If it hadn’t been for a royal wedding, I probably would never have visited the tiny, idyllic village of Panker in the north of Germany, not too far from the shores of the Baltic Sea. This in June 2006 was the scene of the wedding of Prince Philipp von Hessen and Laetitia Bechtolf. A wedding in the nearby chapel, and a reception and party in the lovely white mansion.
The estate of Panker has existed for over 500 years. In the late Middle Ages, at the end of the 14th century, the family Rantzau became the owners of the estate. Around 1650 the base of the present mansion, that is sometimes also called Panker Castle, was laid.
Hans Rantzau sold the property including the nearby estate of Klamp in 1739 to King Friedrich (Fredrik) I of Sweden for 88.000 Reichsthaler, and in the years afterwards also bought two other estates in the area. The King had bought the estates for his illegitimate sons on request of his mistress Hedwig Ulrike Taube von Odenkat. These sons received the title of Count von Hessenstein.
The eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm resided at Panker. After the death of his younger brother Karl Eduard he also inherited the other estates. He became a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1772. He left Panker and the manor of Hessenstein to Landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel. In the next years the family irregularly used the mansion as a residence.
In 1928 the Hessische Hausstiftung was founded to manage the property and fortune of the Hessen family. After World War II the breed of Trakehner horses was started here. The mansion itself, where refugees had found a shelter for some years, was renovated after 1954, also partly modernized on the inside. Since the late 1980s the agricultural village was expanded as a touristic village with galeries and shops, despite of having only about 80 inhabitants.
The castle and its English landscape garden are private property and can’t be visited. Landgrave Heinrich Donatus and his family regularly stay at the property. It is well visible from the road and nearby is a nice restaurant/hotel. On the wedding day itself we spotted Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband Prince Ernst August von Hannover on their terrace.