I have been numerous times to Heiligenstedten, a small community near the town of Itzehoe, heading straigth to the big do-it-yourself-store to buy things for the house and garden.
A few days ago, when wondering where to take the dog (and myself) on a walk, I remembered a motorbike trip we took some years ago starting in Heiligenstedten and leading along the Stör. So I decided to start my walk there, took the car, drove about 15 kilometers and discovered places, that once more made me realise how ignorant I have been about the area I am living in.
I parked the car at the St.-Marien-Kirche zu Heiligenstedten and was surprised to learn from a sign at the churchyard that as early as the 9th century a church had been standing there. The church you see on the picture below was built at the end of the 13th century and rebuilt in 1580.
It was closed that day, but that only gives me a good reason to take another trip there to get to know the inside of the church.
I continued my walk crossing the Stör at the old bascule bridge. Well, it isn’t that old, the modern version was built in 1967, until then there was a wooden bascule bridge dating from 1777.
After crossing the bridge, there is a small cobble stone street on the left, named “Schlossstraße”. I remembered that somewhere I had heard about a “Schloss Heiligenstedten”. I decided to follow that street and was surprised to come out at a lovely old manor-house, Schloss Heiligenstedten.
At home I searched internet about the history of the castle and what I found is not much. However, its latest history seems somehow sad.
Since 1691 the land and the manor-house belonged to the Blome family, one of Schleswig-Holstein’s 25 or 30 families of ancient nobility. It was rebuilt in 1756 after a flood destroyed the old Renaissance building. Between 1851 and 1853 the facade of the Late Baroque mansion a new neo-Gothic look.
I couldn’t find out why the family sold the estate to the state of Schleswig-Holstein in 1926, but the last male descendent, Earl Hans Graf Blome, died in Rumania in 1945. The estate was turned into a Borstal. In 1939 it was briefly used as a hospital, but after a short while turned back into a house of correction until the end of the war. Until 1958 it served as shelter for German refugees and expellees from Middle and Eastern Europe. A phase as being used as a old-people’s-home ended in 1987.
A private investor bought the estate, according to Wikipedia paying a symbolic amount of 10.000 DM (about 5000 Euro) to the state of Schleswig-Holstein in 1988. It changed ownership soon afterwards and another entrepreneur invested about 20.000 000 DM turning the outer buildings into a hotel and restaurant and adding a big riding hall with boxes for about 50 horses. At the same time a new and very luxurious housing project should be developed around the castle, including a mall with exclusive stores. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Five years later, in 1998 a beautifully restored estate, an unfinished housing project and enormous debts remained.
I found an announcement by a real estate company in internet asking for 3. 300 000 million Euros for the estate, but I don’t know whether that is up to date. The castle is closed to the public and decay has settled in. A symbol for an area in Schleswig – Holstein that has lost many of its economic foundations during the last years?