THIS AREA WAS ORIGINALLY part of the Novgorod Republic, but spent about 200 years under Swedish control until Peter I reconquered it in 1710. Two years later he granted it to General Volkonsky, who built the first estate here—a wooden house and a few other things. Back then the estate was called Dylitsy, but now it’s called Elizavetino and no one knows exactly why. Actually, there are three possible reasons, and the correct one depends on who you ask.
The surrounding area was well known for its good hunting, and the popular opinion is that Empress Elizaveta Petrovna used the estate as a hunting lodge, or at least as a stopping over point on her way to Gostilitsy, an estate she had granted to one of her favorites Aleksey Razumovsky.
Katherine (later to be Katherine the Great) purchased Dylitsy in the 1750’s. After her husband Peter III came to power, and after she disposed of Peter III and came to power herself, Katherine gave the estate to Vasili Shkurin, who had helped her with the coup.
Shkurin replaced the wooden estate house and church with brick structures, built a mill, several buildings for livestock and grain, and turned the French park of about 40 acres into more of an English one.
Shkurin’s estate palace was remodeled once after his death and again in the 1850’s, but both times the original architectural style was well preserved,
Photo: G.A. Isachenko, 1984 and this is the palace that you see today.
During the late 1840’s the estate changed owners several times and ended up belonging to Princess Elizaveta Esperovna Trubetskaya. Elizaveta Esperovna was from one of Russia’s more preimminent families—the Belosel'sky-Belozerskys—and, having been raised “in the French manner,” had little knowledge of rural matters (she once ordered all moles to be “immediately expelled from the park”) and was otherwise capricious. When the railroad appeared in 1870, she ordered the local station to be named “Elizavetino” and had a train that made a special stop not at the station, but closer to her palace.
Princess Trubetskaya died in 1907 and was buried in the church on the estate.
According to one unreliable source, at some point during the 19th century after Trubetskaya’s death (yes, this is impossible according to the chronology above) the estate was owned by a certain Elizavetin family, thus the villiage and estate are actually named after them, and not Elizaveta Esperovna or Elizaveta Petrovna.
After the Revolution in 1917, the estate spent three years being used as a commune for Estonians, then as a “labor school”; the students lived in the palace. In 1924 it was turned into a branch of the Leningrad Pedagogical Technicum.
The Nazis reached Elizavetino in August 1941, killed most of the 2nd NKVD Border Patrol Cadet Battalion stationed there and turned the palace into a headquarters and barracks; the church was used for storing munitions. After the Nazis’ retreat in early 1944 the estate was in ruins.
I’ve heard that the palace had been almost completely restored by 1990, just in time to be abandoned again after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A few years later some vagrant’s campfire in one room got out of control and destroyed much of the central and southern sections of the building.
Location: Russia / Leningradskaja oblast' / Gatchinskij rajon / posjolok Elizavetino
Photography: Summer 2001, Summer 2002