Saturday, 10 January 2015

Long Traditions at Bäckaskog Castle

Bäckaskog - The Castle of Many Tales

1. A monastery during the 13th century.
2. Danish from 1537.
3. Families Ulfstand, Brahe, Bille, Parsberg.
4. From 1584 Henrik Ramel (from Pomerania).
5. From 1819 residence for cavalry colonels.
6. Colonel J.C.Toll 1782-1817.
7. From 1819 a Royal Estate (Swedish and Danish).
8. From 1956 hotel and restaurant (G. Ferlenius).
9. Nowadays publicly owned and leased out.


Bäckaskog Castle by lake Oppmanna. Lake Ivö is on the other side of the isthmus.

With a keen interest in history, may I this time place my pictures in the context of some of the many (historical) tales about Bäckaskog (courtesy: 

The castle itself is situated northeast of Kristianstad on an isthmus between two lakes; the Oppmanna and Ivö. When the monastery in Vä was destroyed in a fire 1213 the monks wanted to build a new monastery on this isthmus that had a nice climate and lakes full of fish (the only animal food allowed for the monks). The monastery was built over a brook between the lakes so that the monks could open a hatch and this way easily catch fresh fish all year around.

Bäckaskog Castle

The first of the tales relates to the "well-fed and flourishing" abbot Niels Hindriksen that managed to fool the mighty landlord Jens Holgersen Ulfstand from Glimmingehus and Ljungby over some allotments. Ulfstand therefor invited the abbot to his estate offering a cure for his overweight. The abbot was not aware of the fact that the cure was becoming chained and put to work in the smithy for ten days on only bread and water. When the king and the bishop became aware of the situation the situation was resolved. The abbot was released and offered 100 marks for his unfortunate state - a price that Ulfstand could afford to pay for a good laugh. When the end is well, all is well although it is not mentioned whether the abbot lost some weight or not.

During the reformation the monastery became property of the Danish crown in 1537 and leased to Gert Jensen Ulfstand and soon thereafter to other families like Brahe, Bille and Parsberg. In 1584 the Danish king Fredrik II handed over Bäckaskog to a nobleman from Pomerania, Henrik Ramel, who's family kept the estate for almost 100 years.

Towering Bäckaskog.

History tells that Henrik Ramel had a solid upbringing and had travelled extensively in the orient. Having served the king of Hungary and the sultan of Constantinople he received an public office in Pomerania and finally, in 1581, took up his duties in the Danish court becoming among other things the teacher of Christian IV. The royal graces and the fact that he was German gave Ramel many enemies. When his German wife died he remarried with Swedish Elsa Brahe and critics against him reduced and he worked in public offices until his death in 1610. During his time large construction works where started at Bäckaskog Castle. His son, with the same name, is said to have initiated the construction of the church at Bäckaskog.

Bäckaskog by the other lake, Lake Ivö.

Ove Ramel, son of Henrik Ramel (younger), was one of the first Scanian noblemen that swore fidelity to the Swedish king. However, during the Danish-Swedish war he again sided with the Danish and was later sentenced to death in his absence. He, nevertheless, was given back Bäckaskog after the war but decided to have his residence in Denmark instead. Soon Bäckaskog became a royal estate and served as residence for cavalry colonels of the regiments of Southern Sweden. The last of them was the colorful Johan Christopher Toll, 1782-1817, that made several improvements and introduced the park area at Bäckaskog. He had little luck in finding a spouse - planted a tree everytime he was rejected and tales tell that the trees grew in number. He supported Gustav III in his coup d'état bringing in forces before the promised Finnish groups had arrived. He then also served Gustav IV Adolf, lost his offices for a while but was later reinstated and joined the aristocracy as baron only to serve as diplomat and field marshall during the Napoleonic wars. After a defeat in Pomerania Gustav IV Adolf returned to Bäckaskog and Toll managed to strike a deal with the French that allowed Swedish troops to return with their stores. 

Bäckaskog park area.

From the early 19th century Bäckaskog became a royal estate for Crown Princes Oscar (I) and Karl (XV)  that used it as his summer and out-of-town residence, made many improvements and held numerous festivities there. He was very much a public figure and liked by the locals - a favor that he returned especially in the case of ladies. According to my source he may still have relatives in the area. The Danish Crown Prince Fredrik (III) married Karl XV's daughter Lovisa in 1868 and moved into Bäckaskog. The small-leaved lime tree, where the couple was engaged to be married, still stands and has become a popular site for others to do the same, right under this tree.

In 1956 Bäckaskog Castle was leased to Gustaf Ferlenius who turned the site into a popular tourist attraction - "The Castle of Roses and the Newly-Weds" a it was nicknamed. It attracted some half a million visitors yearly. The business was closed down after Ferlenius, turned into public ownership and leased out to different entrepreneurs running it today.

Bäckaskog park area.

Bäckaskog is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kristianstad with some 150.000 visitors annually using its accommodation, restaurant and conference services. For details see The Castle has a magnificent history having been a centre for different political turmoil and also a royal (summer) residence. Hope the story has been of interest and possibly prompts the odd reader to look for further details.

Enjoy your week-end!


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