Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg

Exhibition marks centenary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's visit to Nottinghamshire

Posted on centenarynews.com on 16 November 2013
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Archduke Franz Ferdinand's name is forever linked with the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, but until now it's been almost totally forgotten that the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne came to England just months before his assassination.

The centenary of the Archduke's visit is being marked with an exhibition in the Nottinghamshire town of Worksop. Nearby is Welbeck Abbey where Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg, stayed as guests of the Duke of Portland for almost a week in November 1913.

Less than a year later, on June 28th 1914, the imperial couple were shot dead in Sarajevo, triggering the start of the First World War.

The Archduke's visit to the East Midlands of England is being recalled with an archive display of photographs and newspaper cuttings at Worksop library. The organisers are appealing for anyone with local photographs or other information about the First World War to get in touch.

Cheering crowds

Franz Ferdinand and his wife had spent a week with King George V and Queen Mary at Windsor before travelling to Worksop by train. Enthusiastic crowds lined the streets to greet them as they were driven in limousines to Welbeck, the Duke of Portland's country seat

Ralph Lloyd-Jones, Team Local Studies Librarian at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “To think that people who were cheering these imperial visitors as they drove through Worksop would a year later be involved in what became such a horrific world conflict where many onlookers in that crowd would be killed, maimed or widowed is truly shocking.

"No-one could have known what lay ahead, and we feel it is important to document it 100 years on.”

Many of the leading political figures of the day mingled at Welbeck during the Archduke's stay from November 22nd to 28th 1913. They included Arthur Balfour, former Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party; the former Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon; the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire; Lord and Lady Salisbury; and the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, Count Mensdorff.

“It is highly likely that as well as being a social visit to the UK, there will have been some diplomatic discussions taking place between those important people during that week at Welbeck Abbey as it was such a politically sensitive time across Europe," Mr Lloyd-Jones explained.

If you can contribute to the display please contact Helen Fox, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Team Librarian for local studies in the Bassetlaw area, via email at: helen.fox@nottscc.gov.uk

Images courtesy of the Our Nottinghamshire website

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News