Friday, May 25, 2007

Tøyen hovedgård - the manor at Oslo's East End (1679 / Early 19th Century)

When you walk down Trondheims- veien, a street in Oslo's East End, you see these two small houses. They are today located on each side of a small side street. 200 years ago, however, they were gatehouses guarding the entrance to Tøyen Hovedgård, a large manor house that was owned by members of the Norwegian elite.

The name Tøyen belongs to the oldest classes of farm names we know. The name Todin consists of two syllables, the first "Tad" meaning manure or fertilizer, and the second "vin" means pasture. Tadvin is a name that came before the viking age, that means that it is at least 1250 years old.

The manor from 1161 to the fire in 1670

During the medieval time it was a part of the estate of the Nonneseter monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary, housing Benedictine nuns. It was founded before 1161. It fell into disrepair after 1547, and stones from its church were used to build the new city hall in 1616, still standing close to Akershus fortress.

In 1640 it was granted status as a noble estate under the Norwegian chancellor Jens Bjelke, one of the most powerful men in Denmark-Norway. This may also be the place where Anders Lavrisen died December 28th 1627. He took care of Nonneseter Estate for Jens Bjelke. He is buried in St Hallvards church, where you still can admire his beautiful grave.

The present manor house

Jens Bjelkes son, General Lieutenant Jørgen Bjelke took over Tøyen, and it burnt around 1670, and a new house was built in 1679. New dendrochronological method dates the present house to this date, making it the oldest wooden building in Oslo.

The Stockfleth family took over the house at the end of the 17th Century, and the new owner, Christian Stockfleth had a visit from the Danish King Christian V in 1685. It was renovated just before and after the start of the 19th Century, when it got the appearance it has today.

The park is turned into Botanical garden

King Fredrik VI bought the manor in 1812, and it was given as a gift to the new University of Oslo. Today the manor is situated in the Botanical Gardens in Oslo.

Tøyen has recently been restored back to its former glory. During this process the University was forced to cut down two large Horse Chestnut trees. The oldest predated the French and American revolution, and the oldest may have been planted around 1750. This was sad, but very necessary as these huge trees threatened to undermine the house itself.

You can see photos of these trees here.

Today the Manor is situated in a wonderful park housing an impressive variety of plants from many continents, many of considerable age. Until recently the largest green house - the palm house, had a palm tree - a Phoenix Canariensis, a date palm from the Canary Islands brought back by the gardens founder Christen Smith and germinated around 1819. Sadly it died out of lack of room.

Take a stroll in the park during the spring time admiring the trees and flowers in bloom, or sit by the fountains during a hot summer day. You can even enjoy a coffee at the cafe in the manor house (now closed due to renovation).

And you will be in my neighbourhood.

Welcome!!

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