In search of history

About 150 years ago, one of my husband’s ancestors took a stroll, probably not too far from where he lived, or perhaps he was staying with somebody and took advantage of a fine day. As gentlemen of the age quite often did, he carried a sketchbook and pencil and probably stopped to draw as he rested. In this case, a slightly ramshackle building that could be a small mill, with a tiny stone bridge over a stream in the foreground and up on the left behind it, quite a commanding little castle perched on the hillside. A tall thin spire just breaks the horizon between the two buildings. Apart from the year and the name “Guggenbühl”, these are the only clues we have.

Today, we set out to see if we could find the evasive Guggenbühl. It turns out that on this particular sheet of small-scale Swiss maps, there are six or seven Güggenbühls scattered about. Some lie near a small castle, most are just an area of higher ground – we haven’t found out exactly what it means, yet. Did the artist have the mill in mind, or rather the fortification in the background? It certainly looks more like a building that was intended to defend than just a show of wealth.

We found three castles – Schwandegg, Girsberg and Goldenberg, none of which are quite right, although Girsberg is closest, and even has a hamlet dropped higgledy-piggledy at its foot. But it’s not quite right. The drive was pleasant and it was fun to scan the map and the landscape, looking for landmarks, but so far, no luck. Googling hasn’t helped much, though we can see there are several more Guggenbühls/Guggenbüels to look into – will we solve the mystery?!

Never mind. We did find this, though

 …a glorious celebration of colour for autumn!

3 thoughts on “In search of history

  1. What a gorgeous sight – season of pumpkins and mellow fruitfulness! Keep searching for Guggenbühl – who knows what other treasures you may come across unawares.

  2. 150 years ago, with no pocket cameras or mobile phones to snap a pretty view, the only way to record it was to sketch it. And how much more intensively you have to look at something when you are drawing it – really LOOK, not just a quick glance at the display and click, move on to the next image. Life was slower, but I think people like this gentleman probably had a richer experience of the countryside than most of us nowadays.

    • Quite! It seems there are actually several drawings of the same little hamlet, so perhaps a few more clues for our search – I have to say, point-and-shoot cameras are lovely to use but you don’t have to do so much composing these days and you often only find details later on when the photos are blown up on your computer screen!

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