Spasskoye-Lutovinovo was the country estate of author Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883). After years of neglect under Soviet rule, the estate was reopened as a museum in the 1970s. The park is 40 hectares with a pond and ancient trees and avenues. Turgenev and Tolstoy had a strained relationship but Tolstoy noted in his diary that he understood Turgenev's inspiration having visited Spasskoye-Lutovinovo.
I visited Spasskoye Lutovinovo last May and found it a memorable place, much more quiet than Tolstoy's home it brings alive "Sportsmans Sketches" for this was the area explored and so brilliantly recounted in Turgenev's first main work which brought him to world attention.
Russian countryside has a haunting quality about it, go and see this place for yourself, the lady in the village shop (turn right at the gates upon leaving and it is on the left) is very pleasant when you buy something to eat and drink.
It was in Spasskoye-Lutovinovo that Ivan Turgenev wrote most of his works, in which descriptions of the Spasskoye house and park take up many pages, albeit in disguise. Life in the neighbouring estates is also mirrored in his writing. In 1968, in connection with the 150th anniversary of Turgenev's birth, the (then) Soviet Government decreed that the house be restored, and in 1976 the house and park were formally established as a museum-estate.
I had the great good fortune to spend three days here last summer, staying at the brand new guest bungalow located within the grounds of the estate. As a garden lover and also as a fan of Turgenev’s novels, I was entranced by the whole place. It has a peaceful, romantic atmosphere.
Flower beds and lawns are concentrated around the main house, and there are numerous wild roses between the house and the little church (built in the early 1800s by a domestic architect who worked for Turgenev’s grandfather). As you walk away from the house towards the heart of the estate, the lanes become more shadowy and the air grows moist, so you can sense you are approaching water. You soon reach a large, deep pond, which was a place for the Turgenev family - and the peasants of the surrounding villages - to fish and relax. Evidently, Russian village folk still enjoy a bit of poaching. As the sun went down one night I witnessed a man huddled by a small campfire at the side of the pond; and early the next morning on my pre-breakfast stroll I saw him heading home with his night’s catch. It could have come straight out of a scene from Turgenev’s “Sportsman’s Sketches”.
In the middle of the park some greenhouses used to stand, which have now been partially reconstructed. The guest bungalow is also in this part of the grounds, and it looks onto an attractive potager, blooming with vibrantly coloured zinnias and marigolds when I was there.
This beautiful place does not appear to be particularly well known to tourists from outside, or even from within, Russia. Even at the height of summer it did not seem to be very busy – although I imagine that it must receive regular visits from school groups and coach tours throughout the year. I felt it a real privilege to be there in the early evening, after the gates were closed to the public, and to wander on my own throughout the grounds - in absolute silence, apart from the sound of the bees in the lime trees.
I heartily commend this place to everyone. It will not disappoint.
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