Kerstin and I have been visiting castles this week. There are so many castles we wanted to visit since we were last together, 3 years ago.
One of those castles is Tyresö, a palace built in the 1630s and the childhood home of Augusta’s friends, the Rudenschöld sisters. I wrote about the three sisters, Louise, Emma, and Adèle earlier this spring – imagining them running through the paths of the huge park all the way down to the waters. The palace is located on a hill overlooking an inlet of the Baltic. The blue waters are still, protected by tall trees lining the shores. Ducks swim peacefully around the water reeds and water lilies.
Now we are on our way to Tyresö and we look forward to walking the same paths around the palace and under the old trees in the park.
As soon as I catch a glimpse of the church at Tyresö, I recognize the drawing by Thure Gabriel Rudenschöld (either the sisters’ father or grandfather – they had the same name).
The palace gardens are as serene as I remember them. We walk down to the waters and over the little bridge to the fishermen’s cottages. On this lovely Sunday afternoon, lots of families are picnicking on the island or just strolling around. I can imagine Louise, Emma and Adèle strolling there with their maids.
We finish the day with a lunch in the palace. The highlight of the lunch is the view of the courtyard from the second-floor windows. I imagine the three sisters sitting by the window and looking down on carriages that pull up in front of the palace entrance, wondering who is arriving…
You can read more about Louise and Adèle Rudenschöld’s lives at the links:
Today, we are finally going to visit Skånelaholm Castle. Two winters ago, before the pandemic, I wrote about Augusta’s friend Lotten Westman’s visit to Skånela parsonage and Skånelaholm Castle:
Lotten Westman’s visit to Skånela parsonage and Skånelaholm Castle
You can get to Stockholm’s international airport either by train or by car. Either way, you will pass Rosersberg, a small community northwest of Stockholm. In the winter, there will be stretches of snowy fields, small farms in the distance, and dense evergreen forests. It would look like a Christmas card.
If you are going by train from Stockholm, you would get off at Rosersberg and take the connecting bus 577. That is how you get to Skånela Church and Skånelaholm Castle. I have never taken the bus and never visited the places. But now it is on my list for next summer’s excursions! (That was my thought before the pandemic changed all plans)
I just can’t let go of an image of a teenage girl, dressed in a warm wool dress with layers of petticoats and shawls, practicing target shooting with a pistol in the castle garden or sledding down some slope, shawls flying. And in the evening, dressed in a silk ballgown, dancing in one of the castle’s halls.
“My dear Augusta!
Thank you, my dear friend, for your long-awaited letter; you will not be angry with me for letting you wait a few mail-days for an answer. I have been thinking of writing to you each mail-day, but as you see, this has not happened. This Christmas has been the nicest one I can remember. First, we spent the Christmas holiday or, rather, the Christmas days as usual with our family. Then we traveled out to the countryside, to Pastor Schröderheim, where we spent 14 days – the most pleasant days you could ever imagine. We went to several balls at the neighbors, we went sledding, and in the evening, when we were at home, we sat in Uncle’s room and read aloud. I learned to shoot with a pistol and to drive a horse. On the way home I drove 10 miles* and then the whole length of Drottninggatan [Queen Street] all the way to our door. (Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, February 9, 1847).”
Augusta’s friend, Lotten Westman, was a wealthy city-girl. She was born and raised in Stockholm. Lotten and her sister Clara lived with a foster mother after becoming orphans. But the sisters had many aunts and uncles in Stockholm and distant relatives in the countryside. Those were the families they visited during the holidays.
Pastor Göran Ulric Schröderheim was one of them. He had married his cousin, Anna Charlotta Westman, and both were also Lotten’s father’s cousins. Schröderheim had been a pastor at the Royal Court but was now pastor at Skånela Church north of Stockholm. He and his wife had two sons, Göran and Johan.
“The pastor’s wife is a very decent, but ordinary woman. The sons, the lieutenant and the student, are also decent, especially the latter who was my real favorite. He is the most cheerful and kindest man you can imagine. Because we had had such a happy and fun time there, the first days after my return were so quiet, and I especially missed my favorite.”
Lotten liked Johan who was a student in Uppsala. He would in1858 marry his neighbor at Skånelaholm Castle, Hedvig Lovisa Juliana Jennings. The same neighbors whose balls Lotten had attended.
“Let’s see if we can get back there this summer. Then, with nature in all its splendor, it must be glorious, for even now during the winter it was sincerely pleasant.”
Did Lotten go back in the summer?
Our visit to Skånelaholm
Kerstin and I have picked a glorious day to visit Skånelaholm. We are going by car. Our dresses fill up the entire front seats. I wish Lotten could see us.
We connect my iPhone to the Apple CarPlay in the dashboard and ask Siri for directions. She answers in English even though we are in Sweden. Estimated arrival time is 4 pm. Unfortunately, that is the time that Skånelaholm castle closes for the day. Maybe we can make it before closing?
The winding road through large fields of oats and flax is delightful with their hues of green and blue. Lotten would have loved it. But how would she have described travelling in a car – the comfortable seats, the speed, and the air conditioning?
The last hundred meters of the road to the castle is lined with tall trees. Then we see the most beautiful little pink castle! It is 5 minutes before closing. We park and dash to the office located in one of the wings. Of course, we will not be able to tour the castle this time, but we chat with the women in the gift shop and buy ice creams. We are more than welcome to explore the gardens and the park, and we promise to come back again.
And then we are alone by the castle. We stroll through the park where Lotten would have practices pistol shooting and then find some chairs by the lake where we can sit and eat our ice creams.
Yes, Lotten, with nature in all its splendor, Skånelaholm is a glorious place!
In Cecilia’s memory album, there is a beautiful drawing of a chapel by a lake. The drawing is signed, Louise Rudenschöld.
I assume that Louise copied a print, maybe of a chapel in the Dolomites (based on the architecture of the chapel and the mountains in the background).
Eva Christina Lovisa (Louise) Rudenschöld was born on October 4, 1828, at Hinderstorp, a large estate south of Lidköping. Her parents were Count Thure Gabriel Rudenschöld and Countess Augusta Charlotta Lovisa Stackelberg. Louise had two younger sisters, Emma Augusta Ottilde, born 1830 (also at Hinderstorp), and Adèle Marina, born 1832 at Tyresö castle.
Louise’s maternal grandparents, Count Carl Adolf Ludvig Stackelberg and Eva Sofia Adelsvärd owned Hinderstorp where the family lived. They then bought a magnificent castle, Tyresö, southeast of Stockholm. Now, the extended family moved to Tyresö, where they attended their first church service in Tyresö parish in May of 1832.
Louise was 3 ½ years old. Her early childhood memories would have been from Tyresö: running through the huge rooms of the castle, maybe being scared of the portraits on the walls, walking under fragrant linden trees in the expansive park, and maybe playing with a little dog.
In May of 1838, the family moved to Stockholm. Why did they give up their opulent lifestyle (yes, the number of servants in the household, listed in the church records, is mind-blowing, as are their titles or tasks) for an apartment in Stockholm? Maybe it was because of Louise’s father’s position as a chamberlain. Maybe they missed social life. Louise was now 10 years old.
The year Louise gave Cecilia the memory card, the family lived in Jacob’s parish at Malmskildnadsgatan 32. That’s where the shopping center Gallerian is located today.
Going to School
Did Louise and her sisters attend Edgren’s school? I know that Louise’s sister Adèle did (she will get her own story told in a separate blog entry). One would assume that all three sisters attended Edgren’s school and were friends with Cecilia and our Augusta.
ErnstWilhelm Emanuel (1859-1927)
Anna Cecilia Augusta (1860-1909)
Christina Lovisa Gabriella (1862-1934)
Johan Samuel (1867-1872)
Carl Wilhelm Eugen (1871-1927)
The youngest child in the family was Wilhelm. He was musical prodigy.
”Dinner with Countess M. Leijohufvud, together with Lieutenant Adolf von Koch, his Baroness, Mrs. L. Stenhammar, and others. In the afternoon music, among others by the young, 7-year-old Vilhelm Stenhammar, who improvised and played so extraordinarily well that those who had not heard him before, must be amazed at what they rightly called him “a prodigy”. Yes, in truth it may be said here – what may become of this child?” (Diary entry on 2 April 1878 by Pastor B. Wadström).
Wilhelm grew up to be a famous composer and pianist. He composed the music for a national anthem – a song called Sverige (Sweden), that is played on Swedish Radio at midnight every New Year’s Eve.
Louise was raised in a deeply religious family. Her father was one of the founding members of The Swedish Evangelical Mission Society (Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen). Pastor Wadström, who wrote the diary entry above, was a spiritual mentor to Louise’s grandfather. In his book From Memories and the Diary – Notes from the years 1848-1898 (Swedish: Ur Minnet och Dagboken – Anteckningar från åren 1849-1898), Wadström also included writings in his memory book by his friends. Lousie, her parents, her sisters, and her husband, all contributed to Pastor Wadström’s memory book and Louise even made a drawing.
Louise, her sister Adèle, their father, and their paternal grandfather were all hobby artists. Louise specialized in portraits and made drawings and watercolor paintings. Adèle was a sculpturist. Their father made landscape drawings and oil paintings while their grandfather made landscape drawings.
According to Uppsala University Library, the following drawings were made by Louise’s grandfather (who had the same name as her father, Thure Gabriel). These drawings of Tyresö were supposedly made in 1820-1830. Could they actually be drawings by Louise’s father? Nevertheless, they are beautiful drawings.
Louise lived a long life and died in Stockholm in 1902. Her diary from 1884-1899 and some correspondence with her family members can be found in Wilhelm Stenhammar’s Archive.
Today’s card in Cecilia Koch’s memory album is from Adèlaide Peijron. I wrote about Adèlaide in 2018 when I was searching for the girls who, like Augusta, lived with the Edgren family in Stockholm. Soon after writing the blog post, I received an exciting email from Adèlaide’s great-great-granddaughter (and our new friend), Kathinka Lindhe. At that time, she was working on a book about Adèlaide’s son. More about that down below.
Tomt och ödsligt blir Ditt lif Om ej någon vän du äger Wänskapen Ditt hjerta gif Den allt annat öfverväger Den är fast som klippans stål Och ur denna verld dess mål
My translation (I am no expert on translating poetry and this time I took some liberties to improve on a simple literal translation)
Empty and desolate your life will be,
if not a friend you have.
A heartfelt friendship, do bestow,
a gift that beats all else.
Friendship – solid as a rock,
aim for it in life.
Who was Adèlaide?
Adèle’s full name was Adèlaide Virginia Peijron and she was born on 13 June 1831 in Stockholm. She was almost 13 years old when she wrote the loving poem to Cecilia.
Adèlaide’s mother was Adèlaide Elisabet Schön (1808-1837) and her father was the officer Edouard August Peyron (1796-1858) who had been introduced into the House of Nobility in 1837 with the new name, Peijron. In 1844, when Adèlaide wrote the poem to Cecilia, her father was a chamberlain (kabinettskammarherre) to King Oscar I.
Adèlaide’s mother died when Adèlaide was only 6 years old. It is understandable that the father could not take care of his young daughter. In 1840, at the age of 9, Adèlaide was therefore boarding with the Edgren family. She lived with the Edgrens until they left Stockholm in May of 1844. She then moved in with Mademoiselle Andriette Frigell who continued the school.
”My own Augusta!
Thank you, thank you, for your latest and, for so long, an anticipated letter which was dearly received.
… Yesterday, I was visiting Mademoiselle Frigel and she always asks about you and she sent you her warmest regards. Adèle Peyron also sent you lots of greetings. Erica Degermann and I are invited to Mademoiselle Frigell on a graduation ball on Tuesday…” (Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, 16 April 1846)
In September 1846, Adèlaide’s father married Anna Maria Bagge (1810-1858) and Adèlaide now had a stepmother. This upcoming wedding was already news in Mademoiselle Frigell’s school in the spring of 1846:
“Speaking of Mademoiselle F., Adèle Peyron’s father will remarry, with Mrs. Bagge, born Groen. So Adèle gets a stepmother. She went with her on May 1st but Adèle did not look happy at all, said Erica Degerman who saw her. Poor Adèle, I do not think it should be fun to have a new mother when you are that old.” (Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, 6 May 1846)
In 1853, Adèle married chamberlain Gabriel Gerhard Sigge Sparre af Rossvik and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. One of the sons was Sixten Sparre.
Sixten Sparre was married and had two children when he became infatuated with a beautiful circus performer, Elvira Madigan. He left his family and convinced Elvira to leave the circus and join him. They traveled to Denmark but had no means to support themselves. Their ”honeymoon” ended in tragedy. Their bodies were found in a forest, Elvira presumably shot by Sixten who then shot himself. Their short story was the perfect fodder for the press – a romantic love story of a lieutenant and a beautiful circus artist who in desperation jointly committed suicide. Did they?
For the surviving family, it was something else – the tragedy, the shame, the history that should be forgotten and not mentioned. Kathinka Lindhe writes about this in her book Vacker var han, utav börd: Sixten Sparre, mannen som mördade Elvira Madigan (Transl. He was beautiful, of noble birth: Sixten Sparre, the man who murdered Elvira Madigan), published in 2020. It is a fascinating narrative about Sixten Sparre. She also writes about Adèle’s life after her son’s murder/suicide.
Adèle had had her own marital problems. Her husband had squandered all the wealth she had brought into the marriage. He had been forced to declare bankruptcy, and when he died in 1897, there was no inheritance for Adèle to live on. She had to manage on a pension but fortunately, she later received a substantial inheritance from a relative. She died in Stockholm in 1909, at the age of 78.
Axeline Fries was 14 years old in May of 1844. When she sat down to write a card for Cecilia Koch’s memory album, she had already decided on her favorite poem. She knew it by heart.
Måtte nya blommor smycka, Hvarje dag du möter än. Intet saknas i din lycka, Helgad utaf vänskapen.
(Literally translated as:
May new flowers adorn,
every day that greets you
Nothing lacking in your happiness
sanctified by friendship)
She made sure that her letters were perfectly lined up on the card and she underlined friendship (vänskapen).
But she wanted to give Cecilia something more and something personal.
A lock of her hair.
She gathered a few strands of her long, straight, brown hair and then, with her embroidery scissors, made the cut. She twisted the lock into two circles, like a pretzel, and tied it with a strand of red embroidery floss.
Two years later, her friend Cecilia died of measles and Axelina’s message would not bring any personal memories to those who read it. Now, 178 years later, I feel like I am finding a message in a bottle.
Who was Axelina? What did she look like? Did she marry? Did flowers adorn every day that greeted her?
Axelina Maria Magdalena Fries
Axelina was born in Malmö on September 5, 1829. Her father was Bengt Fredrik Fries (b. 1799), a professor of zoology who in 1831 became the curator of the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. His wife, Axelina’s mother, was Anna Christina Lundberg (b. 1804).
Axelina had two younger sisters, Josefina Helena Gustafva (b. 1831) and Ida Maria Elisabet (b. 1834).
Axelina’s father died suddenly in 1839. In 1842, the family moved to Clara parish and to the house at the corner of Stora Vattugränd and Clara Östra Kyrkogata. It was the same house where Charlotta Lindström’s family lived (Charlotta, who also wrote a card for Cecilia’s album). The situations of the two families, Fries and Lindström, were similar. The fathers in both families were professors who had 3 young daughters when they suddenly died in their 30s.
Josefina and Axelina Fries in 1846. Drawings by Maria Röhl.
Axelina marries Baron Alfred Henrik Edvard Fock
“You probably already know that Axeline Fries is engaged to a Baron Fock, but they will not marry yet. He is awfully much smaller than her, it does not look very nice. When she takes his arm, he disappears right under her red coat.” (Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, March 6, 1848)
It was well known that Baron Alfred Henrik Edvard Fock was unusually short in stature. A friend of Alfred Fock, Fritz von Dardel, referred to him as “little Fock”.
“I had been asked to speak, but I instead persuaded little Fock to do it and he succeeded much better than I should have done.” (Fritz von Dardel describing a visit by industrialists and artists to thank Crown Prince Oscar for his support).
Alfred Fock was born in 1818 in Bjurbäck, close to Jönköping. When Axelina met him, he was a lieutenant and a teacher of physics in Stockholm. He would later leave the military and become a professor of physics at the Technology Institute in Stockholm; nowadays the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He also became a member of parliament.
Axelina and Alfred got married on February 24, 1849. They had five children:
Anna Magdalena ”Malin” (1849-1933), did not marry
Axel Fredrik (1852-1878), did not marry
Carl Alexander (1854-1938), married Huldina Beamish
Gertrud Maria (1856-1856), died in infancy
Ida Lovisa Josefina (1864-1914), married John Edvard Magnus Sager
In the winter of 1858-59, Axelina and her two sisters visited Maria Röhl again. These are the artist’s quick sketches. She focused on the faces at these sessions.
A new home at Hantverkargatan 18, Kungsholmen
In 1851, the family moved to Hantverkargatan 18 (block Fikonträdet). They lived there until the end of the year 1856.
The address seems familiar, and in the house examination records, I recognize the names of Augusta’s childhood friends from Krusenhof in Kvillinge parish: the Hjort family. This is the house Augusta visited on her trips to Stockholm in the 1850s. And this is where she lived when she was ill with tuberculosis and was treated by Dr. Pehr Henrik Malmsten, a famous doctor in Stockholm. Augusta must have run into Axelina when she visited the Hjorts and when she stayed with them.
Augusta describes her visit to the Hjorts in her diary, March 12, 1851.
“The day after our arrival, we waded through quarter-deep dirt to our friends on Kungsholmen, where we were warmly received, had a pleasant evening and reminisced about our winter evenings at Krusenhof.
Aunt and Nanna have a small sunny and nice home, in the middle of a garden that extends all the way down to the lake shore. In the summer, this little place must be a real paradise where you have flowers and light, fresh air and Lake Mälaren’s blue surface and verdant islets to rest your eyes on, as well as the most magnificent views of Riddarholmen and Söder and, over all, the steamships that from different directions rush to their common goal – Riddarholmsbron.”
Axelina died on October 9, 1888, in Stockholm. That should probably be the end of this blog entry – one about a young, happy girl who wrote a lovely poem to her friend and gave her a lock of her hair.
But there are at least two of her grandchildren who should be mentioned. Axelina’s son, Carl Alexander, and his wife Huldina had 5 daughters: Fanny, Elsa, Mary, Carin, and Lilly.
My Memory of Axelina’s Granddaughter Mary
I actually have a memory of Axelina’s granddaughter.
I am around 5 years old and we are celebrating midsummer at Rockelstad Castle in Helgesta parish. I only remember two things: my parents dancing in a crowded place, and the old countess, who lived in the castle, giving me a large, shiny coin, maybe a 2-crown or 5-crown coin as a prize in a game organized for the kids. I curtsy politely as expected of me. It feels like a fairy tale, getting a shiny coin from an old countess who lives in a real castle.
When I was a child, our family spent the summers at Ådö in Helgesta parish not far from Rockelstad Castle. There were lots of stories about Eric von Rosen, of his travels, parties, hunting trophies, etc. That is all I knew.
When I searched for Axelina’s granddaughters, I learned that Eric von Rosen died in 1948 and his wife in 1967. I guess she wasn’t as old as I thought she was when I was little.
Axelina’s Infamous Granddaughter Carin
Mary’s younger sister Carin married nazi-leader Hermann Göring in 1922. He was working as a commercial pilot in Stockholm after World War I and knew Eric von Rosen (also a pilot). Carin was visiting her sister Mary when she met Göring at Rockelstad. The couple moved to Germany in 1922 and became high-profile members of the nazi party. Carin died before World War II in 1931, at the age of 42, from a heart attack. Hermann Göring’s war crimes are well documented.
Axelina’s sisters Josefina and Ida never married.
The poem Axelina copied is an anonymous poem. It was published in a book in 1857.
All drawings by Maria Röhl are available at regina.kb.se