Kórnik Castle is one of the most frequently visited historical buildings in Wielkopolska region. Two of Wielkopolska’s leading dynasties – the Górka family of the Łodzia coat of arms and the Działyński family of the Ogończyk coat of arms – are responsible for its existence and its splendour.
The castle was first mentioned in 1426 in a contract between the owner, Mikołaj Górka, and a carpenter working on it. The building comprises two defensive wings, is surrounded by a moat, and is accessible from the south via a drawbridge. Stanisław was the last owner connected to the Górka family. In 1574, he entertained King Henry III of France here. The Gothic building next to the north section was probably put up during his time.The next owner was Inowrocław Voivode Zygmunt Grudziński. He welcomed King Zygmunt III (Sigismund III Vasa) to Kórnik in 1623.
The Działyński family purchased the estate in 1676. Teofila Szołdrska (Teofila Potulicka after remarriage) became the owner of Kórnik in 1732 and converted the domicile into a baroque residence with a garden. Teofila can still be seen in the dining room portrait during the day and as the famous White Lady haunting the park at night. There was a building in which silkworms were bred and next to which mulberry trees were planted.
Tytus Działyński inherited the estate in 1826. He made the castle his family residence and the place of safekeeping for his library and militaria collection. In 1828, the eminent Berlin architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel completed a design to rebuild the castle in the neo-Gothic style. The Moorish Hall, the largest in the residence, was reserved for the book, militaria and art collections. The Ogończyk coat of arms of the Działyński family and the Jelita coat of arms of the Zamoyski family adorning the facade and interior made it clear who owned Kórnik Castle. The Ogończyk and Pogoń (or Czartoryski) coats of arms indicate the next hereditary owners. The coats of arms of prominent Polish families on the dining hall ceiling and above the staircase leading to the top floor serve as reminders of the castle’s former owners.
The Voivodeship coats of arms in the Moorish Hall recall the splendour of the Polish state prior to the partitions. The residential quarters are on the second floor. Tytus left the estate to his son Jan. Most of the Kórnik library was kept in specially adapted rooms in those days. He also installed a museum in the castle. The garden was reorganised after the romantic fashion and the plant nursery was expanded.
Władysław Zamoyski inherited the estate, along with all its chattels, in 1880 when Jan Działyński died without an heir. Władysław Zamoyski was forced to evacuate Kórnik in 1885. When he returned in 1920, he was persuaded that the estate and its priceless library should benefit society. He therefore set up the “Kórnik Foundation” prior to his death in 1924 and bequeathed it all his Zakopane and Kórnik properties in his will. The Foundation began administering Władysław Zamoyski’s bequest once it was ratified by the senate in 1925. Since 1952, the castle and library have been administered by the Polish Academy of Sciences (Kórnik Library).
The interiors and furniture of the Działyński era have all survived. Paintings include portraits of erstwhile owners and the valuable objects they once owned are on display – alongside the militaria – in the museum interiors.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.