The history of the Greiffenclau Bed
In 1711 Count Ludwig von Hohenlohe had a sumptuous bed installed in his wife, Countess Elisabeth Friederike Sophie’s bedchamber. The bed was so glorious that when Johann-Philipp von Greiffenclau, Prince-bishop of Würzburg und Duke of Franconia, came to visit he immediately ordered one for himself! Johann-Philipp von Greiffenclau’s bed matched Elisabeth’s in every way apart from the Greiffenclau griffin that he had engraved on his bed’s two front feet.
The search for the Greiffenclau Bed
In 1719 the bed was installed at the Greiffenclau’s palace in Würzburg. Napoleon captured the city in 1806, installing Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany as its ruler. After the fall of Napoleon, Ferdinand ceded control of the city to the King of Bavaria in 1814. What happened to the bed after that became a mystery.
In 2018 the current generation of the Matuschka von Greiffenclau family employed historian Annie Wannawongsorn to find the bed. Mrs Wannawongsorn specialises in locating historical objects – but this was no easy search!
After an extensive search, Mrs Wannawongsorn eventually found a letter in the US from Francis Davies Millet, who was not only a famous artist in his time but also a member of the American Academy in Rome between 1904 and 1911.
The letter that changed everything
In his letter, France Davies Millet expresses an interest in buying the bed on behalf of his friend Major Archibald Willingham Butt and states that when the pair return to the US they will make the necessary arrangements for the purchase. Sadly, Mrs Wannawongsorn was able to discover the letter and establish that the bed never made it to America because both men were onboard the Titanic when it sank in April 1912.
The letter, however, confirmed the suspicion that Grand Duke Ferdinand took the Greiffenclau Bed with him when he retreated south. It also suggested that the bed could be somewhere near present-day Rome.
In Rome, Mrs Wannawongsorn meticulously retraced every step taken by Francis Davies Millet and Major Archibald Butt during their travels.
An end to the search
After three months of searching, Mrs Wannawongsorn discovered the bed on the 7th August 2021 in a villa near Rome. Today the Greiffenclau Bed has pride of place at Schloss Hauptwil.