Station: [14] Large Vaulted Cellar

This attractive venue for events was once an enormous wine warehouse:

The vaulted cellar beneath the main house dates from the first construction phase, when Carl Ludwig Wunderlich originally built the mansion. It measures 240 square-metres, equivalent to nearly 2,600 square feet. The floor of sandstone slabs and the cross vaults supported by huge columns give it almost the look of an old abbey undercroft.

Wunderlich described himself as a "carrier and grocer". In other words, he traded in a wide range of goods. Here, in the cellar of his house, he may have stored bottles and barrels of wine. When the current owners took possession, they found a framework of long oak beams resting on blocks of sandstone down here. It would once have supported huge barrels. The beams were so long that they must have been carried down into the cellar before any building work took place on the site now occupied by the east wing.

Wunderlich's successors, Lucas Faesch, Adolf Friedrich Bader and the Fehr family, also used this chilly space for storage purposes. Some older Lahr residents still remember the Fehr-Huber wine wholesalers, and you can imagine how many 4,000-litre barrels may have been neatly lined up in this cellar. Fehr-Huber was active in the wine trade until the 1950s. They bought barrels of wine from small growers and blended it in the large barrels, creating new products here in the cellar. Known as cuvees, these bulk wines were then bottled and sold throughout Germany. If you take a look at the wall behind the counter, you can still see some bottles from Fehr-Huber's stock on display.

With its small window shafts opening on to Kaiserstrasse, this vaulted cellar may have been perfectly suitable as a storage space. But in order to transform it into a festive public venue, a serious re-think was required – of ventilation, heating, acoustics and lighting. The rendering was stripped off the walls, bringing the undressed sandstone vaulting into view. That improved the acoustics no end. A ventilation system provides good air circulation and also takes care of temperature control. A modern lighting system now presents this impressive vault in a proper light.

The ancient beams on which the huge barrels rested for centuries now provide seating for guests – because the bench that runs around the room was made from that 200-year-old oak.