Worksop: Exhibition to remember Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s visit to the town

A new exhibition marking the centenary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s visit to the town in 1913 - just months before his assassination sparked the start of the First World War - has opened at Worksop library.

Tuesday, 12th November 2013, 1:22 pm
Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited Worksop months before his assassination which led to the start of First World War

The library in Memorial Avenue, is hosting an archive display of photographs and newspaper cuttings to mark an historic moment in Worksop’s history when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg who stayed at Welbeck Abbey with the Duke of Portland in November, 1913.

They had spent the week before with King George V and Queen Mary at Windsor and travelled to Worksop by train.

They were met by limousines which took them to Welbeck and large crowds lined the streets to cheer the visitors as they drove up Bridge Street and Sparken Hill.

Other guests at Welbeck Abbey for the visit included the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador Count Mensdorff, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Lord Curzon, the Portland’s eldest son the Marquis of Titchfield, Lord and Lady Salisbury, their children Lord Hugh and Lady Mary Cecil and Arthur Balfour, the former Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.

The Archduke and Duchess attended Mass at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Worksop the following day, and during the course of the week the Archduke enjoyed shooting parties at Clowne Hills, Clipstone and Gleadthorpe and the couple also visited Sherwood Forest, Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Hall during their stay.

Just months later, on June 28 1914, the Archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of what is now Bosnia, which had been annexed by Austria a few years ago earlier.

And less than a month later, Britain was at war with Austria-Hungary and her ally Germany, marking the outbreak of World War One.

Ralph Lloyd-Jones, Team Local Studies Librarian, at Notts County Council said: “It is fascinating to think that just a few months after his visit to Nottinghamshire, his assassination had sparked the start of the Great War.”

“It is highly likely that as well as being a social visit to the UK, there will have been some diplomatic discussions taking place between those important people during that week at Welbeck Abbey.”

“To think that people who were cheering these imperial visitors as they drove through Worksop would a year later be involved in what became such a horrific world conflict where many onlookers in that crowd would be killed, maimed or widowed is truly shocking. No-one could have known what lay ahead, and we feel it is important to document it 100 years on.”