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The Linn Castle

On the outskirts of Krefeld is the moated castle Burg Linn, which formerly belonged to the Elector of Cologne. It is one of the oldest castles in the Lower Rhine area. Parts of it date back to the 12th century. Most of what can be seen today is from the 13th century. Only the windows, the south wing and the low outer parapet are 15th and 16th century.

Destroyed in 1704 during the Spanish war of succession, the castle was a ruin for over 200 years until 1926, when the City of Krefeld bought it, along with the 18th century building known as the hunting lodge. This building in the castle courtyard was used as a bakery and brewery in the Middle Ages. After the Second World War the castle was carefully restored and many of the rooms furnished. With its towers, battlements, keep, dungeon, great hall, chapel, a perfectly intact courtyard, and the wide moat surrounding it, it gives a true picture of a medieval castle.

The hunting lodge has a number of rooms depicting middle-class life in Krefeld in the 18th and 19th century, a fully equipped Lower Rhine farmhouse kitchen and a collection of historical mechanical musical instruments.

The Niederrheinische Landschaftsmuseum [Lower Rhine museum of local history] lies to the north of the castle, at the entrance to Linn. The history of this building is quite unique: it was erected as an air-raid shelter during the last war, but planned with the intention of using it as a museum later on. It has exhibits on prehistoric times and ancient history, with special emphasis on finds from the Roman fort Gelduba (at Krefeld-Gellep) and the surrounding ancient Roman and Frankish burial grounds, which are the most extensive in Europe. Other themes include the history of towns and castles in the Lower Rhine area, and local cultural history.

The museum is situated in the well-preserved medieval part of Linn, which was formerly a small town in the possession of the Elector of Cologne. Around the castle and museum is an extensive park incorporating some of the ditches and bulwarks of former fortifications. The park was designed in the 19th century by Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe, when the castle and hunting lodge were still privately owned.

 

Records from the administration of Linn from 1707/08 inform us of considerable building projects in the castle courtyard: a stable and the old bakery and brewery were being converted into a house to be used as the seat of the Elector of Cologne's steward, and a barn. Around 1740 Elector Clemens August had the building made into a hunting lodge for his rare visits to Linn. After leasing the Linn and Oppum hunting-grounds to the communities under the administration of Linn in 1771, the Elector will rarely have stayed in Linn. When the French arrived in 1794, this building was occupied by the chief steward of Linn, von Otten, and was known as the "chief steward's house".

In 1806 the Krefeld merchant Isaac de Greiff purchased Linn castle, including the hunting lodge. One of his sons, Philipp de Greiff, later came to live here with his family.

Marianne Rhodius, daughter of Philipp de Greiff and Marianne ter Meer, was born in 1814. In 1835 she married the wine merchant Christoph Eduard Rhodius from Cologne, but returned to her father's house in Linn around 1850, spending most of the year at the hunting lodge, where she and her sister Emma had grown up. Following her father's death in 1862 she inherited his estate. She was also heir to her uncle Cornelius de Greiff, who died in 1863. Her substantial estate consisted of Linn castle, the hunting lodge, three farms (Drenker, Hausen and Mühlenhof) in Linn, the In der Elt land and properties, and Greiffenhorst House. When Marianne Rhodius died in 1902, she left the City of Krefeld the greater part of her capital assets, which amounted to 1.8 million marks. Her cousin Maria Schelleckes inherited her estate in Linn.

After the First World War, the barrister Gustav Schelleckes, co-heir and co-administrator of Marianne Rhodius' estate, moved into the hunting lodge at Linn castle. In 1924 he sold the entire property to the City of Krefeld for 506,000 marks, but continued to occupy the hunting lodge until his death in 1928. From then on, plans were made to turn it into a museum. In 1929 the city council under Lord Mayor Johansen passed a resolution providing 18,500 Reichsmarks for converting the house into a museum. Professor Dr Karl Rembert was appointed director of the new museum. It was opened on 28 May 1930, along with the "Hall of Honour", a memorial to the fallen of the First World War. In 1938 the museum was officially renamed "Krefelder Stadtmuseum Burg Linn" [Linn Castle Municipal Museum of Krefeld].

Today, the contents of the hunting lodge present a cross-section of middle-class life in the 18th and 19th century. In addition to the many items of furniture to be seen in the various rooms, there are also portraits of the Electors of Cologne and citizens of Krefeld, reflecting more than 200 years of history of the city and its bourgeoisie.

The so-called "Marianne Rhodius Room", with its stucco ceiling decorated with a frieze of acorns and the Neo-Gothic wall-paintings from c. 1850, is now a popular venue for wedding ceremonies. The hunting lodge kitchen with its big open fireplace and the many historical items is also well worth a visit.

The collection of mechanical musical instruments, also housed in one of the rooms of the hunting lodge, is doubtless one of the greatest attractions. The oldest instrument is a musical clock, made in the Black Forest around 1805. There are also several musical boxes, some operated by cylinders, others by flat metal plates, which were popular in the 1880s. Another special attraction is a public house slot-machine - a sort of early juke-box - made by a company called Symphonion around 1890, which works on the same principle as a musical box. The collection also includes automatic pianos, such as the "piano with violin and flute register", made in 1912. The star of the collection however is "Clarabella", a ballroom orchestrion made by Messrs Popper in 1918. Piano, kettledrum, side drum, cymbals, metallophone, triangle and xylophone can all play simultaneously. The mechanical musical instruments are demonstrated every Sunday morning.