estate esemble also included a big orchard containing several thousands of fruit trees and shrubs. At the etrance to estate and in front of the palace there flower beds of intricate form. The esemble magnificence amased contemporaries and caused their admiration, they qualified V. S. Khrapovistky’s estate as a Tsar’s one. As to the estate layout scope there was nothing of the kind in the Russian nobility estate culture. All in all there were 72 different buldings totally estimated at 250810 rules, the most expensive of them being the castle valued at 150000 rubles.
estate history after 1917 was the period of its destruction and neglect. After the revolution of 1917 V. S. Khrapovitsky in order to preserve his estate from plundering and destruction and avoid the fate of numerous other Russian nobility estates subjected to looting after the revolution, made a full inventory of his property and voluntarily handed it over to the state. In 1918 the estate was nationalized. In 1920 the whole carriage of values weighing about 300 poods (4,914 kilograms) from the Muromtsevo estate was taken to the provincial history museum. During 1918, 1921, 1924 and up to 1927 a part of paintings and drawings from Khrapovitsky’s collections went to the funds of the Vladimir museum, a part of the palace and the theater furnishings turned out to be in Vladimir, Gus-Khrustalny and various Sudogda institutions.
After the Khrapovitskies were forced to leave Russia and went abroad (according to indirect evidence it happed in 1921), the estate was abandoned and empty. In 1921 the Forestry Institute, soon transformed into Forestry College with agronomic and forestry departments, was founded in the palace. Subsequent expansion of Muromtsevo village reduced the estate garden area 5 times, from 40 to almost 8 hectares. During 56 years when the Forestry College was located in the estate palace its building continued to be pillaged and rebuilt beyond recognition.
The late 1980s can be considered a turning point in the estate life, in 1977 college moved to a new building. After that the fate of the main estate building and surrounding outbuildings was sealed, they were actually orphaned and abandoned, the buildings looting resumed with a new force causing their deterioration and eventually crumble. Two subsequent fires in the main building completed their devastating; the building interiors were thing completely ruined. Now all the buildings of the former Khrapovitsky estame are almost abandoned, neglected and slowly decaying. Its restoration and revival prospects are not quite clear. There are numerous plans and projects, but everything depends on the lack of funding. And yet people want to believe that the financing problems will be resolved, and this remarkable estate will not share the sad fate of many Russian nobility estates and disappear forever from the face of the earth.
Выпуск журнала Владимирские Ведомости, 27 сентября 2012 года. Автор: Евгений гранкин, и.о. начальника Государственной инспекции по охране объектов культурного наследия.
Православие на земле Судогодской http://www.sudogda.ru/