Mr. & Mrs. Mencel

04 Jul 2024   Markéta   4 min read

From 1962 until his death, the significant Czech historian and preservationist Václav Mencl (January 16, 1905 – July 28, 1978) lived with his wife Dobroslava (January 2, 1904 – November 19, 1978) at the Nemilkov Chateau during the summer.

He was an outstanding architectural historian, an art history expert, a graduate engineer from the Czech Technical University, a Doctor of Philosophy, the director of the State Heritage Institute (Státní památkový ústav), and primarily the author of dozens of expert articles and publications. His encyclopedia "Folk Architecture in Czechoslovakia," („Lidová architektura v Československu“,) which remains an unrivaled work in its field, was published posthumously.

She was also an art historian, architect, and archaeologist. Born in Přerov, her father was the academic painter Miroslav Vavrouška. She initially studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, having inherited a certain artistic talent. Therefore, she illustrated all her works herself. Her lifelong and timeless work is the two-volume encyclopedia "Czech Castles," ("České hrady") published in 1972.

Mencl, a true Plzeň native (his father was a builder there), had an extraordinarily heartfelt connection to the Šumava region and always fondly remembered it, even though his professional life took him far from home. He and his beloved "Slávička" had their long-awaited wedding on April 6, 1930, in the Church of Our Lady Victorious on Bílá Hora in Prague. They lived nearby in Malý Břevnov. For nearly nine years, they also lived in Slovakia in Bratislava, as the Heritage Institute sent them to Slovakia to survey the "unexplored field." They were the first professionals to comprehensively examine Slovak monuments and lay the foundation for modern Slovak heritage preservation and care.

After February 1948, Professor Mencl was labeled a bourgeois First Republic intellectual and had to leave Charles University. He worked for the Ministry of Education as a field worker in heritage protection. In Klatovy, he "battled" with the chairman of the Municipal National Committee, Comrade Rojík, over the preservation of the late Romanesque object "U Červeného vola" on the Klatovy Prague Suburb district. Unfortunately, his expert opinion was only advisory. Politically, Comrade Rojík had the upper hand with his vision of housing development. The entire object was demolished at the beginning of 1956.

Since there were not many top experts in the field of heritage in socialist Czechoslovakia, the Mencls were allowed to return to Prague in 1958. Their first project was the national protection of historic urban centers, which, in essence, "Urban Heritage Reserves," („Městská památková rezervace“) remains viable, active, and functional to this day.

They were spiritually connected, possibly also because they had no children. Sadly. The Mencls were friends with the local Velhartice priest Ladislav Janeček. One fateful day, the priest was going to Sušice for some errands and took Dr. Mencl with him. This was supposedly on Thursday, July 27, 1978. Mencl was sitting next to the priest as a passenger when an unfortunate accident occurred at the "Na Zahálce" intersection near Velhartice. The priest was entering the main Klatovy-Sušice road and failed to yield to an oncoming motorcycle. The motorcyclist, traveling at the legal speed, couldn't stop in time and collided with the right side of the car, precisely where Dr. Mencl was sitting. The impact caused him internal injuries, and he passed away the next day in Sušice. His wife Dobroslava could not "absorb" the events and died shortly afterward from grief.

On Sunday, July 7, 2024, a memorial plaque for both spouses was ceremoniously unveiled in collaboration with the Friends of Czech History Association in Klatovy (Přátelé české historie Klatovy). This commemorative plaque on part of the renovated façade of Nemilkov Castle now "welcomes" every visitor at the entrance to the grounds.

The Mencls fully deserve this, with our respect and in recognition of all their diligent work in the field of Czech history.


Legendární manželé Menclovi a jejich Nemilkov

Wikipedie - Dobroslava Menclová - Dobroslava Menclová

Wikipedie - Václav Mencl