Now let me introduce you to the earliest pavilion on the estate called The Dutch House.
The lady inside was very kind and only too happy to talk about this gem of a house. She told me that it was the earliest of all the rest of “smaller” houses built for the entertainment on the estate and indeed The Dutch House was erected to commemorate Peter the Great’s epoch and his love for Holland.
This “architectural souvenir” was the first the visitors encountered when they drove in Kuskovo through the drawbridge; and they were immediately drawn into a world of fantasy, “a mirage of the pastoral heaven”. The pavilion was built in the “dutch “style, with its bright bricks which are actually painted on … the bricks! But, I suppose, it looks better…
It was surrounded by other small buildings (didn’t survive) and a little orchard with tulips and hyacinths but also with cabbages and asparagus (still there). All this was supposed to recreate a way of life of a ‘burgher’.
It is now standing on a firm ground but it used to be right on the canal full of carps
and the host with his guests would arrive in a boat (accompanied by a cook), the fish was caught right on the spot and the chef cooked it in the kitchen downstairs while ladies and gentlemen waited upstairs!
When I went inside I was amazed to see that ALL walls were covered with handmade dutch tiles! Different colours in different rooms. The lady told me that at the time the tiles were so valuables that even prosperous households could afford only several of them and they were the pride of the house hanging framed on the wall. Can you imagine the sheer wealth of a person who could decorate all the walls from floor to ceilings with these precious tiles!
The Dutch House is amazingly well preserved, the rooms layout, most of the furniture, paintings (mostly Dutch Baroque), china – all is authentic, original! This just blew me away! Imagine walking on the same floorboards, going up the same staircase, looking at paintings and decoration exactly like all those people did almost 300 years ago!
The house is quite draughty and cold in winter, the lady complained. They are obviously not allowed in the rooms and have to sit in a small corridor near a little heater… But she absolutely loved the Dutch House and everything in it and was evidently very proud of it. And I can understand why!