Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stenalt Manor, East Jutland, Randers amt.

Stenalt Manor, ab. 10 km east of Randers.
Ørsted parish, Rougsø herred, Randers amt.

The manor Stenalt is situated in a landscape bordered by Randers fjord and Kattegat, and area which is almost like an island. The farm is mentioned early in the Middle Ages, where the owners in a large part of this period was the family Bjørn. The present main building in Italian Palladian style looks alien in the flat green landscape and reveals nothing about the old age of the farm.

The medieval Stenalt (Stenholt) was placed about 1.400 m east of the present farm in a low and swampy terrain north of the so-called Tangkær and not far from the village Ørsted. In Pont. Danske Atlas is the place mentioned as "some estate outside the farm placed at Ørsted field." The oldest known owner was Bo Leigel, who in 1375 sold the farm to Jens Mus, whose sons Laurits and Strange inherited the farm; the last mentioned later handed all his inheritance over to his brother. In 1433 Laurits Mus had his ownership confirmed by Erik of Pommern in a låsebrev (letter). In Ørsted church was earlier a portrait grave stone from 1436 of Laurits Mus and his wife Mette Rosenkrantz.

Since Laurits Mus had left no sons, Stenalt came with his daughter Anne (+ 1480) to Anders Jakobsen Bjørn (+1490) from the famous Hvide-family. Anders Bjørn had a feud with the owner of the neighbouring estate Gammel Estrup about harvesting on meadows and fishing in Gudom (Randers) fjord. His and his wife's broken portrait gravestone is in Ørsted Church. His son Bjørn Andersen, who was married to Anna Friis and known from the murder of Poul Laxmand, continued the feuds about the rights of the meadow-harvesting and fishing in Randers fjord. In 1494 king Hans gave him both rights, but in spite of this decision the feud continued in the future. After Bjørn Andersen's death his sons Henrik and Anders Bjørnsen became the owners of Stenalt, the first mentioned, who was unmarried, had it for a short time only. Anders Bjørnsen, whose wife was Anna Gjordsdatter Drefeld, died ab. 1550; their son Bjørn Andersen the Younger (+ 1532) became the most famous and important man of the family, he had many distinguished offices and was the owner of a large estate, like the old Vitskøl kloster, which he rebuilt and gave the name Bjørnsholm. He was married twice, first time to Sidsel Ulfstand (+ 1556), second time to Karen Friis. Bjørn Andersen died in 1583 and was buried in Værum church. The stone in Ørsted church with a relief of him and his two wives must be considered a memorial stone. It was surely Bjørn Andersen, who built the old, now disappeared main building. It had three wings in two storeys, a chapel and was surrounded by broad moats. A pole-bridge led across the moats and via a gate-vault people came into the stable-yard and from there into the castle yard. Above the castle-gate was a stone with Bjørn Andersen, Karen Friis and Sidsel Ulfstand's names and coat of arms. The farm building was placed outside the moats. The widow Karen Friis probably continued the building-works, ; in 1587 the king ordered to bring her 200 Gotland beams.

The son of first marriage Jakob Bjørn inherited Stenalt after his father's death. He was a widely travelled and learned man, but possibly not as learned as his wife Anne Krabbe (+ 1618) , a daughter of Erik Krabbe of Bustrup and wife, Margarethe Reventlow of Søbo. When Jakob Bjørn died childless already in 1596 (in 1598 his wife put a stone on his grave in Ørsted church) Anna lived alone 22 years at Stenalt, which she probably made great efforts to embellish. She placed in the garden a runestone from a nearby hill, and here saw Ole Worm it the same year, in which the learned noble lady died. Worm made his notes about the inscription on the stone; later the stone disappeared again, but in 1913 a large piece was found in a stony ditch at the farm Christianslund; the stone was placed in the park upon a lawn in front of the main building; it is from the Viking Period, and the inscription says:" Asser Stufs raised this stone after his son Broder." From the nearby demolished Essenbæk kloster the learned noble lady, who collected antiquities, bought two granite pillars, which she let bring to Stenalt and equip with the letters F.A.K. (Fru Anne Krabbe) and the year 1580. The pillars came later to Randers where they were placed in Tøjhushaven. In her art chamber at the farm Anna Krabbe had among other things kept Chr. I.'s rejsealter (altar to bring on travels). It is now at the National Museum.

Ørsted church was magnificently furnished by Anna Krabbe, who besides several other things gave the very pretty pews, of which especially the richly carved manor pews from 1607 are special with pictures of the giver and her late husband in the fields. In 1613 she decorated the altar with a painted panel, upon which is a picture of the Holy Communion and in the frame the paternal and maternal coat of arms of Anna Krabbe and Jakob Bjørn. After Anna Krabbe's death in 1618 Stenalt was sold to Enevold Kruse of Hjermitslevgård etc., and after his death in 1621 hiw widow Else Marsvin stayed at the farm. In 1632 shortly before her death she gave a pretty wafer-box to Ørsted church. Her son's son Tyge Tygesen Kruse, became three years old the owner of Stenalt, which his mother Karen Sehested managed for him. In 1638 she let in Randers make an altar piece to Ørsted church for some money, which Else Marsvin owed to the church. Tyge Kruse died unmarried already in 1649, and his mother inherited Stenalt; she brought this estate to her second husband Jørgen Seefeld of Visborggård (+ 1666).

at Randers fjord

After him his son Christen Seefeld (* 1641), married to Lene Rosenkrantz, became the owner of Stenalt. Christen Seefeld bought kaldsret (rights) to Ørsted, Estruplund and Voer churches and built in 1678 a large, brick-built barn for the farm. In 1685 he gave an ore-chandelier to Ørsted church. His eldest son Mogens (+ 1739) took over the farm when underage, but already in 1713 it was conveyed to a brother-in-law Axel Bille of Ørumgård, married in 1704 to Sophie Seefeld of Stenalt. The family Bille was the owners until 1787, where Stenalt long before had been given to a son-in-law greve Frederik Christian Schack of Giesegård and other estate, who in 1786 made a contract on Stenalt with his son Preben Brahe Schack. The new owner broke down Bjørn Andersen's old interesting farm and built a new main building and lessee-building. He had been in Italy and had achieved a taste for the Palladian villa style. The building with its flat roof and slender windows in the upper storey seems foreign in the Danish surroundings.

At the same time as the building-work of the main building grev Schack established a beautiful garden, where a special sight is an old oak tree, about 5 m circumference. The garden was also marked by his stay in italy. He did not keep his estate for many years. In 1810 he conveyed the farm to merchant in Kristianssand, generalkrigskommissær Bern Holm. For the next almost 150 years Stenalt went from hand to hand, until it in 1939 was sold to Statens Jordlovsudvalg, who after an outparcelling sold the main parcel to lessee Erik Blach. In 1956 he sold the estate to landowner Axel Bie-Nielsen. He has since his taking over let the main building restore and modernized the farm-buildings.

Source: Danske slotte og herregårde, bd. 14, Djursland, 1967, Stenalt af museumsinspektør dr. phil. Otto Norn.

goats at Stenalt.

Stenalt today:
The about 700 year old estate, Stenalt, at Ørsted on North Djursland has 470 hectare farm land, 223 hectare forest and 50 hectare reeds. The whole concern was changed into ecology in 1998. Owners today: Arne Fremmich and Dorte Mette Jensen.
Stenalt Gods is today the base of an (for Denmark) untraditional livestock of 700 milking goats and ab. 450 kids. The milking goats are controlled , i.e. each goat's milking output is known. The goats deliver milk for goat's cheese, which is made at the ecological dairy Søvind at Horsens. Also goat's meat is sold, which is extremely healthy - and sausages and sliced cold meat. The goats are from the Swiss race Saanen.

photo Stenalt 2003: grethe bachmann

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