Stjernsund Manor

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My part-time employers, the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, sometimes receive rather hefty donations. This is how they came to own Stjernsund manor near Askersund in the province of Närke / Nericia. (Don’t confuse it with Christopher Polhem’s early industrial centre Stjärnsund in Dalecarlia.)

Stjernsund received its säteri manorial charter in 1637. The original buildings were replaced by the current neo-Classical structures shortly after 1800. Stjernsund then belonged to members of the Bernadotte royal dynasty for several decades (one of them adding a horrendously style-clashing ornate punch-drinking veranda to one of the wings), earning it the appellation slott, “castle”. The early-19th century furnishings are still in place and beautifully preserved.

Last Wednesday I enjoyed a sunny day at Stjernsund. Like all Academy property, it is kept in impeccable shape. This is no mean feat as modern Sweden is very unlike the society that once produced manors like this. They used to be economic assets. Today they are huge liabilities. But Stjernsund is well worth a visit. It has a good restaurant, there’s lots to see, and accommodation is available in one of the garden wings.

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In manor parks of the 19th century you sometimes come across faux menhirs. This one marks the burial ground of the manor’s hunting dogs.

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On a hill near a lake is the ideal siting of one of these.

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This sculpted plinth is one of the few visible remains of the 17th century manor. Only half is extant, the inscription reading “Has … this … [Oxen] Stierne … of Stubbe … and … ordered to be built … year 1664 … now for … completed … wherein is …”. I was lucky enough to come across it right when the lighting was perfect for bringing out the inscription on this side.

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Stjernsund is still a major working farm too, with poultry and egg production i.a.

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19th century trees in the manor park are being phased out for new ones. Planting trees is one of the most forward-looking and optimistic acts I know.