… let down your hair.”
Another story claimed by the Brothers Grimm, who published it in 1812. However, it transpires that the good brothers stole the story from someone called Friedrich Schulz who published it in 1795.
Schultz in turn stole the story from one Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force (What a brilliant name. I think I’m going to change my name to Robert de la Force!) The good Charlotte-Rose published the story in 1698 and even she stole it from an earlier version published in 1634 by one Giambattista Basile.
(On reflection, I think I want to be know henceforth as Giambattista de Caumont de la Force. How cool would that be?)
Anyway…. for those who don’t know the story, poor Rapunzel taken away from her poor parents as a baby by a wicked witch, who, for reasons that we can only guess at, locked her up in a very high tower in the middle of a deep, dark forest. The tower had no door that could be accessed from below.
The baby grew up into a beautiful young maiden with long blond hair – as they all did in those days – and whenever the wicked witch wanted to visit Rapunzel, the poor girl would have to let down her hair so that the witch could climb up her golden tresses.
Well, as often happens in these stories, a passing prince, discovers the beautiful Rapunzel in her tower and learns the witch’s secret. One night, he presents himself in front of the tower, calls out “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair”, climbs up the proffered tresses and makes the acquaintance of the lovely Rapunzel.
(It should perhaps be noted at this point that the Grimm Brothers’ original description of the ‘acquaintance-making’ that took place between the Prince and the imprisoned maiden had to be re-written a number of times so that it did not inflame the senses of some of their more impressionable readers.)
Anyway, skirting over some of the more unseemly details of the story, it did, eventually, have happy ending, despite the blinding of the Prince and the unexpected pregnancy of the maiden. Hey, it’s a Grimm fairy tale. There has to be some serious suffering at some point in the story!
So why am I telling you all this? Because on our recent visit to Germany we visited Wasserschloss Mespelbrunn, which, as you will see, is where you can find the actual tower that the actual maiden was locked in by the actual witch – or at least that is what the tour guide told us!
Originally a hunting lodge, Schloss Mespelbrunn is now one of germany’s main tourist attractions, nestling, as it does, in the sprawling Spessart Forest, not far from Frankfurt am Main.
With its impressive gate and baronial hall, the Schloss is well worth a visit, but what makes it special is the fact that it is set on the side of an ornament lake…. and …
… and……. it has the actual tower where Rapunzel was locked away before she was rescued by her Handsome, if somewhat reckless, Prince.
The very enthusiastic guide who showed us around told us that the Brothers Grimm actually stayed at the Schloss Mespelbrunn at some point, so the whole story must be true, mustn’t it?