Tuesday, July 06, 2010

the Castle of Engsö.

Last tuesday I, my friend K, her "sister in law" L and their respective infants Joni and Ingrid, went out to Engsö castle -one of my favourite places on earth. It's situated on a peninsula a two hour-drive west of Stockholm and so beautiful it almost makes you feel as though you're in a painting by Constable, complete with grazing cows.

The castle was built around the late 15th century, "glammed-up" in the 1620s and again in the 1740s when the fourth floor was added and it got much of the appearance it still has today. The architect was Carl Hårleman (1700-1753) one of swedens leading architects at the time.

In spite of being one of the moste beautiful places in the nation Engsö is best known for it's many ghosts, there has even been a team of american paranormal researchers here, lead by a Dr. Raymond Moody -and with their equipment gotten stronger reactions than at any of the famous haunted places in england... There's the 17th century Lady, Brita Bååth - who died, according to the legend - after mistakenly attending the mass of the dead... the hunchback dwarf Anders Luxemburg, and Cotillion - the dog of Axel Von Fersen's younger Sister Sophie, who died and was buried there -"at the feet of his mistress", as his little tombstone says, located somewhere in the park. There is also Brandklipparen, the last horse of King Charles XII who spent his last years there.

The castle doesn't look like any other, not really an architectural masterpiece, but still wonderful, rising tall above the green, lush landscape. The whole site is almost phenomenally beautiful, especially on a bright summers day, as you can imagine. Sadly the castle was closed this day, but we enjoyed a nice picnic in the park and took a look at the church nearby.

When you walk up the stairs to the first floor you'll encounter an eerie portrait of an austere-looking lady, dressed in grey. -it's the ill fated Brita Bååth who, according to the legend, was a "cruel and rigid woman who was said to have driven her two husbands into an early grave..."

-one early christmas day-morning, she was to attend the christmas service. Anxious to miss it she'd instructed the servants to wake her early, but toward the morning she woke up by herself and saw the light in the church windows, annoyed she thought that the service had already begun and that they'd simply forgotten to wake her, so she dressed hastily and got out. Half way to the church she saw an apparition, uncannily resembling her old wet nurse who'd been dead for many years, and the old woman almost seeemd as if she was trying to warn her from continuing, but as she was already late she ignored the vision and scuttled on.

And as she approached the church she noticed that the light in the windows had a cold, pale-green glow to it, with none of the usual warmth of the christmas candles, but this didn't stop her either. But upon entering the church she stood petrified, for in the benches sat skeletons with devoutly clasped hands and grinning faces. She realised she was much to early and that she'd come to the mass of the dead. -and as if that weren't enough the ghosts of her two late husbands came rushing toward her - one swung his rapier at her, but only got a piece of her veil and the other threw a large stone, which struck her to the ground, outside where the servants found her the following morning, and she retold the horrific tale before she died, three days later.

The rapier with the piece of her veil still hangs in the church, hung across her funeral coat of arms, and nobody knows how it got there.

I hope to be able to get back later this summer, when the castle's open, to see it's beautiful interiors again, (not to mention posting more pictures for you to see!) -before last tuestay i hadn't been there in more than six years. A couple of years before my mother's death five years ago, we made it a tradition to go there on my birthdays. So it was so nice getting back there again, for it's too gorgeous a place not to go to at least once a year!

The Piper family arriving at the newly rebuilt Engsö, oil on canvas by unknown artist.