Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gram Castle/ Gram Slot, Sønderjylland, Haderslev amt.

Gram slot, Sønderjylland
ab. 25 km west of Haderslev 
Gram sogn, Frøs herred, Haderslev amt.

The district around Gram is an old cultural area, and in Gram parish was a large farm in the Middle Ages. In the beginning of the 1230s - while the main part of the document was made in king Valdemar's Jordebog - was this farm the king's estate, it was as big as 3-4 common peasant-farms.  Like other properties of the king the farm was also the Crown's estate. Gram played early an important role as a castle, and its strategic situation close to the beaten track, and close to an important crossing  by a river meant that it was fortificated early, but it also meant that it played a part in the many battles and wars, which swept over this part of the country in the Middle Ages.

At that time was the farm placed about 3 km longer to the northwest. Here is still seen the old and very delapidated castle bank, which held the oldest fortificated Gram. According to a tradition the castle was built in 1314 by hertug Erik of Sønderjylland, who had the farm in custody. The bank lies desolate in the southwestern outskirts of Gram Storskov (forest) out in Hornbæk eng (meadow) like a circular, low rise, only a few km from the road. 

The hertugs (dukes) of Sønderjylland were in periods of the 1200s at Gram - and in 1317 the king renounced all the Crown's estate in Sønderjylland. In 1347 is mentioned Jonas Iversen Vind of Gram, he was probably bailiff at the farm, maybe for the Holstein grafs, who at that time owned most of the Jutland peninsula. According to the historian Huitfeldt it was endowed to Erland Kalv, who in 1372 was at Riberhus as the hand of the Holstein grafs and fought against the lord at Gram, maybe because the lord was loyal to the king, or maybe it was just a local feud. During this feud decided the people of the town Ribe at their city-thing that no one in the town were allowed to bring goods or commodities to Gram. An immigrate from the Rheinland tried to bring some contraband to Gram, and this cost him his life. The most interesting in this connection was that the article he brought to Gram was a mixture of sulphur and salpetre, named "bøssekrud" (gunpowder), and the story about this affair is one of the oldest stories about the use of gunpowder in Denmark. Gram must at that point have been very strongly fortificated, since a castle like Riberhus considered it an opponent.

Supposedly had king Valdemar Atterdag during some of his reign Gram in his hands, but after his death the control went to the Holsteiners, and hertug Gerhard VI could in 1394 give Gram herred (district) as a pawned vasalry to the mighty Henneke Limbek of Tørning, who already earlier seems to have been in control of Gram castle.  In the beginning he had the castle as a vasalry, but later he and his son became the owners of Gram. Henneke Limbek was a son of Valdemar Atterdag's drost Claus Limbek and like him he was a political opportunist. He followed hertug Gerhard on the expedition to Ditmarsken og was killed here at his master's side in 1404. Henneke Limbek resided mostly at Tørning, he let Gram be managed by bailiffs - in 1398 is mentioned væbner Henrik Raspe. In 1399 Henneke Limbek is written on two deeds "of Gram", which indicates that he also resided here in periods.

The son Claus Limbek the Young, who took over Gram, was alike his father and grandfather. He also followed alternating political lines, soon against king Erik of Pommern - and at last the king summoned him for treason at Gram herred's Thing and in front of his bridge at Tørning, but since he did not arrive, he was summoned the second time. Claus Limbek now joined openly the Holsteiners, since he in 1421 from hertug Henrik had a livsbrev (letter for life) on four districts of Tørning , the so-called Tørning vasalry. This was an acknowledgement from the grafs in their role as hertugs of Schleswig. The break with the king was not possible to mend now, and Claus Limbek had to defend hinself at Tørning against the king's armies. He died a few years later when Tørning vasalry in 1428 with a pawn of 4.550 mark was transferred by the hertugs Gerhard and Adolf to hr. Henrik Ahlefeldt, who was married to his sister Catharine.

Gram disappeared from the Limbek family, since Claus Limbek probably did not leave any children,  but it was not Henrik Ahlefeldt who owned Gram. A few years after the last Limbek had died, it was Joakim Bjørnsen Bjørn from the wellknown Funen noble-family and probably son of queen Margrethe's faithful man, the knight Bjørn Olufsen Bjørn, who became the lord of Gram. After his death in ab. 1467 Gram went with his daughter Sophie to Tielluf (Ditlev) Reventlow from the Holstein line of the family, which now owned Gram for about 100 years, son after father.

Ditlev Reventlow was an energetic politician and collector of estate. After his death Gram was inherited by his son Joachim Reventlow who died in 1519 and was followed by the son Johan (+ 1563). The last Reventlow left only daughters, and Gram then came into the hands of a son-in-law Ditlev Buchwald of Pronstorf in Holstein. From his time is kept more information about the conditions at the estate than before. At the main farm were 150 oxes and 50 cows besides many horses, young cattle and sheep  - and in the forests were fattened up about 1000 oldensvin. (pigs living from mast). Furthermore were several farms, a mill and an inn  
a part of the estate.

Rhododendron in the park

The younger sons of Ditlev Buchwald were given Gram as their paternal inheritance. At this point the farm Nybøl was taken out as an independent property, which was the cause of century-long feuds between the owners of the two farms. From 1585 the owner of Gram was Christoffer Buchwald, who was called "Christoffer the Tall". In 1585-1630 were made economical improvements at Gram, and the main land was three- or four-doubled . Christoffer Buchwald was followed in 1614 by his son Ditlev Buchwald, under whom Gram became very indebted.  He sold (probably in the year 1638) the estate to Christian IV, who shortly after transferred it to the strange adventurer Dionysius von Podewils, who had been married to Christoffer Buchwalds' daughter Anne. 

Von Podewils was the most interesting owner of Gram since the Limbek-family's time. He was born in 1590 in Pommeranian and was from a noble family. He had in his youth been on many foreign universities and had travelled all over Europe. When he was 26 years old, he served as a hofmarskal by hertug Hans the Young of Sønderborg, 2 years later by hertug Adolf of Gottorp and later by the Gottorp hertug Frederik III. At this time Christian IV was  aquainted with him and valued him, he made him hofmarskal in 1634 by den udvalgte prins ( crownprince), where he was given the job to manage his wedding to princess Magdalene Sibylle.  In this period he became the owner of his first wife's paternal farm Gram. Ab. 1641 he gave up his office by the crownprince and crownprincess and was until his death serving the king as a very used diplomatic negotiator. 

He still had a good relation to the crownprince, and he died on  a travel with him in 1647 in Dresden. He left his wife of second marriage, Cathrine Hedevig  Ahlefeldt from Søgaard (+ 1680). He had in his home at Gram an excellent library, which was destroyed by the Swedes in 1644, and the Swedish vandalism at the estate shook Podewil's not especially strong economy. His son from second marriage Gregers von Podewils was only a child at his father's death. The family had to sell Gram at a compulsory sale in January 1664 to rigsgreve Christoffer Rantzau, but he transferred it already the next day to rigsfeltherre Hans Schack of Møgeltønder, in whose male line it stayed until 1821.

When Hans Schack took over Gram a new and bright period began in the historiy of the ancient farm. He was an energetic collector of estate and a wise administrator. His history actually belongs to Schackenborg castle, since Gram was considered a small estate. He bought at once some peasant-estate and started negotiations with king Frederik III about buying a large number of farms and houses in Haderslev amt, which belonged to the Crown. In June 1664 he bought 68 farms and houses, which were called Ny Gram (New Gram) but the farms were in a bad condition after the Swedish wars -  and only a rich man like Hans Schack was able to make the estate alive again. The estate was now almost doubled and much better off. Later in 1673 gave Christian V  Hans Schack the churches in Gram and Fole and the yearly income from these, which actually was a small income.  

The building at Gram was in a very bad condition when Hans Schack took over. At that time Gram had already been moved from the old castle bank. In the eastern wing of the present three-winged castle are rests of a building in late Gothic style. Hans Schack rebuilt Gram, and his and his wife's coat of arms are seen on a sandstone-tablet in the front of the building. He died in 1676 and was followed by his son Otto Didrik, lensgreve of Schackenborg (+ 1683). In fact there was a competition between Gram and  the main residence Schackenborg. Gram was more cosy and with a more idyllic situation, several owners resided for long periods at Gram -  and the place was always used as a dower house. Otto Didrik Schacks' widow, the spiritual and energetic Sophie Dorothea, born Marschalck, lived here after 1683. She had a close friendship with the members of the royal house,especially the women,  and she was very popular far and wide. The kurfyrstinde (kurfyrst = Elector) of Hannover wanted in 1702 to have her as a member of her court-staff, but no until two years later she gave up her peaceful life at Gram and became overhofmesterinde by queen dowager Charlotte Amalie. 

Grevinde Sophie Dorothea loved Gram and did much to make the place prettier. She was interested in the garden. It was in fashion during this period. She extended it and decorated it with avenues, terasses and all kinds of water fountains, even a water-fall. In the end of the middle avenue she built an Italian salon with a grotto. From the kitchen garden lead an avenue to a small grove with lovely walking paths. In the castle lake she had a large rowboat, it was large enough to hold a dinner table for 20 persons. This knowledge about Gram is due to an enthusiastic story from an intelligent traveller, the British envoy Vernon, who visited Gram in 1702. He is filled with admiration of the garden, where he found the prettiest promenades he had ever seen, and he is not less enthusiastic about the garden's creator Sophie Dorothea. He is more than taken in by the beautiful and natural way in which he - although not invited - was recieved, and he acknowledges her spirit and learning. Sophie Dorothea died shortly after having moved to Copenhagen in 1707, only 51 years of age, and the eldest son, Hans Schack the Young, became the owner, but 3 years later his wife died in childbirth at Gram after having given birth to the future lensgreve Otto Didrik. 

Anne Sophie, born Rantzau, became Hans Schack's second wife, and she gave more than anyone else lustre to Gram. She removed Gram from the lensgrevskab  by in 1736 buying it from her stepson, the lensgreve at Schackenborg. She let do some thorough rebuild of Gram and gave it its  present look. From her time origins the fine fir-planting in the park- the oldest firs in Denmark. She became a widow, when she was only 30 years old,  and during the 41 years she still lived she became one of the 18th century's greatest collectors of estate in the country .In the same year when she became the owner of Gram she bought from admiral C.C.Gabel the Zealand properties Giesegaard, Spanager and Ottestrup. In 1752 she bought Juellund and two years later Nybøl, which thus again was reunited with Gram. In Copenhagen she bought the Thott-palace and one of the Amalienborg-palaces , where she finished the palace, which later was called Christian IX's palace. She also bought a farm in Ribe.     

This energetic lady was very strict towards her peasants. She overburdened them with villeinage-work and tried to raise their taxes. The peasants however were stubborn and demanded their rights and protested by striking. She used the economic and judicial power she had as a landlord, but it seems that she did not use violent steps. The peasants' hatred had grown so strong that she after her death was referred to as "the evil grevinde". She had built several schools for the village children at the Gram estate, but this was not enough to reconcile the peasants. In her last years she wanted to sell her farms in Sønderjylland and sold them in 1759  to her stepson's son, lensgreve Hans Schack, whom she wanted to leave the Amalienborg-palace. Hans Schack told her that he could not afford this palace, and the old lady became angry and offered to rebuy the estates he had just bought from her. At last he let her have the estates again and took over the Amalienborg-palace. But the old lady could not forget and forgive. A few days before her death on 28. Septemer 1760 she made a will where all her estate in Sønderjylland and at Zealand had to be inherited by a brother of Hans Schack, namely greve Frederik Christian Schack (born 1736) and the will said that if he died without heirs the properties at Zealand had to go to Frederik's Hospital and Gram and Nybøl to Ribe Hospital. They must no go to Hans Schack at Schackenborg!

Grev Frederik Christian Schack was heavily in debt and the inheritance came to him as a lovely surprise, although he could not have the estate until its debt had been paid. The administration of Gram  succeeded however to get rid of the debt. In 1773 took grev Frederik over. He had a special interest in the garden and drafted some gardeners from abroad. In those years came some radical general improvements for the farmers and peasants . When Schack in 1774 had managed a contract with the peasants, he leased out Gram and Nybøl. Gram's fields were now split up in parcels, which were leased out to a tenant. In 1777 his estates were changed into the entailed estate Giesegaard and this Zealand manor became his residence. Gram was after this closely connected to Giesegaard. He died in 1790, and until 1798 were his properties administered for his underage heir by his widow grevinde Ida Schack, née Scheel Bille and major Rosenkrantz. 

Is he catching gold fish?

His son grev Knud Bille Schack took over in 1798 and in his period was Gram leased out. He was not popular by the peasants at Gram, since he tried to regulate their taxes after a new price increase. But there were several improvements at Gram during his ownership. After his death in 1821 the entailed estate Giesegaard went to his sister's son Henrik Adolf Brockenhuus and was the year after adopted into the grevskab (county) Brockenhuus-Schack. His properties were under private adminisration and Gram was in his time managed by kammerherre von Krogh. Grev Henrik died in 1847, and grev Knud Bille Ludvig Anton Brockenhuus-Schack took over the entailed estate. In his time were made several improvements of the estate. Both grev Knud and his succesor from 1892, the son grev Adolf Ludvig Brockenhuus-Schack (+ 1938) were of great importance to the district caused  by their national example, and Gram became a center of the Danishness. Grev Adolf let in 1905-06 the castle restore and the garden plan was re-laid. He was much more interested in Gram than his predecessors and the castle was used much more than before. The various farms in the estate were still leased out to tenants. 

In 1945 was the owner A/S Gram and Nybøl godser. 

Danske Slotte og Herregårde, bd. 16, Sønderjylland,  1967, Gram slot, lektor dr. phil Vilhelm Lorenzen

photo Gram slot, May 2007: grethe bachmann

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