While rummaging through a dusty pile of unwanted paintings, we recently were lucky enough to find a rare, hand painted 'Totenschild' or Memorial Plaque, hidden away under a table, unloved. So evocative and beautiful was it that it had to be rescued and came home with us that same day. Intrigued, we researched its history and discovered it had an interesting story with, ultimately, a very satisfying end!
The plaque is particularly unusual as it commemorates the life of a female - these were usually only produced for the male line of notable families. It was produced to commemorate the life and death (in May 1920) of Marie von Nesselrode-Ehreshoven. Marie was the last in a long line of German nobility, dating back to the late 14th Century. It was in 1399 that the Nesselrode-Ehreshoven family line was established when Wilhelm von Nesselrode married Jutta von Grafschaft, whose family lived in Ehreshoven. The family home was Schloss Ehreshoven in Engleskirchen - 20 miles east of Cologne.
The castle still exists to this day and is thriving as an event location. After Marie's passing, the castle was partially set aside for the support of needy ladies - a foundation that was set up in the name of Marie by the Rhenish Knights in 1923.
Information suggests that Marie's Totenschild was removed from the Castle at the outset of WW2 and put into storage, was never reinstated and then sold in error during a clearance sometime later. Having become attached to Marie while uncovering her story, we decided to contact the Castle as we are passsionate believers returning such important artifacts to their rightful home.
We are delighted to finish this story with a happy ending! Marie's Totenschild has now been safely returned to its home and will take pride of place there very shortly.
Contentment ensues ..... :)