Next time you take a stroll along Cromer Pier, before
you reach the end of the pier turn around, and look back
towards the town. Over on the left hand side you will
see a pink building, which back in the 19th century this
was the annex of Tuckers Hotel of Cromer.
If you had been around during the year of 1887 and had
strolled out on the pier which existed even back then,
and looked up at this same building you may well have
seen an attractive fifty year old lady looking down from
one of the hotel windows to the promenade below. On
which there would have been a cow, and a cow that was
The lady in question is none other than the Empress
Elizabeth of Austria or 'Sisi' as she was known. She was
staying in Cromer for some two months in a wing of the
When Sisi was just 16 years old she met her
sisters fiancé the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria aged
twenty-three, who was also her cousin. He became so
smitten with the young Elizabeth that he insisted upon
marrying Elizabeth instead of her older sister.
Sisi was born on Christmas Eve of the year 1837 into the
Bavarian court of Germany. When fully grown she stood at
five feet eight inches (172cm) with rich chestnut wavy
hair that fell well below her knees. Even in her day
Elizabeth was considered to be a beauty and to this day
was said to have been the Princess Diana of her time. By
the 1860's she was acclaimed as the world's most
She maintained her lithe figure and youthful appearance
by dieting and sports. Enjoying swimming, gymnastics,
fencing and was also was a very fine equestrian. At age
forty-four years of age an observer wrote that "….she
looked like an angel and rode like the devil". She is
said to have hated to sit down to eat and spent the
majority of her life on a diet. She also had a
reputation for tight lacing and in 1860-61 her waist
measured just 16 inches.
She was adored by the Austrian people as she concerned
herself with the poor and the sick visiting hospitals
and asylums. However, Elizabeth could never get used to
the confines of court life, as unlike her elder sister,
Elizabeth had not been groomed for this life.
So it was that she took every
opportunity to escape court. She would travel the world
under the pseudonym Countess of Hohenembs (or Hohenems)
thus avoiding the annoyance of official receptions and
also potential assassination attempts. So it was that on
one of her 'escapes' we find her in the seaside town of
Unfortunately Elizabeths life was not a happy one, she
lost her daughter Sophie in 1857 and her son committed
suicide in 1889. Her brother-in-law, Emperor Maximilian
of Mexico was shot by revolutionaries and Elizabeth
herself was so concerned about being assassinated that
she took certain steps to ensure herself against poison,
wherever she went.
So it was that whilst in Cromer she had her bread made
just up the road from the hotel under careful
supervision and had a cow milked just underneath her
hotel window where she could observe the process.
Sadly all these precautions were in vain as she was
indeed eventually assassinated whilst staying on Lake
Geneva in Switzerland.
Her murderer was an Italian anarchist called Luigi
Luccheni. His intended victim had actually been the
French Duke of Orleans, but the Duke had already left
the area and so Luccheni looked around for someone else
important whom he could kill. Unfortunately he found
Sisi and so began to stalk her.
On the 10th September 1898 the sixty-year-old Empress
was hurrying along the quay to catch the steamer across
the lake for an excursion to the Rothschild residence
near Geneva. Luigi Luccheni stepped forth from behind a
tree and struck the Empress in the chest with his fist,
in which there was a homemade dagger made from a pointed
As the Empress adopted the practice of wearing tightly
laced corsets she was unaware as to how seriously she
had been wounded and actually continued walking and even
boarded the ferry. It was only when her clothes were
loosened that her entourage found the wound.
The ferry was immediately turned around
and the Empress who was now unconscious was carried back
to her hotel. There was nothing that could be done as
the dagger had pierced her heart and sadly Elizabeth
died. Her husband the Emperor was devastated.
Her memory lives on in Vienna where she is still
honoured both with musicals films and a commemorative
stamp. Alas Tuckers Hotel is no more and the pink
building is now privately owned flats.