Linschoten: The Farmhouse that wanted to be a Castle

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Linschoten is something rather special, and a house I hadn’t visited prior to the Palatium Summer School excursion. The approach could hardly be more bucolic,  walking along the the waterway that flows through the estate with very little traffic. After passing through the gates there is a long stately drive with rows of beech trees that frame the house that lies on the central axis.

There was a fortified house on the estate in the early middle ages, though not where the current house stands. The estate was acquired in 1633 by Johan Strick and he constructed a gentlemans farmhouse. When his son married a member of the Taets van Amerongen family, an older titled family, the farm was in need of an upgrade.  Johan now went by the grander sounding Strick van Linschoten, and he wanted a house to match his ambitions and family achievements. The result of the enlargement is illustrated in a painting of 1654 by Herman Saftleven below. The low wing with the red tiled roof is in fact part of the original farmhouse, the block at the back and the two towers were added on to this, and the newly dug moat was thrown in for good measure to keep up appearances with the in-laws.

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Just like at Heemstede Castle and Renswoude this building was deliberately old fashioned in style with its moat and projecting towers that served no defensive purpose but were merely there to add status. The silhouette of the house changed in the eighteenth century when the height of the front wing was unified with the back which meant the towers would project less.

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In a pattern now familiar to many of the houses discussed as part of the Palatium Summer School excursions the gardens at Linschoten developed from a formal style into a landscape garden in the nineteenth century, with some features of the old garden being retained. The house and the extensive estate remained in the same family till 1891 when it was acquired by Ribbius Pelletier, a cigar manufacturer. The house was maintained but little altered after this, and it passed into the ownership of a private foundation in 1969 that take cares of the house and estate which have remained intact as an ensemble.

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As the house was used less and less during the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was saved from a lot of modernisations, Consequently the interiors are remarkably well preserved. As the estate provides the necessary funds for the maintenance and the house is only used for special events and concerts it has managed to maintain the elegant charm of a place that seems to have just been vacated by the owners, without intrusive technology and other clutter taking over and re-purposing the building.

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Above: The small salon with its air of faded glory has the best view of the park.

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Above: The Blue Room has a vibrant wallpaper with a Damascene effect that was installed in 1853 which has retained all of its original brilliance.

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Above: The Alcove Bedroom,  although it no longer has its bed there is some interesting neo-gothic wallpaper. This room is located in what used to be the farmhouse.

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Above: This evocative little dairy is located in one of the two towers that were added to the house.

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Above: The Dining Room was located on the basement level, which although unusual was practical due to its proximity to the kitchen. Fragments of the original gilt leather remain, this was a popular covering for the walls of dining rooms as it didn’t retain food odors to the same degree as textile wall coverings would.

Below: This space across the lower hall from the dining room appears to have been used as a common withdrawing room, with the more prestigeous reception spaces above being reserved for more important occasions. What appear to be simple cupboard doors in the wall are in fact box-beds.

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This is already the last post in a series related to the Palatium Summer School. Many thanks to the organisers and fellow participants for the excellent time spent learning and exploring courtly residences. These blogposts don’t do justice to the full scope of the summer school and the topics discussed, but I hope they might serve as a visual reminder for those that participated and anyone interested in the subject matter.

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