Saturday, August 28, 2010

Østergård, Salling, North Jutland, Viborg amt.

Østergård, ab. 19 km north of Skive
Åsted sogn, Harre herred, Viborg amt.

Queen Margrethe I spent the first half of the year 1408 in Jutland, where she with a large entourage of trusted men went from place to place. Whereever she came, new crowds of clericals and secular gentlemen joined her entourage for a shorter or longer period, partly to bask themselves in her favour , partly to settle important business, which was not always of the most pleasant sort. In the month of January the queen stayed in the old royal town Viborg. From here she crossed Thy, where she guested Ørum castle and the now long gone Hillerslevhus - and after having visited Børglum Kloster she arrived in Hjørring in the month of March, from where she continued her travel south to Ålborg, Randers and Århus. At Midsummer-time queen Margrethe was back at Zealand, probably very satisfied with the achieved results. She had won back much royal estate, which was lost during the turbulent times, and she had secured the friendship of the clergy by giving them costy gifts.

Among those who had to show up at the meeting with the queen in Viborg was "Niels Mikkelsen of Nissum, a knight called Krabbe" - he probably did not meet up voluntarily, since he had much on his conscience. His men had broken the church-peace at Kobberup church, and he had himself together with his maternal uncle Niels Kaas and several others repeatedly broken the thing-peace on Fjends herreds Thing. (district-thing.) He therefore had to make amend, but the "the gracious Lady" let him go, if he gave her some estate in Fiskbæk and elsewhere, which unlawfully had been taken from the Crown. If hr. Niels could have lived for another 100 years, he would have enjoyed to see that one of his descendants, rigsmarsk hr. Tyge Krabbe won back this estate by not so fine means - his greatgrandfather would probably have liked that.

Hr. Niels Krabbe returned to Nissum very bad tempered, it was not the first time the queen had been pursuing him. His fortificated castle could not secure him against her and his mighty family neither. The castle was placed north in Salling. The theory is that the small square castle bank, rising steeply from the slope east of Hinnerup Å (river) at Åsted village, which later was called Holmshøj or Sallingholm castle, was his home. It is not easy to see, why he is called "from Nissum", since this village is placed upon the other side of the river and earlier was divided from Holmshøj by both a river and a meadow. From the castle bank a road dam leads northwest out into the meadows where still are seen weak rises ; here were found heavy, driven in poles - the rests of a pile castle, which might have been the successor of the castle bank inland.

The family Krabbe is old in Salling, where it besides Nissum or Østergård owned several manors, like Lundegård at the island Fur, Hostrup, Bustrup, to which the rigsmarsk (Tyge Krabbe) wrote himself, and several others, aldso Krabbesholm. Much indicates that the old members of the family was an unruly and violent flock, who reminded about the family Brock at Gammel Estrup. This nature is also recognizable in the family's most distinguished member Tyge Krabbe, but else made the family their mark by indisputable competence and later also by having spiritual interests. The family was connected to Nissum for a long period. Niels Mikkelsen Krabbe was hardly the first member of the family who lived there - the earlier generations are fairly known - but he wasn't the last. Both his son Morten Krabbe, who was a High Court Judge and owned a rich estate, (+ ab.1483), and his son Glob Krabbe, also named Lucas Krabbe, lived in Nissum, but the old castle was abandoned. Glob Krabbe established the farm (manor) Østergård south of Åsted upon the other side of the river and built the heavy Gothic building, which still stands today. It is one of few manor buildings from the time before the reformation, which has kept its look almost unchanged up till the present.

The manor was built upon a flat, square bank, surrounded by banks and moats, which were kept water-filled by dams. The building is four-winged and includes a small yard, only 8,75 m each square. It is built in late Gothic style in bricks upon a high plinth of raw granite boulder and with a cellar under the whole two-storeyed building. It is said that an inscription was upon a beam in the yard saying that Lucas Krabbe put down the first stone for this foundation in 1516. On the gables of the south wing were earlier a couple of hanging bays , possibly "hemmeligheder" (secrets = toilets). Behind the 2-3 feet thick walls the unruly Krabbes could feel secure towards wronged class companions and peasants. When the peasants in Grevefejden (civil war) ravaged in Salling and let "the red cock"crow (fire) on the castles of their oppressors, they probably also wished to chase the squire of Østergård away from his home, but if they tried to, they probably failed. Later was no need to have a fortificated castle like this, but banks and moats were kept until the 19th century. Now is only a small rest left.

Glob Krabbe died a few years after the reformation (1543)and was buried in Åsted church, where his wife was also buried, and where a head stone reminds them. He had feuds with his peasants till the end. Their son Iver Krabbe (+ 1561), who in his youth had the family's hot blood in his veins, became a rich man, rigsråd and the holder of several important vasalries. He and later his widow bought much estate in exchange with the Crown. This estate was situated near the farm, and he also achieved free birkeret (judicial rights) of all estate in the parish a year before his death. This right followed Østergård until 1688. He probably built the last two wings of the manor.

After his death his widow fru Magdalene Banner kept the farm, she followed her husband to the grave in 1597 and was buried by his side in Åsted kirke. She had given vaults and a new pulpit to the church. It seems that she before her death gave Østergård to her daughter Anne Krabbe, who from 1580 was widow after rigsråd Axel Viffert and later was married to Erik Kaas of Vorgård in Himmerland (+ 1598). She died childless in 1625, but the heirs did not accept the inheritance. Østergård was not taken over by strangers though, it came to her sister's daughter Otte Lindenov of Borreby's widow Anne Tygesdatter Brahe, (+ 1636), and when her son Otte Ottesen Lindenov's widow fru Vibeke Clausdatter Podebusk (+ 1645) - who had a livsbrev (ownerrights for life) on the farm - in 1639 married hr. Knud Ulfeldt of Svenstrup, who was killed in the war 1657, the farm came to him and then to his stepson, kammerherre Christian Lindenov,who was amtmand (district) in Norway and the last of the Krabbe-descendants who owned the old family-farm.

Åsted church

Østergård was in a bad state after the war; 9 farms in Nissum village were destroyed. Christian Lindenov pawned Østergård to the wellknown priest at Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen, magister Erik Olufsen Torm, whose widow Søster Worm, a daughter of the famous professor Ole Worm, in 1673 took over farm and estate, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court two years later. The saga of the old nobility was over, and middle-class families moved into Glob Krabbe's old castle. During the latest century it had often been uninhabited and neglected, sometimes owned by people, who lived far away, and sometimes by poor people, who could not pay their bills. Søster Worm managed the farm by a tenant, and after her death in 1685 it came to her son-in-law Jens Henriksen, but times were unfortunate, and he ended up in big debts. He had to pay his peasants with corn and give them horses. This was expensive and he never got anything back.

In 1694 Jens Henriksen had to give up. He sold Østergård to tenant Anders Hansen Høyer at Astrup. He was an indebted man, who had 19 children with three wives, whom he hardly could give food and clothes. He stayed however at the farm until his death in 1727, and the estate went to one of his creditors, the rich mayor Christen Jensen Basballe in Århus, who let it manage by a tenant for about 20 years. It was said that when he grew old, he was so stingy that corn and bullocks piled up at the farm, because he wanted over current price for both this and that. After his death Østergård had several owners. In 1758 it was sold to Niels Andersen Qvistgård.

Qvistgård died only 5 years later, and his widow Johanne Marie Batum brought the farm to her second husband Christian Kjærulff, who in vain tried to sell it. When both he and his wife had died in 1777 in Nykøbing (Mors), where they lived for several years, Østergård was bought by his stepsons Jens og Anders Nielsen Qvistgård. The last mentioned was sole owner in 1786, since Jens had bought a farm in Himmerland. Anders Qvistgård was dependent on alcohol and once caused a scandal when drunk in Åsted kirke, but else he was seemingly a solid Jutland farmer, who took care of his estate and tried to introduce improvements. In order to have disposal over the water - which run in abundance through his meadows and moors - he outbought at a costy expense the copyholder of Nissum Water Mill and let it replace by a wind mill. This showed to be a profit, but else were his improvements hardly radical enough.

Farm buildings close to Østergård, disfiguring the old medieval castle
The ferry to the island Fur north of Åsted and Østergård.

The farm was managed by villeinage until 1805, when all the estate was sold. The main part was already in Iver Krabbe's time in Åsted parish, another part in the neighbouring parishes. While the estate was still complete, the added tiender (taxes) changed all the time. Knud Ulfeldt had a couple of churches added to the farm in 1640, but they were lost in 1673. In 1699 Anders Høyer got a deed on Åsted kirke from the king, but this did not follow the farm permanently. Anders Qvistgård owned the kirketiender (church taxes) of Åsted and Nautrup parish and held the royal taxes of the same parishes, but in 1806 only the two churches were part of the farm. Anders Qvistgård died already in 1792; the following year farm and estate came on auction and sold to Thomas Thomsen of Vindum Overgård. He had moved to Jutland from Funen some years ago, and he gradually became the owner of several big farms in Jutland.

In the beginning of the following century it was told that Østergård, Eskjær and Astrup were the only manors in Salling with a dairy. Thomsen had been a co-owner of Eskjær, the other part belonged to his relative. In 1804 Thomsen sold the whole estate, for which he had paid rigsdaler, to three speculators, who paid 100.000 rigsdaler. After a royal licence they sold the copyhold-estate and let in 1806 the main farm and the taxes go back for 56.500 rigsdaler to the previous owner, who kept it until his death in 1823, after which the wellknown studefeder (he was making bullocks fat!) Nis Nissen of Spøttrup became the owner. After him followed kammerråd Hans Tørsleff (1836-46). During the next 100 years the farm had several owners: kammerherre Ernst Emil Rosenørn (1855-71), Johan Chr. Brinck-Seidelin (1871-85), Erik Oscar Julius Hedemann of Nyholm (1885-90), Vallø Stift, who sold it in 1906 to lieutenant Axel Lemming Froberg, who owned Østergård for more than 36 years , until he sold it in 1943 to greve Adam Cyrille Knuth, Hesselbjerg. In 1945 Østergård was bought by a consortium, where J.M.Skov became the sole owner. Owners in 1966 Kristen and Kjeld Skov.

Source: Danske slotte og herregårde, bd. 12, 1966, Nordvestjylland, Østergård, by arkivar, cand.mag. S. Nygård.

Østergård i dag:
In the summer 1998 was the Danish State ready to take over the very decayed buildings. Restorations started in June 2000 with an expected finish in the castle's 500 years jubilee in 2016!

photo Østergård og Åsted 2004: grethe bachmann

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tørring church / Tørring kirke, Skodborg herred, Ringkøbing amt.

Tørring Church ab. 6 km west of Lemvig
Tørring sogn, Skodborg herred, Ringkøbing amt.

The high-placed church in Tørring has a Romanesque choir and nave with a late Gothic tower to the west. The Romanesque building is built in granite ashlar with double plinth. Both doors are bricked-up, besides are two bricked-up windows, one in the south wall of the nave, another in the choir to the north. In the south wall of the choir is a low-placed "spedalskhedsvindue"(leprosy-window) formed by two monolit cover stones. In the south wall of the nave are besides several ashlars with stone mason fields a stone with a pretty engraved cross. The original choir arch has profiled kragbånd. The nave has a beamed ceiling, and in the choir was built a cross vault in the late Gothic period. The late Gothic tower is built in monk bricks, re-used ashlars and granite boulders; it has a cross vaulted bottom room, which is furnished as a porch, since the pointed tower arch is out-walled with a door. A very low flat-curved door in the northeast corner of the room leads to the stair tower. The walls of the tower are mostly face walled, but the north gable still stands with six cut højblændinger(blænding = drawn-back area) and visible foot timber. At the reformation was in the north side of the nave inserted large flat-curved windows while the south side are from the late 1800s, when the gable top of the choir was re-walled in small bricks.

The communion table is covered in a panel from the middle of the 1600s with portal fields and baluster profiled pilasters. The altar piece is a simple Renaissance triptychon from 1601, given by Ove Lykke. It has paintings from 1673 in the wings. In the large field is a simple painting from ab. 1850 and in the top field a painting from 1814. A Baroque chalice from ab.1675, a Viborg-work by Peder Rasmussen. Heavy Baroque candelabres ab. 1650. A Romanesque granite font in West Jutland sepal-type. A small south German bowl ab. 1550-75 . A pulpit in Renaissance, ab. 1625, with volut pillars and portal fields, where in 1922 were painted copies of the Evangelispictures from the pulpit in Bøvling Church. Bell from 1506 with a long minuskelinscription in Latin, which mentions John the Baptist who is the saint of the church. It was probably cast by Peter Hansen. In the foot wall of the tower are two Romanesque granite grave stones and in the tower room two worn-out 1700s grave stones.

Vadskærgård belonged in the 1300s to Christiern Nielsen, who sold it to Jep Olsen Lunge. Later it belonged to Niels Friis, who is mentioned 1522, his son Godske Friis 1540-84 and his son Jørgen F. inherited the farm and bought likewise more estate for it, before he died unmarried 1661. It then went to his brothers' sons Otte Friis of Astrup and Mogens Friis, who later founded Frijsenborg and in 1662 bought Otte's halfpart of V. and some estate. In 1663 he exchanged the farm to rigsadmiral Ove Gjedde's heirs, of whom the son amtmand Knud Giedde (later of Hastrup, + 1707) became the sole owner. Later owners: Lange, Gjerum Holm, Levetzau, Dahl, Vadum, Gleerup, Andrup, Nyboe, Agger. Outparcelled by Jordlovsudvalget in the 1950s. Main parcel was owned by A. Lindemann and F. Lind Pedersen. The main building was built in 1860 by J.C. Agger.

In 1497 Søren Stygge of Søgård at Holmsland gave his rights in his farm "Sø" in Tørring sogn (parish) to Gudum kloster. In 1499 it was owned by Erik Ottesen Rosenkrantz of Boller. in1770 it was under Vadskærgård.

The main farm Sø was situated at the eastern section of Hornsø, where is seen an oblong rise just at the foot of the slope. When building a border dike here were found granite boulders and monk bricks, and at the edge of the lake found oak posts. The visible traces on the spot does not tell anything about the disappeared plan's character. A little east of this was a water-mill.

Upon a field at Halgård was according to Resens Atlas found a sacred well, Hr. Rafns Kild.

In a hill, named "Trollehøy" at Gjellerø (now Gjeller Odde) was said to be found in ab. 1600 a large bunch of "lædermønter" (leather coins) and gold coins.

From disappeared farms in the parish is Stjerneborg (1581 Sternborg); Brandsgård (1642 Brandtzgaard), Sig (1664 Siig); Gamsmark ( 1664 Gamsmarck) and Bremsløv (1664 Bremszløff). Furthermore the house Kneberholm (1688 Kneberholms Huusz). Underbjerg was also earlier named Tørringbjerg (1595 Under Thøringbierigh).

The railway Vemb-Lemvig-Thyborøn runs through the parish

A railway station named Victoria Street Station

Names in the Middle Ages and 1600s:

Tørring ( 1330-48 Tiringh, 1482 Tøring); Balleby ( 1523 Bolliby, 1595 Balbye); Gransgårde (1595 Grandtzbøll, 1664 Granndtzgaard); Underbjerg ( 1642 Under bierig); Lomforbæk (1595 Lombforbeck); Søgårde ( * 1462 Søegaardtz jordt); Kokholm (1547 Kockholm); Kallesø (* 1499 Kalsøø, 1558 Kallidsøe); Vadskærgård ( * ab. 1400 Vaseker, Vasekær, 1531 Waskiergaard, Weskergord); Lykkesgård (1628 Lyckisgaard); Ager (1638 Auer); Halegård (1638 Halgaard); Eskebæk (1638 Eskibeck); Nørkær (1638 Ved Kiær); Sejbjerg (1638 Seibiere); Lindskrog (1664 Lindz Krog); Stor (1664 Stoer); Veje (1614 Veye); Poldbjerg (1604 Pølborrig, 1688 Polborre boell); Bæksgård (1638 Begsgaard); Lovmandsgård ( 1549 Mattis Laamannds gaardt, 1638 Loumandsgaard); Hummersgård (1549 Las Hommers gårde,1638 Hummersgaardt).

Listed prehistorics:
18 hills, mainly on the hills north and east of Tørring Church, partly east and southeast of Kokholm. Several are rather large, like: 3 hills, i.e. Bavnehøj north of the church, Kløvenhøj at Kokholm and 3 hills west of Kallesø.
Demolished or destroyed: 27 hills. - In the small moor Sortkær southeast of Kallesø was found a clay vessel with 1800 amber pearls from the beginning of late Stone Age. In a hill at Nr. Kokholm was found a very rich grave from early Bronze Age, with sword and skaftehulsøkse ( axe) in bronze.

Source: Trap Danmark, Ringkøbing amt,1965.

photo Tørring kirke/ Thyborøn jernbane 2003: grethe bachmann

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lerkenfeldt, Himmerland, Viborg amt.

Lerkenfeldt, 29 km north of Viborg
Vester Bølle sogn, Rinds herred, Viborg amt.

There are many manors which through centuries were in the ownership of the same family. It is neither unusual if a manor house for more than 2-300 years was in the ownership of civilians, but it is rare when a manor for more than 150 years was inherited in the same civil family like it happened at Lerkenfeldt. On 19. March 1792 three brethren Kieldsen bought this main farm with belonging peasant-farms - and one brother's great-great-grandchildren are the owners today.

The first name of the farm was Bonderup - actually it was one of three farms, situated upon the later main farms' lands. The other two farms were Kokholm and Overgård. Thanks to a rich collection of documents, hidden upon the farm itself, its history is fairly known back to the 15th century, when it was not yet a center in a large estate, but the owners were lavadelsmænd ( of low nobility), whose birth and family name is not known today. A man Per Gødiksen sold in 1455 all rights his wife had inherited in Bonderup after her late husband Oluf or Ulf Jensen, but the real owner was Jens Haning. His son was Haning Jensen, whose widow Inge Jepsdatter outparcelled the small estate. First she sold in 1496 Kokholm to her brother , Oluf Jepsen, who in 1498 passed it on to a man of a more wellknown family, Erik Ottesen Rosenkrantz.

He had already bought Gedsted Mill and the fishing in Gedsted Å(river) from fru Birgitte Poulsdatter at Refsnæs, those were properties later belonging to Bonderup up till present time. It seems there was doubt if fru Inge in 1496 was allowed to sell Kokholm since she had remarried after Haning Jensen's death to an ufri (not free= a peasant belonging to the lord of the manor) named Christiern Ørn. Thus she had wasted her rights to own free estate. The wellknown high court judge Niels Clementsen of Aunsbjerg got this right, when he bought Bonderup from the husband and wife in the year 1509, but the ownership was here like in many other places questionable.

Enevold Jensen of Visborg appears in 1547 with demands on a meadow in Kokholm's field without being proved right towards Christen Friis of Ågård, who obviously had inherited Kokholm and the mill from his wife, a daughter's daughter of Erik Rosenkratnz, but suddenly, in 1554, Niels Lange (Munk) of Kjærgård was the owner of both Bonderup, Overgård and Kokholm and the mill, and he exchanged all the estate to Mariager kloster. The vasal, who negotiated on behalf of the kloster , the wellknown Jørgen Lykke, was probably not aware that he became owner of the estate himself, but already the next year Mariager kloster transferred both farm and mill and other belonging estate in the neighbourhood as a gift, because he had rebuilt the kloster after a fire, and in 1561 the king confirmed the gift-letter.

Jørgen Lykke (+ 1583) - who in his youth wrote himself of Hverringe manor and was a part of the Funen nobility - became gradually very well acclimatized in Jutland, where he collected much estate. His låsebrev (letter of property) from 1577 delivers a summary of these farms, among others the main farm Bonderupgård (Kokholm and Overgård had disappeared at that point) with belonging peasant-farms, almost 50 farms, especially in the village Svingelbjerg and Vester Bølle. He had bought several fæstegårde (copyhold farms) in an exchange with the Crown. The property-letter mentions also three other main farms with adjoining land, Ovegård in Ove sogn,(parish), Haslegård in Als sogn og first of all Overgård in Udbyneder sogn, which was the head quarters and to which Jørgen Lykke wrote himself.

It is obvious today that he took a special interest in Bonderup. The legend says that he took the stones from the ruined Svingelbjerg kirke. Even though he was allowed to break down Svingelbjerg church to use the materials for a repair in Vester Bølle church, there are still several carved ashlars in the walls of Lerkenfeldt, and they probably origin from a Romnanesque church building. The legend is also right when it tells about Jørgen Lykke and the vicar hr. Mads in Ullits, who had had Svingelbjerg as a parish-of ease and therefore suffered an economic loss, when the parish was transferred to Vester Bølle. He scolded Jørgen Lykke in his sermons and called him a disturber of God's house, a tyrant and much more, which made the lord of the manor take legal action , and the vicar had to commit himself not to talk like that in the future.

He did not keep that promise however, and Jørgen Lykke started a new process and condemned him to lose his head, which was carried out. He was decapitated between his two churches on the heath road between Ullits and Foulum, where the place still was known in 1738. This was told by Christen Sørensen Thestrup ,who was the first to know Rinds herred's Chronicle, and the Jutland author Steen Steensen Blicher later wrote a novel about the case. It is not possible to know today, how the facts are about this claimed judicial murder, since all authentic documents have gone, but it became Jørgen Lykke's undying fame of the neighbourhood. Thestrup was of the opinion that since his descendants were struck hard by fate, it must be God's righteous punishment.

Only one of Jørgen Lykke's sons, Henrik Lykke, attained a high age, so he inherited his father and became a very rich man. He owned Bonderup together with his sister Ide Lykke, who was married to Valdemar Parsberg, and after her death in 1618 their daughters inherited each a third of the estate. One of the son-in-laws Claus Daa (1579-1641), married to Ingeborg Parsberg, who was born at Bonderup, first outbought his brother-in-law Hans Skram and bought the last third from Verner Parsberg, to whom the third brother-in-law Iver Lykke of Eskjær had pawned his rights.

Claus Daa played a role in Chr. IV's rule and became an admiral although he was somewhat in opposition to the king, who was not quite content with his leadership of the navy. His son, the herostraticly famous Valdemar Daa (1616-91) inherited Bonderup. It was here he used alchymi to find lapis philosophorum (philosopher's stone) and both Lerkenfeld in Jutland and Borreby at Zealand were gradually ruined by debt. In 1681 he lost both his main farms. He walked on foot from Borreby, although Ove Ramel, who had levies execution on Borreby, offered him a free stay for life as a brother and friend, but after having lived for period in a farm house near Skelskør (Zealand) Valdemar Daa went to Jutland. In 1677 he had to leave Bonderup.

The high court judge Peder Madsen Lerche (1642-99) had finally reached the goal he had aimed at, namely to became the squire of Bonderupgård. He had bought several debts from the ruined alchymist - and at last he bought the main farm from jægermester Wolf Blome, to whom it had been laid out in 1677. It was in a very bad state at that time. The new owner was born a civilian, he was a son of the rural dean in Nyborg, but had in 1670 achieved royal letter to coat of armors. He was a wealthy man, and he succeeded in gathering the spread estate again - and was not particular about the means. Lerche was often involved in lawsuits, among others with the vicar in Ullits, whom he however was not able to treat like Jørgen Lykke had treated his predecessor. The vicar, magister Stistrup, wrote a venomous spite verse about his mortal enemy Jørgen Lykke, when he was brought to his funeral in Viborg cathedral, while Lykke's wife, who had died a few yars before, had to be content with her grave in Vester Bølle church.

Vester Bølle church, stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto

Bonderup has still got its name Lerkenfeldt, which the high court judge was allowed to name it after his taking over, and in 1684 he achieved birkeret (judicial rights) of the estate; in the same year he bought five churches from the king. In 1695 he had Lerkenfeldt estate made an entailed estate, which he willed to his cousin, gehejmeråd Vincens Lerche, (1666-1742), who was not actually in need of this gift. He owned several large manors, Rygård at Funen, Frydendal at Zealand and the barony Rosendal in Norway, and he gradually achieved a superfluity of offices and titles. He mostly resided in the capital and transferred already in 1735 all his Jutland estate to his son Christian Lerche, who in 1742 became the owner of almost all Kalundborg district, an estate where only the county Frijsenborg was larger.

He also achieved the title of greve (count), but thanked no to establish a lensgrevskab (vasalry/county) . Since he had no heirs, his estate would go to the state. Instead he had his Zealand estate made the entailed estate Lerchenborg and was allowed to exchange the entailed estate Lerkenfeldt with a fideikommiskapital.(entailed estate capital) Therefore he sold in 1743 the 650 hectare estate to general Wulf Caspar von Lüttichau (1704-65), and after his widow Lucia Magdalene Ochsen had died in 1775 (they are buried in two marble sarcophagi in Vester Bølle church) it was bought in an auction by the sons Christian Cæsar and Joachim Lüttichau, from whom the first mentioned in 1779 became the sole owner after having outbought his late brother's heirs in 1777.

Christian Cæsar Lüttichau (1745-97) was an officer of the cavalry and had left the military with title of major. Both the major and the general were remembered for a long time in the neighbourhood of Lerkenfeldt - and not for the good.

"God knows where your poor soul has gone
it never came to heaven"

says a song after the general's death and the folklore let him not find peace in his grave either. He haunted Lerkenfeldt. Thanks to the folklorist Evald Tang Kristensen, who visited the farm in the 1880s, many stories have been preserved for posterity. People said about the major that there was a lot of devilish things going on in his time - and they told about the general that he used the horsewhip on a girl, who would not marry the man he had chosen for her, and "that poor girl was wearing very thin clothes".

A fearless farmer was especially remembered by people. He had put Lüttichau in his place. When he came to the manor and was admitted into the strict squire, he went quickly across the floor to the window. "What do you look for you dog?" said the general " Well I would just have a look how far down the ground is, for one of us has to go there!" and then the general dared not lay hands on him. It was told that it was the same farmer who rode the wooden horse at Lerkenfeldt, (and it was the last time the wooden horse was used here). He was put upon the horse and stones were tied to his feet. He sat there for a while. Then he said: "Shame on that hack, it's not able to walk at all. I have never seen a miserable hack like that." And then he broke the head off the wooden horse with his clenched fist and went down from it himself, got hold of a big staff and broke the beast in two. A new wooden horse never appeared. The man who told the story said that the rests of the old horse were kept among some other old stuff on the loft of Lerkenfeldt. The reliability of these stories are supported by all statements. Thestrup, who was a birkedommer ( local judicial rights) at the estate, renounced at one his position, when Lüttichau bought Lerkenfeldt, because he was mean to his peasants and unjust in his judgments of the peasants during the birketing.

It is also told how the major lost his estate against his will. Some dealers came along, they were the sons of a selvejerbonde (a peasant who owned his farm himself) in Gundestrup. They wanted to buy bullocks. They all sealed the bargain with a drink, and when the major was drunk he said:" Now you have bought my bullocks - you can buy the farm too." And he said that several times. "Well maybe we would like to buy that too ,"said one brother, Mikkel. "How much do you want?" The major wanted 70.000 rigsdaler for the whole lot. He never imagined they were able to pay. Later Mikkel told that he would not let this major get off so easily. And the brothers took the bargain. Lüttichau tried to offer them all the bullocks they had bought in order to replace the deal, but in vain. And it is a fact that the three brothers, Mikkel, Jens and Peder Kieldsen bought farm and estate for 73.000 rigsdaler in the year 1792.

Jens Kieldsen was co-owner only until 1795. Peder and Mikkel Kieldsen (1756-1819) owned Lerkenfeldt together until Mikkel's death, but only Mikkel had resided there, and his widow Ane Dorthea Skow became the sole owner after his death. People said Lerkenfeldt was surrounded by mystery, it was said that Mikkel had been just as strict to his peasants as the Lüttichaus - and he had only escaped the terrible death of kissing "The Blue Virgin", because he lied himself dead. "The Blue Virgin" was a mysterious execution machine, only existing in peoples' imagination. When his funeral was, there were only stones in the coffin. He later hid on the farm although people often saw him. But he had to remain "dead" and his wife wrote herself a widow. A story like that is of course pure invention and one of those legends told in other places as well, and a legend which at Lerkenfeldt was connected to both Mikkel Kieldsen and the general - and also to Jørgen Lykke.

Mikkel's son once said that their forefathers had done enough harm - he did not wish to be like them. He managed the estate for his mother until he became the owner himself in 1831. In the 1840s he had villeinage replaced, and from 1844 he sold the peasant-estate to the copy-holders on the best conditions. He was landvæsenskommisær (agricultureal commissioner) but declined the title as kammerråd (councilor). From his 10 children with Mette Faurschou the second-youngest Olaf Hilmar Kjeldsen (1850-1930) inherited Lerkenfeldt after his mother's death. He had been the manager, while she lived, and after his death the farm went to Mathias Kjeldsen (1879-1955), who had been tenant since 1923. Lerkenfeldt was from 1955 owned together by Eva Mette Johanne Kjeldsen, née Kjeldsen, married to first lieutenant Hans Olaf Agerup Kjeldsen.

Lerkenfeldt Å (river) at Lerkenfeldt

The main building is the first building built at the farm from Jørgen Lykke''s period. Besides was a 7 loft high gatehouse at the castle bank. It was probably also built by Jørgen Lykke as a memory of his wife's stay at Hessel (Djursland) for 7 years, while he was abroad - one storey was built each year. People in the community kept their possessions safe in this building during svenskekrigene (war Sweden-Denmark) - "when Valdemar Daa left in one shoe and one boot" as people told. The castle bank is also strange with its plinth stones- the stones said to origin from Svingelbjerg church; it has a rectangular shape, but broader along the main building; upon the corners are curved projections, traces of towers.

The main building is also interesting, oak half-timbered with poles through both storeys. The long narrow wing (ab. 7 x 51 m) stands upon a high barrel-vaulted cellar, where the jails mentioned by the old folks possibly are. The west wing was earlier called the church, because it was built by stones from Svingelbjerg church, and the northern section of the wing really seems built as a chapel with eastern and western gables. The east wing is remarkable, because it is built close to the heavy ring wall which surrounded the plan and which is only preserved here - findings of shaped stones with fresco decorations in yellow, red and black show that it was richly ornamented.

The Rococo fireplace in the great hall has the initials of Lüttichau and his wife. The bridal bed of the general was still in 1930 placed in a chamber, which was said to be haunted. The folklorist Evald Tang Kristensen, who slept there for a few nights, told honestly that he wasn't feeling well about this. There is also a legend of an immured virgin at Lerkenfeldt, and a female skeleton was actually found in a piece of curved wall in a corner of the tower cellar. Lerkenfeldt still has the mark of the Middle Ages, but is mentioned as one of Denmark's few late Gothic mansions with one of the popular circular stair towers from the Renaissance. Jørgen Lykke's old castle is still one of our most picturesque and evocative buildings from the great period of the aristocracy in the 16th century.

Source: Danske slotte og herregårde, bd. 11, Himmerland og Ommersyssel, Lerkenfeldt af forfatteren Mogens Lebech, 1966.

photo August 2010: grethe bachmann