This is a house in
This is the garden:
I bet you can't guess what the plaque says:
It says that Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, plus his wife, (Sissi, much beloved of most small girls in Austria), came to visit the owner, who was eight years old.
The owner's name was Christina Wenckheim and she happened to be one of the richest people around at the time. The story that one of her descendants told me about her and how she gained her wealth reminded me of the anecdote about Franco I read somewhere, in which Franco, on his death bed, hears the sound of crowds gathering outside his windows. 'What is that I can hear?' he asks his servants. 'It's the people', they tell him, 'coming to say goodbye.; Franco frowns. He is clearly puzzled. 'Why, where are they going?' he asks.
The only link with that anecdote and the story of Christina Wenckheim is that, supposedly, her immensely wealthy father, in his sixties, was lying on what was supposed to be his deathbed, and in the next room all the relations who might be going to inherit his fortune were gathered, arguing about who had the most right to the biggest share. Disturbed by their bickering, he got up, went out, made it clear to them that he was better and they could all shove off and, once they had, announced that he was going to marry the first pretty unmarried girl who went past his window. He then stationed himself by the window to wait.
When, inevitably, a pretty unmarried girl appeared in the street below, he sent his servant down to fetch her and, when she came upstairs and into his presence, he put his proposition to her. Sensibly, one would imagine, she made the calculation that she could put up with this old bloke for a few years and then spend many decades happily enjoying his immense riches. Instead, she became pregnant, died in childbirth and left him with Christina. When he died not long afterwards, Christina inherited everything.
After the visit of the King and Emperor, Christina went on to build O'Kigyos, (fourth one down), the place where Patrick Leigh Fermor famously played bicycle polo. I wonder if, embarrassed by the rather basic nature of her first house, she was hoping to impress the emperor, should he ever chance to return.
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