A Visit to Löfstad Castle

A while ago, I wrote about exploring Händelö, the first stop on Kerstin’s and my 4-day summer séjour.  What other places did we visit?

Day1. Löfstad Castle

Löfstad Castle
Löfstad Castle

Our second stop, after Händelö, is Löfstad Castle. This castle, built in the 1600s, has been privately owned until it was bequeathed by the last owner, Emilie Piper (1857-1926), to the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) and Östergötland’s Museum. It is now open to the public.

“I don’t think we can find any link between Augusta and Löfstad Castle. It is so close to Norrköping, but Augusta would not have moved in the same circles,” Kerstin concludes.

I understand why.  The owners were the count and chamberlain Charles Piper and his wife. And when we catch the first glimpse of the castle, I am stunned. This is a totally different world. This is how the very wealthy, old noble families lived in the 1800s.

But we have also decided to visit the castle for another reason. Today is the first day of Löfstad Castle’s historical fashion exhibition – a collaboration between the museum and a friend of ours who creates fantastic Victorian clothes under the name La Belle Epoque.

We park the car and walk up to the ticket office.

“Are you here to guide?” one of the girls in the office asks as we enter the office. Sometimes we forget that we are wearing 1840s dresses.

“Oh no,” Kerstin explains,“ we are here to see the exhibition.

La Belle Epoque Wedding Gown
La Belle Epoque Wedding Gown

The real guide shows up and our small group of 4 or 5 visitors is lead into the castle. It is an amazing tour of rooms, frozen in time from when Emelie Piper would have gotten dressed in her bedroom, with her clothes laid out or hung for us to view and ponder. There are older clothes as well. And there are telltale portraits where the clothes will reveal the time period of when the person was painted. I am always looking for Kashmir shawls in painting.

“Look,” Kerstin exclaims, “on the piano!”

It is pretty dark in the room, but I see it. The piano is draped with a large Kashmir shawl. That is what people did once the long shawls were not fashionable any more – they put them on their pianos.

It is exciting to see that someone in the Piper family once owned one of these beautiful shawls and I tell the guide and the group what I have learned about them.

The La Belle Epoque dresses, made by our friend, are also stunning – especially a beautiful wedding gown. Emilie Piper didn’t marry; if she had, this could have been her wedding gown.

After the tour, we walk around the rose gardens, look at the old carriages, and have lunch in the outdoor garden café.

And then we head for the next stops – Stora Gålstad and Ekeby, two places tied to Augusta’s early childhood.

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