The Governor's Mansion is a building in Tobolsk, Russia. It was the home of the governor of Siberia before the February 1917 Revolution. The house, which is located at 10 Mira Street, in the Tobolsk area below the Kremlin, is protected by the Russian federal government as a historic monument. It was in August 1917 that the Romanov family lived until April 1918 in this mansion, and is now remembered as a museum dedicated to the life of the family and the last lives they had in Siberia.

When they arrived in Tobolsk, the Romanov family was allowed to attend the local cathedral for religious services. The Blagoveschenie church was located very close to the governor's mansion: across the street, then diagonally across the city gardens and on another street on the left.

In Nicholas II's diary in 1917, he wrote in his diary: “September 8. Friday. For the first time I went to the Blagoveschenie church, where our priest has been serving for some time. But my joy was marred by the foolish circumstances during our procession there. Along the way to the city gardens were snipers, and near the church there was a huge crowd! It deeply disturbed me ... ”

Blagoveschenie chapel

The Grand Duchess Tatiana wrote to her Aunt Ksenia in a letter dated 18 September, 1917:  “The church here is nice.  One big summer [area] in the center, for the parish service, and two winter ones on the sides.  In the right aisle they had service for us alone.  It is not far from here, we have to walk through town and directly across the road.”

The Czar had a diary from which he made many notes from day to day. "Another excellent day, with some frost." This is the entry of Tsar Nicholas II in his diary, after one day in October 1917.

In captivity, the family had little to do. Nicholas began to read a lot, classics like Leon Tolstoy, War and Peace, became a family ritual - in the evening, Nicholas used to read parts of the monumental novel about the invasion of Russia by Napoleonic troops to wife and children. The daughters and the wife devoted themselves to sewing, writing letters, stage plays. The youngest imperial children were especially enthusiastic about dressing up and memorizing the lines, and had a lot of fun doing it. Grand Duchess Olga was in charge of writing out the scripts.

Putting on plays was mentioned numerous times in diaries and letters the Romanovs wrote from Tobolsk. Here are a couple of examples, below:

From Anastasia Romanov to A.Vyrubova. 10 December, 1917.

My darling and dear: Thank you tenderly for your little gift. It was so nice to get it, reminding me especially of you. We remember you and speak of you often, and in our prayers we are always together. The little dog you gave [us] is always with us and is very nice. We have arranged our rooms comfortably and all four live together. We often sit at the windows looking at the people passing by, and this gives us distraction…  We have acted in little plays for amusement. We walk in the garden behind high planks. God bless you.                              AN

The Czar worked in the cutting of wood with his friend Pierre Gilliard (French tutor for the kids). The hundreds of photos we have of the Romanov Family today are largely due to Pierre Gilliard.

Nicholas read all Russian literature that he had never read before, while the Tsar's father, Alexander III, who was a "cultural illiterate", decided to deprive the heir to the throne of access to literary works. Nicholas read these books not only to spend the long hours he was imprisoned at home, but also to understand Russia.


The Tsar's “lack of intellectual curiosity” meant that he lived in a “mental bubble”, and that he never really got to know Russia or the Russians. One of Nicholas's main beliefs was that the Russian people were "intrinsically noble, decent and simple" and the corruption that could befall this nature would always have a foreign root or be the result of a Zionist conspiracy. The monarch never quite understood the reason why many Russians at one point started to call him Nicholas, "the bloodthirsty".

Son Alexei also used to write letters in Tobolsk like this:

From Alexei  Romanov to A. Vyrubova. 12 January, 1918.
My darling Anya. We are so glad to have news from you, and to hear that you got all our things. Today it is 29 degrees of frost, a strong wind and sunshine. We walked, and I went on skis in the yard. Yesterday I acted a French piece with Tatiana and Zhylik. We are now preparing another piece. We have a few good soldiers with whom I play games in their rooms. Kolya Derevenko comes to visit me on holidays. Nagorny the sailor sleeps with me.  As servants we have Volkov, Sednev, Trupp and Chemodurov. It is time to go to lunch. I kiss and embrace you. God bless you.       ALEXEI

In Tobolsk, the Romanov family also had a small farm next to the mansion with various animals,Letters from daughters mention the small farm:

From a letter of Olga Romanov (From Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg):
“Tobolsk, 15th /28th April, 1918…   Today was warmer than yesterday and the windows are wide open…   We took the evening tea in the dining room (before the churchʼs installation we took tea in the living room)… Yesterday, we ate the ‘poor’ turkey. Mama, you would have said ‘one should not’, dear little soul…”.

From a letter of Marie Romanov (From Ekaterinburg to Tobolsk):
“May 2/15…  This morning we heard the church bells. That was the only pleasant and agreeable event.   We were happy to learn that Al.P. sold the pigs so well. What is he going to do with the piglets?  Mama, speaking about the turkey, said ‘you should not have…'”.


In April 1918, Nicholas was forced to leave Tobolsk, being able to choose who could go with him to Yekaterinburg.

Vassili Vassilievich Jakolev appeared before the ex-Tsar; having asked the Empress to leave the room (which she refused to do), Jakolev began:-
'I have to tell you that I am the special representative of the Moscow Central Executive Committee, and my mission is to take all your family out of Tobolsk, but as your son is ill I have received a second order which says that you alone must leave.'
Nicholas replied: 'I will not go anywhere.'
Jakolev protested: 'I beg of you not to refuse. I am compelled to execute the order. In case of your refusal I must take you by force or resign. In the latter case they would probably decide to send a less scrupulous sort of man to take my position. Be calm; I am responsible with my life for your security. If you do not want to go alone you could take with you the people you desire. Be ready; we are leaving to-morrow at four o'clock.'

'Then,' said Nicholas, 'they are trying to make me sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. I will let them cut off my hand rather than do it.' 'I will go with him!' cried the Empress, in a violent agitation. 'If I am not with him they will force him to sign something as they did before.' She mentioned Rodzianko, evidently referring to the abdication at Pskov.
Alexandra suspected a German intrigue and, declared to Gilliard that afternoon, in a tempest of emotion: 'They will take him away, alone, in, the night.'...I cannot abandon him at such a moment....I know, they are preparing some ignominy.... They will make him sign a peace at Moscow....The Germans are behind it, knowing that only a treaty signed by the Tsar has any value. My duty is never to permit that nor abandon him. But how can I leave Alexis? What would become of him without me?'

Gilliard makes the following record:-
I remember with precision the next phrase she spoke. 'Oh, God! What a ghastly torture!...This is the first time in my life that I am not sure what I should do.'
But she finally found herself and became the old Alexandra Feodorovna of the Rasputin days.
  'Now I am determined.'...At that moment Nicholas entered, returning from his walk.

  'I will not let thee go alone!' she cried. 'I will go with thee!'
'As you will,' he replied.
It was agreed that the Empress and the Grand Duchess Marie should accompany the ex-Tsar, while Alexis and the three remaining Grand Duchesses were to be entrusted to the protection of Gilliard. They left the Tsarevitch suffering from a cruel attack of his hereditary disease and bathed in tears.