A Castle by the Lake

4 October, 2023

4 October, 2023

22 years ago, a new kitchen was to be fit in the castle. Kvänum got the order. We designed a door inspired by Swedish fin du siècle, a recessed frame door with a profiled inner edge and a gracefully bevelled mirror. In honour of the castle, we named it Sundby, since then a much loved and esteemed member of our Real Classic club.

On the northern shore of Lake Hjälmaren stands one of stateliest castles in Sweden, Stora Sundby. The old seat is the home of a young family, Mauritz and Ida-Sofia, and their two kids. At their disposal, they´ve got a house with four big towers for the seasons of the year, twelve smaller towers for the months, 52 rooms, one each week, and a total of 365 windows, one per day. Their castle is a calendar.

In the early 19th century, the estate was acquired by count Carl De Geer, Sweden’s then largest landowner. In fact, he and his countess Ulrika bought a minor Renaissance castle. For 300 years the castle had been in the hands of the noble family Sparre. In those days it was called Sundby House. Previously, during the late Middle Ages, there was a tiny fort strategically placed at the inlet. King Albrekt of Mecklenburg allegedly besieged the fortress for a short period in the 14th century while trying to cease the Swedish royal crown. Parts of the old fort’s ruin are still left in the oak park of Stora Sundby.

The old Renaissance castle did not appeal to the countess. She fancied something else, a mansion à la mode, and nothing was more fashionable than Romanticism, knights, and Sir Walter Scott. His novels about Ivanhoe and Rob Roy were bestsellers. Thus, an architectural drawing was ordered from Scotland with Sir Walter’s own Abbotsford House as a model. Scott´s architect Peter Frederick Robinson made a draft of a neo-Gothic style Normandy castle, and the countess was pleased.

The builder was Abraham Nyström, who was engaged by Baltzar von Platen for the construction of Göta Canal and the Canal Company houses along the Swedish blue ribbon. It took him 16 years to erect the fairy tale castle. It was inaugurated in 1848. On top, is the grand knight´s hall with a magnificent black and white checked floor. Nyström had a wooden miniature made of the castle. It´s on display in the hall. The old castle constitutes the core of the building; walls of an ancient, marvellous barrel vault are covered with medieval weapons, and at the end of the hallway, a shiny knight´s plate armour stands on guard.

Von Platen is one of the names in the length of ownership, like Hamilton and Silverschiöld. Since 1888, the estate belongs to baronial family Klingspor, today represented by Mauritz and Ida-Sofia. The young couple are guardians of a significant cultural heritage and at the same time modern entrepreneurs. Ida-Sofia takes care of web, media, and public relations, Mauritz is slightly more hands on.

The estate includes some 7 000 acres of land with certified forestry and hunting. 3 000 acres of water are leased out for commercial fisheries. Fallow deer and mouflon sheep are kept in enclosures for production of meat and for preservation of an open landscape. The castle hosts high-end gatherings, parties and concerts, and now and then a film is shot on the premises, like the Netflix-series Royalteen and Swedish Television´s A Royal Affair.

Springtime is the prime season for guided tours. The park is open to the public year-round, and the café in the old orangery is a lovely treat with its delicious salads, sandwiches, pastries and breath-taking view over the lake. Also, in the old joinery by the road, their farm shop is premiering, offering a varied and rich assortment of frozen game meat from the estate, and commodities like potatoes, carrots, all sorts of vegetables, honey, cider, oils, mozzarella, and so forth, most of it locally and ecologically produced. The idea is creating a sustainable network of local growers straight to customer. One of them drops by to examine his goods. Quality is priority number one. A couple of potato bags are removed. But the white cabbage seems fine. And for mid-summer, salat and radish will be available.

22 years ago, a new kitchen was to be fit in the castle. Kvänum got the order. We designed a door inspired by Swedish fin du siècle, a recessed frame door with a profiled inner edge and a gracefully bevelled mirror. In honour of the castle, we named it Sundby, since then a much loved and esteemed member of our Real Classic club.

The kitchen might need some maintenance. Our interior designer Birgitta Silfverberg has brought her folding rule. A fan will probably have to be swapped. And facilities for storing will be upgraded, covered or open is still up for debate. But overall, the Sundby kitchen in colour Lime Grey painted on ash has aged with grace. Brass details of the Ilve gas stove shine along with the antique copper casseroles on top of the cupboards.

As plans for their farm shop advanced, Mauritz turned to Kvänum for advice. It seemed the natural thing to do, he says. I pictured the shop as an extension of our kitchen, its atmosphere and intimacy. On visiting the store in Sibyllegatan, I was immediately introduced to Birgitta. Her enthusiasm has been indispensable to our project. It´s mutual, says Birgitta. Our teamwork turned out a success. The budget was limited. But that´s not necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, it often promotes creativity.

She chose to decorate the shop like a kitchen with cupboards along the walls and a kitchen isle as the centre piece of the room. Intimate and stylish, would be an apt description of the atmosphere. You´re simply tempted to stay for a while. Open and covered storing create depth and variety. Paned windows, timbered walls, an old brick fireplace, and broad floor planks form a rural and timeless framework. The flooring is in fact regained from the 17th century barn, emphasising a sense of context and continuity.

Doors are obviously Sundby. Top cupboards are little sister Broby in our Real Classic-series. Colour is Smoky Grey hand-painted on ash veneer, and stained counter tops are elm that once stood outside the window. The kitchen isle serves as counter, cash desk, and office with iPad but could easily be converted into – a kitchen isle; a few induction hobs and some additional equipment would enable us to arrange cooking courses, says Mauritz. He is an entrepreneur at heart, a dreamer with eyes wide open. One thing leads to another. Why not a restaurant, fine dining in a rural setting on a highly historical site. There´s no shortage of ideas, nor for that matter, buildings. The inspector’s house alone, would count as a manor anywhere else. So, why not? Stora Sundby is a place with strict age-old traditions. And yet, anything can happen.

Discover Sundby


Miriam’s new kitchen

The Builders

On the shore

A Hidden Garden

Hovleverantor logo
Contact us