Guest Page No. 10

Home From Home - Ilkestonians Abroad
10 - Germany

John Jagus was born in Ilkeston in 1955, the only son to Theodore (Theo) and Edith and was brought up with his three elder sisters in the town. Theo was a Polish refugee and a local miner who sadly lost his life at an early age but John's mother, who later remarried, and his sisters still live locally. John however has made his home in Germany for over 30 years and has been happily married to Kerstin for more than 8 years having first met there in the early 1970s when he was serving with the British forces. Employment prospects at that time in England were not good and as his army contract came to an end, he decided to stay in Germany which is still his base although he works world wide as a service technician for the German company Hartmann Valves. His home is in Celle, the capital town of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony which is where all the images on this page sent to me by John were captured. So let's enjoy this slice of life from another Ilkestonian abroad.
John and Kerstin actually live about 5km east of Celle in a small village called Garssen but they made that short trip into Celle for these images.

Celle is a town with in excess of 70,000 inhabitants situated about 50km north east of Hanover. It is twinned with the English town of Tavistock in Devon and has a history that stretches back over 700 years. That history includes being the official residence between 1378 and 1705 of the Lüneburg branch of the Dukes of Welf who had been banished from their original Ducal seat.

Today Celle is noteworthy for having a picturesque old town centre, the Altstadt, complete with many timber-framed buildings and, as is apparent from John's photos, some lovely streets and squares.

The oldest building in the town with foundation walls dating from 1292 is the Schloss Celle or Celle Castle which is sometimes even referred to as Celle Palace. Schloss, castle or palace the four-winged building is the largest such structure in the southern Lüneburg Heath region of Germany.

It was built in the renaissance and baroque style and has a unique chapel with renaissance features from the sixteenth century that have been painstakingly preserved. The castle was one of the residences of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg and includes the seventeenth century early baroque style state chambers, an eighteenth century kitchen and the oldest theatre still in use in Germany but these three images from John were all taken outside the castle in the vicinity of the moat.

Another large brick building in the town that has been restored and now serves as the New Town Hall (Neue Rathaus) and Celle Council Offices was built between 1869 and 1872 as the barracks for the 77th Infantry Regiment. It was renamed in 1938 as the Heidekaserne (Heath Barracks) and after the Second World War was used by British troops until 1993.

The area around the Heidekaserne has now been transformed by residential buildings and a town park has also been created around the building. Germany's recent history is never far away however and this photo (above right) is a reminder of the Nazi era showing one of many brass plaques that are dotted around the town naming Jews that were never to return.

Returning to the Old Town area, these three images above and right come from The Stechbahn which was the former show ground and tournament venue. It was built about 1530 and the "Löwenapotheke" (Lion Pharmacy) seen here in John's photo on the right was the former Court Pharmacy until 1849. A horseshoe built into the pavement in front of the building marks the spot where Duke Otto the Magnanimous is said to have accidentally been killed after falling from his horse during a tournament in 1471.

The Stechbahn and surrounding area was redesigned in 2004/5 to make it more attractive for citizens and visitors, due reference being made to its historical background. A feature also to be seen in John's photo on the right is an artwork of the "Lances before the Lion Pharmacy".
A building that commands a lot of attention in the Old Town is the Hoppener House (left), an attractive timber-framed house built in 1532.

But something not quite so obvious and which John acknowledges that it is the first time he had noticed it, is the crown around a nearby tree (right).

Occupying almost the whole of one side of the Stechbahn is the 700 year old church of St. Marien with its 74.5 metre high tower from where hymns are played on a trumpet twice each and every day.

If England's cuisine is known for its fish and chips (although curry is now high on the menu too) in Germany it is the sausages that are available from fast food outlets and in Celle it is not unknown for John and Kerstin to call in Eisrmann's schnell imbus (quick food) opposite the town church for a snack.


You might say you can take the lad out of Ilkeston but you can't take Ilkeston out of the lad!
For the last two images we leave Celle and go to John and Kerstin's home in Garssen and I'll let John take up the story:
"Last winter it being cold and with the early dark nights I had a bright idea to make something for our back garden. So I came up with a finger post, they are quite common even here in Germany. The post as you can see has four directions, all the wood is oak and it took a few winter months for me to carve out all the names using only traditional tools."

The four directions are as follows: north is Bergen, Norway 1214km a place where John has worked; south is Schladming, Austria 888km where Kerstin's parents used to live; east is Rusinowice, Poland 772km where John's father was born and west is Ilkeston 1074km where John was born. Whilst finger posts are common John adds "one in your back garden is not so common and with Ilkeston 1074km in one direction - that's one long walk!"