1913: Franz Ferdinand shot near Worksop

Photo:Franz Ferdinand and his wife the Duchess Sophie

Franz Ferdinand and his wife the Duchess Sophie

Photo:Austro-Hungarian Ambassador Count Mensdorff

Austro-Hungarian Ambassador Count Mensdorff

de Laszlo 1908

Photo:Welbeck Abbey

Welbeck Abbey

Photo:St Mary's RC church, Worksop

St Mary's RC church, Worksop

Imperial Mass held here

A strange centenary

By Ralph Lloyd-Jones

One hundred years ago and just a few months before their assassination – the event that sparked the First World War – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg visited Nottinghamshire. Having arrived in London on November 15 1913 they stayed a week with King George V and Queen Mary at Windsor. On the 22nd they took a train to Worksop Station where they were met that evening by limousines which took them to Welbeck Abbey. Since it was a Saturday there were large crowds in the town who cheered the Imperial motorcade as it drove up Bridge Street and tree-lined Sparken Hill, then, as now, lovely in its autumn leaf. A very distinguished house-party were waiting with the Duke of Portland at the Abbey; guests including the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador (Count Mensdorff), Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Lord Curzon, the Marquis of Titchfield (the Portlands’ eldest son), Lord and Lady Salisbury, their children Lord Hugh and Lady Mary Cecil, and Arthur Balfour, ex-Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.


On Sunday 23rd Franz Ferdinand, Sophie, and other important Catholics including the Ambassador, attended Mass at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Worksop. Of course the real reason for their being there at that time of year was shooting, which the Archduke enjoyed at Clowne Hills, Clipstone and Gleadthorpe. The Imperial couple also made tourist visits to Sherwood Forest, Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Hall, staying at Welbeck until November 28th.


On July 4th 1914 the Mansfield and North Notts Advertiser ruefully recalled this visit after mentioning that


The Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Throne of Austria-Hungary, and his morganatic wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated on Sunday [June 28th] at Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, which was annexed by Austria a few years ago…


Less than a month later Britain was at war with Austria-Hungary and her Central Powers ally, Germany.

This page was added by Ralph Lloyd-Jones on 23/01/2013.

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