Friday, 28 November 2008

A shed by any other name...

I'm grateful to Vivienne Boucher for putting me on to this - the Laubenmuseum in Nürnberg - that's the Museum of Summerhouses in Nuremberg, Germany. She describes it as a museum of sheds, discovered on a trip to encourage her son in his German GCSE. (She's quite a mum - she did the GCSE herself.)

Here's a rough translation of the homepage text:

'Garden arbors from the period 1920 to 1930, from various allotments in Nuremberg, have been lovingly restored and rebuilt here.

The urban gardeners of Nuremberg shows how romantic and imaginative garden houses at that time were designed.'

Karwendelstr. 30
90471 Nürnberg

Free admission. Fully wheelchair accessible
Opening hours: May - Oct. Sat 2 pm - 5 pm

'The goal of the local association of allotment gardeners is to preserve for future generations this valuable evidence both of the garden plot movement in Nuremberg after WW I and of the romantic creativity invested in such gardenhouses in that period.' European City Cards

And in that way so characteristic of sheds (or certainly the ones I come across), the garden houses of Nuremberg have acted as a focal point - gathering together a number of different strands.

A few years ago, when I was the director of a regional writers' organisation based Brighton, England - Nadine Mannchen, a German student, came to work with me, courtesy of the excellent EU Da Vinci programme that provides work experience for students across Europe.

Nadine hailed from an area of Germany I knew little about - Franconia. Nuremberg happens to be the capital of Middle Franconia, one of the administrative regions (Regierungs bezirk) of modern Bavaria along with Upper and Lower Franconia.

Nadine helping Shedman at the Weald Woodfair 2005

Nadine gave me a beautiful illustrated book about Franconia. As its name suggests, it is the land of the Franks. There is no Franconian state - although people still feel a strong sense of being Franconian as opposed to Bavarian. Shedman like's to think that like the South of England, Franconia is a region of the imagination. - the throwing axe of the Franks!

A curious aside:
Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy in the Nazi Party, was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. On August 17, 1987, Hess was found in a "summer house" in a garden located in a secure area of the prison with an electrical cord wrapped around his neck. His death was ruled a suicide by self-asphyxiation, accomplished by tying the cord to a window latch in the summer house.

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